Rainier on brink of league title after win over Fighting Ducks


The Rainier High School football team is one win away from clinching the 2B East/West league title.

The Mountaineers (5-2, 4-0 2B East West) inched closer to the league crown with a 36-7 road conference win over Toutle Lake High School on Friday, Oct. 13. On a muddy field, they ran the ball at will one week removed from a 500-yard passing performance from quarterback Jake Meldrum.

Senior running back Chris Grey led the way with 143 yards on 15 carries, while the Meldrum brothers, Jake and Josh, combined for three rushing scores. Jake Meldrum attempted only four passes, completing two with a touchdown to senior Jared Sprouffske.

The Mountaineers’ defense dominated, however, holding the Ducks scoreless until the fourth quarter. Linebackers Blake Roberts and Dorien Cano recorded 10 tackles apiece, and sophomore defensive back Jordan Pringle intercepted two passes.

One week after the Mountaineer defense allowed 52 points in an eight-man game, head coach Andy Bartell was impressed by the unit’s dramatic improvement.

“We spent all week working on getting our run fits fixed up. We had a really big night on defense,” Bartell said.

With their fifth victory of the campaign, the Mountaineers have secured a winning season after earning just two wins in the previous two years combined. They are set for a rematch against Wahkiakum High School on Friday, Oct. 20, seven weeks after they opened the season with a road win against the Mules on Sept. 1.

Although the two teams are familiar with each other, Bartell said his team is far different from the one that took the field on Sept. 1.

“When we watched that tape of that game, we felt like we didn't even know who that team was in Week 1,” he said. “Our confidence is at an all-time high right now.”

With a win over the Mules on Friday, the Mountaineers would secure the 2B East/West league title in their first season in the league. 

Bartell said that a league title would mean a lot to the school and the community.

“I think it’s huge. You can already feel a little bit of a buzz in the hallways and how everybody’s talking about how great the game was on Friday, and the kids are walking around with confidence,” he said. “Their interest in the details of how to get better is sharper. They’ve got a bit of swagger going, and it helps with the whole school.”

Despite the four straight wins and a league title within reach, Bartell wants to make sure that his team avoids complacency, especially because the team hasn’t enjoyed success like this in recent years.

“It’s nice to have five wins under our belt and be on a good run but to be the team that people talk about, it has to come year after year. There’s those programs that are title contenders every year, and we want to become that,” Bartell said.

The Mountaineers will kick off their regular season finale against Wahkiakum on Friday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. They will honor their seniors with a ceremony before the game and hope to send them off with a league title.