Ashland’s volleyball program had quite a run brewing from 2005-09, securing top-four state trophies in all five seasons.
COTTAGE GROVE — The Cascade Christian offense found itself in a two-score hole before running a play from scrimmage. But once it did, Scio had few answers for the charging Challengers.
Cascade Christian ran just two plays in the first quarter, one a 62-yard touchdown run by Brandon Williams, but scored 22 straight points in the next three en route to a 29-14 victory in a Class 3A state semifinal Saturday at Cottage Grove High School.
The Challengers' trip to next week's state championship game will be its first since 2006, when they defeated Bonanza 27-18 for the 2A state title. Cascade Christian had reached the state semifinals each of the last four years, failing to advance each time.
"This has been my drive and my hope," Williams said. "I've got amazing brothers [teammates]. They've worked their butts off for this. They've given 110 percent."
Williams played the workhorse role, carrying 26 times for 229 yards and two touchdowns.
"He's incredible. He squirts through those holes and once he's in the open field no one can catch him," said Challengers' coach Jon Gettman.
Nathan Jones ran 80 yards nearly untouched for the Loggers' first score and Scio coach Jim Mask decided to press his luck, successfully recovering the ensuing onside kick. The Loggers (11-2), who had attempted just 32 passes all season, caught the Challengers (13-0) off guard on a 17-yard pass from Brady Smith to A.J. Holmberg for Scio's second score.
"They shocked us," Williams said. "They came out and played hard-nosed football."
The Challengers were in the Loggers' backfield on their first two drives, but Gettman says the team was a little anxious.
"We over-pursued. We were too hyped up. After that we just slowed down and relaxed and we went ahead," Gettman said.
After the early barrage, Cascade Christian held Scio to just 88 yards of total offense and only three first downs. Scio's Daniel Harper, the second most prolific rusher in Oregon history, had rushed for nearly 2,500 yards on the season, but was held to just 99 yards on 17 carries.
"We just stood up and played defense and stopped them," Williams said.
From there, the Loggers were unable to control Williams and a passing attack led by Tanner and Cody Parker and quarterback Daniel Scottow. Scottow and Tanner Parker hooked up on consecutive passing scores — the second, a 5-yard strike, came as the first-half clock expired, giving the Challengers a 19-14 lead at the break.
Scottow completed 6 of 9 passes for 79 yards. Cody Parker caught three passes for 50 yards and Tanner Parker two passes for 25 yards, both touchdowns.
"It's really about giving him [Tanner Parker] opportunities," Gettman said. "We really haven't had the chance to pass the ball. We took advantage of what they gave us."
The 15-point margin was the closest of the season, as Cascade Christian had been winning by an average of 39 points over their first 12 contests.
"When you get to the semifinals, you're playing very tough teams and the difference between winning and losing is very small." Gettman said. "The kids did a great job since last January working their tails off."
Sophomore outside linebacker Dante Olson led the Challengers' defense with 13 tackles, including one for a loss, and middle linebacker Dane Scott had seven tackles.
Dayton (11-0) defeated Santiam Christian in the other semifinal, setting up a match-up of two unbeaten teams next Saturday. The game will be played at Cottage Grove High School starting at 4 p.m.
Cascade Christian 29, Scio 14
At Cottage Grove High
Scio 14 0 0 0 —14
Cascade Christian 7 12 3 7 —29
S — Jones 80 run (Jones run)
S — Holmberg 17 pass from Smith (run failed)
CC — Williams 62 run (C. Parker kick)
CC — T. Parker 20 pass from Scottow (kick failed)
CC — T. Parker 5 pass from Scottow (pass failed)
CC — FG Parker 25
CC — Williams 6 run (C, Parker run)
First Downs 9 15
Rushes-Yards 42-249 34-269
Passing Yards 17 79
Comp-Att-Int 1-5-0 6-9-0
Total Yards 266 348
Punts 1-26 1-61
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 9-69 9-90
Scio — Nathan Jones 19-115, Daniel Harper 17-99, Brady Smith 2-29, Hunter Reger 4-6.
Cascade Christian — Brandon Williams 26-229, Levi Girardot 3-19, Josh Brite 2-12, Daniel Scottow 3-9.
Scio — Brady Smith 1-4-0 17, Nathan Jones 0-1-0 0.
Cascade Christian — Daniel Scottow 6-9-0 79.
Scio — A.J. Holmberg 1-17.
Cascade Christian — Cody Parker 3-50, Tanner Parker 2-25, Seth Knox 1-4.