COTTAGE GROVE — Haiden Schaan only needed a split-second when asked if, in his wildest dreams, he ever imagined the Class 3A state semifinals against top-seeded Scio would start the way it did Saturday for Cascade Christian.
“Oh no, not at all,” said the senior quarterback, a sense of astonishment rolling over his face as he shook his head at the question.
To be honest, few could have seen coming what transpired in the early going at Herald White Stadium at Cottage Grove High.
The fourth-seeded Challengers allowed only one first down against Scio’s vaunted double-wing offense and raced to a 21-0 lead through one quarter en route to a 49-28 triumph that secured Cascade Christian’s spot in next Saturday’s 3A state championship game.
The Challengers (11-1) will vie for their third state title with a rematch against Santiam Christian, who topped Rainer 30-14 in the other semifinal. Cascade Christian beat the Eagles (10-2) 47-0 in Week 6 this season, and the sequel is likely to be set in Cottage Grove, according to Challengers athletic director Danny Miles. Final arrangements had not been made as of press time.
“We’re just stoked,” said Schaan, who completed 21 of 28 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns to go with two TD runs. “We’ve been almost there every year since our freshman year with every group getting to the quarterfinals, and finally we’re breaking through and we’re stoked on it.”
Saturday’s semifinal matchup was essentially over after Cascade Christian built a 35-6 cushion five minutes into the second quarter against the reeling Loggers (9-2).
“It’s fun to see a group of guys really put it together offensively and defensively like that,” said Challengers head coach Jon Gettman. “In that first half, coming out and taking charge like that just took all the momentum from the beginning.”
Schaan got things rolling with a 4-yard scoring strike to Ian Fralich on the game’s opening possession, then Cascade Christian forced a fumble on Scio’s fourth-and-1 play that was recovered by junior defensive lineman Spencer Weeks.
“Our defense came out and hit them in the mouth right off the bat and that just got our momentum going for sure,” said Schaan.
Given a short field, the Challengers pounced behind a series of passes to Ben Dunn, who caught nine balls for 105 yards overall, that set up an eventual 9-yard TD pass from Haiden Schaan to younger brother Kiegan Schaan.
After forcing a three-and-out on the next series, Cascade Christian marched 67 yards in 12 plays to build a 21-0 cushion with a 4-yard scoring run by Haiden Schaan.
“The biggest thing is he played calm,” Gettman said of the senior QB. “He didn’t try to do too much, he distributed the ball well and took what was there for him and then he made a couple plays just running around the pocket as only he can. It was just a great performance by him.”
Despite getting repeatedly stuffed, Scio finally broke through with a 58-yard touchdown run by senior standout Dru Cook, who ran 40 times for 215 yards, to open the scoring in the second quarter. Then the Loggers got caught up in another scoring landslide by the Challengers.
A TD pass to Dunn from 16 yards out was followed by a fumbled kickoff that was recovered by senior Josiah Sills at the Scio 18-yard line. Four plays later it was 35-6 when Haiden Schaan stretched over the goal line after a 3-yard scamper with 7:44 to go before halftime.
Following another defensive stand that saw the Challengers fight off a healthy dose of runs by Cook, John Fralich put the cherry on top of a nearly perfect opening half when he took a handoff and raced 62 yards to make it 42-6 with 2:04 left in the first half.
Haiden Schaan and the entire Challengers’ team were quick to heap praise on the offensive line for helping pave the way to such an early windfall of points.
“The first two playoff games we didn’t protect as well and this week we really worked on it and it was great today,” said Gettman. “The only time Haiden really scrambled around was after him looking, looking, looking and then he went and scrambled. The offensive line played extremely well and gave us really what we needed.”
The same could be said for a Cascade Christian defense that has come on strong. The Challengers limited Scio to 29 yards of total offense in the first quarter and, for the most part, didn’t give up many big plays to the Loggers.
“We knew coming in after playing them last year and the year before that it was going to be a smashmouth game of just constant hitting,” said Challengers senior defensive lineman Cristian Flores-Alatorre. “Our scout team really stepped up this week and they prepared us. We knew they had weapons like (Cook), and we knew that the double-wing was hard to stop, but we had a good week of practice and I felt good coming in.”
“We knew that there was going to be gaps, but if we just fired into the gaps we could stop them,” he added. “They were big, but I think we were just more athletic all-around than them. As long as everyone did their individual job and didn’t worry about what the other person was doing, I knew we were going to come out on top. I’m just proud of our guys and our seniors for really leading this team.”
Scio scored with five seconds left in the first half on a 22-yard pass from Caeden Spilde to Cook to trim its deficit to 42-12 at the break, then took the ball to start the second half 68 yards for another score that chewed seven minutes off the clock.
“Even in the second half when they scored,” said Gettman in praise of his defense, “it took seven minutes for them to score, which at that point you’re OK with that. It was just play after play, they knew what was coming and it’s just a mentality where you’ve got to throw yourself in there and take the shots and trust your guy’s going to make the tackle behind you.”
A fumble and interception inside the red zone negated Cascade Christian’s next two series, but the Challengers eventually tacked on an answer with a 5-yard TD run by senior Jacob Crowl to make it 49-20 with seven minutes to play.
As the clock ticked away, the Cascade Christian sideline began to rumble with the excitement of more football to come.
“It’s another week with them and that’s going to be a blessing,” said Gettman. “Practice on Thanksgiving Day is always sweeter.”
CASCADE CHRISTIAN 49, SCIO 28
At Herald White Stadium, Cottage Grove
CC — I. Fralich 4 pass from H. Schaan (run failed)
CC — K. Schaan 9 pass from H. Schaan (Dunn pass from Schaan)
CC — H. Schaan 4 run (Hoffman kick)
S — Cook 58 run (run failed)
CC — Dunn 16 pass from H. Schaan (Hoffman kick)
CC — H. Schaan 3 run (Hoffman kick)
CC — J. Fralich 62 run (Hoffman kick)
S — Cook 22 pass from Spilde (run failed)
S — Cook 2 run (Ellis pass from Spilde)
CC — Crowl 5 run (Hoffman kick)
S — Zimmerman 8 run (Spilde run)
Cascade Christian — J. Fralich 1-62, Crowl 14-50, K. Schaan 3-17, I. Fralich 2-15, H. Schaan 5-6, Jordan 1-4.
Scio — Cook 40-215, Zimmerman 10-45, Stratemeyer 6-18, McDaniel 1-7, Gray 2-4, Foster 3-4, Simmons 2-1, Spilde 3-0.
Cascade Christian — Schaan 21-28-1 211.
Scio — Cook 3-5-0 44, Spilde 1-1-0 22.
Cascade Christian — Dunn 9-105, I. Fralich 7-66, K. Schaan 4-32, McLemore 1-8.
Scio — Gray 2-38, Cook 1-22, Foster 1-6.
— Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry