‘1-8 to State’: Wolves Win Wild One Over Monarchs to Return to Tournament


The Black Hills football team limited it to a whispered line all spring and summer. As the season wore on, the Wolves kept the goal that had become their mantra for months within the locker room, lest somebody say it too loudly and sway any fickle football gods against them.

But after the excitement and dramatics of their 21-20 crossover win over Mark Morris on the turf at Woodland High School on Saturday, second-year coach Garrett Baldwin and his Wolves gathered up in a joyous postgame huddle, and finally got to say it with their chests: 1-8 to State.

“That’s all we said (postgame),” Baldwin said. “Just huddled up, and said ‘Hey man, 1-8 to State, we’re going to the State playoffs,’ and they all started screaming, hooting and hollering, singing ‘It’s great to be a Black Hills Wolf.’”

This time last year, the Wolves were picking themselves up off the mat after a one-win season, with their last four losses coming by at least 29 points. Coming off a tiebreaker on Monday that got them into the crossover, they found themselves a step away from the dreamed-of turnaround, but still facing an uphill battle in Cowlitz County, against an 8-1 Mark Morris team.

What followed was four quarters of ups and downs, that saw just enough wild breaks break the way of the comeback kids.

“It was pretty nuts,” Baldwin said, by way of explanation.

Early on, it didn’t just look like the Wolves could upset the Monarchs; it seemed they had a shot at routing them. Two Jaxsen Beck touchdown passes — one to Braiden Bond and one to Johnnie Stallings — gave the guests a 14-0 lead at the half, and it could have been much more had they not fumbled the ball away inside the Monarch 10-yard line twice.

But the third quarter would be a different story. MM branched out from its Wing-T attack to let it fly, and two touchdown passes tied the game up going into the final period.

“You could feel the momentum, feel the energy shift,” Baldwin said. “They scored pretty quick, and it started to suck the life out of us, but we kept battling.”

The momentum stayed in the Monarchs’ favor to start the fourth, and they took the lead on a long touchdown. But instead of kicking another extra point, Mark Morris’ staff called for a two-point conversion, and the Wolves held firm to keep it a 20-14 game.

“It was really weird,” Baldwin said. “Their booth coaches were losing their minds.”

That left the door open, and Black Hills took advantage when Beck found Tanner Parkinson for a 64-yard strike — and Parkinson hit the ensuing extra point to make it 21-20.

But there would be one last chapter as the clock wore down. Forced to punt with just under a minute left, the Wolves saw MM’s Kobe Parlin field the ball around his own 10-yard line, hit the sideline, and go nearly 80 yards into the red zone. The Monarchs ran a play to get on the doorstep, but with no timeouts, had to spike it, and sent their field goal team out for the win — only to lose when it sailed wide left.

“He got the kick off, and your heart kind of sinks a little bit until you see the refs say no good,” Baldwin said. “Then you get excited.” 

Beck finished his night 13 for 20 for 245 yards and three touchdowns. Parkinson caught five passes for 114 yards, while Stallings caught two for 75, to go along with his team-high 87 rushing yards.

And now, after officially sealing the deal on “1-8 to State,” for the first time since 2018, the Wolves have an interest in Seeding Sunday.

“We just have more guys this year that believe in this team, and that’s what paid off,” Baldwin said. “They didn’t quit, they just kept battling. It felt like it wasn’t going to go our way; it really started to feel that way. But they just kept going, and it worked out.”