Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
North Medford force fed a steady diet of Nick Janakes to McKay on Friday night, and the results didn't sit well with the Royal Scots at Spiegelberg Stadium.
Janakes carried the football 19 times for 192 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone, and his 7-yard TD reception allowed the Black Tornado to take a 36-0 lead into halftime en route to a 42-12 nonleague victory.
"I like it when they give me the ball," said Janakes, who finished with 21 carries for a career-high 203 yards that equaled the total offensive output by McKay. "I like the trust, that's what it means to me. It builds confidence when you trust a player like that."
"Tonight my O-line was absolutely fantastic," he added. "I hope they play like that for every game. I had so much confidence in my line today, they're absolutely amazing."
In truth, there really wasn't much that went wrong for the Black Tornado on this night. North Medford scored on its opening four possessions and, despite committing three turnovers after being up 29-0, controlled the action against McKay.
"I felt good how we played, we did everything pretty well," said second-year Tornado head coach Mike Mitchell.
McKay head coach Brett Rhodes echoed that sentiment after the game.
"We knew coming in what they were going to do, both offensively and defensively, but they definitely out-executed us," said Rhodes, who also serves as defensive coordinator and assumed control of the Scots on the eve of their first game. "Bottom line is they came out and played physical and we didn't make the adjustments in speed and physicality to battle them in the first half. My hat's off to them."
McKay managed only 49 yards of total offense in the opening 24 minutes, with 16 of those coming on a run by Brandon Lao on the last play of the half when North Medford went into prevent mode.
Royal Scots quarterback Sam Harris, after passing for 238 yards in last week's 30-14 win over South Albany, managed to complete only 4 of 8 passes for 21 yards and one interception in the first half. He finished 9-for-14 for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Lao was equally bottled up in the first half, managing only 40 yards on 10 carries, and only 7 yards in the second half.
Overall, McKay (1-1) managed only 203 yards of total offense against the Black Tornado (1-1). North Medford got quarterback sacks from Skyler Black, Calvinn Casaday, Dontae Mims and Taylor Stone, interceptions by Micah Brown and Tristen Holmes and a fumble recovery by Hunter Hermansen.
"I thought the defense played solid all night long," said Mitchell. "That was a big play team and they got a couple little burst of things but overall we really held them pretty good."
In contrast, Janakes bulled his way to positive yardage time and again behind a front line led by Jeremy Sparks, Zak Kuitert, Blaine Marshall, Isaac Grether and Hermansen to help his team build the early advantage. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior scored on runs of 30, 8 and 2 yards and was released on several jaunts thanks to blocks by tight end Andrew Todd and fullback Will Spence.
"Nick ran great tonight and whenever you do that you've got good blocking up front," said Mitchell. "He's going to be a good running back. He's not in as good of shape as he wants to be in yet, but I think he's going to be pretty good."
After losing a close game at McNary last week, Janakes said he and his teammates were determined to make good on their home opener.
"Last week we fell apart a little bit but this week we really came together as a whole," he said, offering praise up and down North's roster of players and coaches. "This, as coach Mitchell was saying, is our turning point. This was what we've been wanting for so long, to change these traditions, and it's absolutely amazing."
Junior quarterback Troy Fowler helped the team out to a good start with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jared Evans on North's first series, but Janakes said Fowler's work started well before kickoff.
"That was the most energy I've had this whole season and Troy brought it out a lot in us," added Janakes. "We came out with a new tradition coming out of the tunnel and we're starting to change some things and it's really starting to turn out for the better right now."
It was Fowler's 38-yard bootleg that secured the Tornado's first scoring opportunity and he wound up completing 8 of 19 passes for 103 yards and three touchdowns.
After North Medford created a turnover on a fumble by Lao following a hard hit on a screen pass in the early stages of the second half, the Black Tornado built a 42-0 advantage one play later on an 8-yard TD pass from Fowler to Todd. On the turnover, Hermansen hauled in the fumble in midair and turned upfield for a good gain to set up the one-play drive.
McKay finally got something going after that, with Harris connecting on a 36-yard touchdown pass to Kris Williams after he came down with the ball at the pylon along with cornerback Josh Hansen.
After forcing North Medford into only its second punt of the game, McKay again reached the end zone on a four-play drive that saw Larenzo Sterling get behind the secondary for a wide-open 49-yard scoring strike from Harris.
"What we talked about at the halftime was getting better," said Rhodes. "At that point it was about competing as best you can and getting better because we have a long season ahead of us. We did that, I think, in the second half."
With another 15 minutes to cut away at their deficit, the Royal Scots failed to make another first down until there were two minutes to play as North Medford chewed up the clock on its end to secure the win.
North Medford amassed 336 yards rushing and 439 overall, with Spence turning eight carries into 77 yards to go with a 26-yard reception.
"I think we found another running back," said Mitchell. "That little Spence is really good."
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry