Forty-seven to zero. It’s a infamous score for OSAA’s state seeding system.
The one-sided outcome left many questions, namely: Why did Cascade Christian receive the No. 4 seed in the Class 3A football playoffs after it had blown out second-seeded Santiam during the regular season?
And after a convincing victory last week in the semifinals against the tournament’s top seed, Scio, the Challengers have vehemently validated the assumption that they’re the cream of this crop.
But, as former ESPN host Chris Berman used to fondly remind us, “That’s why they play the games.”
“We just talk to our kids about going out and playing football,” Challengers coach Jon Gettman said of preparing for Saturday’s championship tilt at Cottage Grove High.
Santiam Christian (10-2) has reeled off six straight victories since the Eagles’ aforementioned 47-0 loss to Cascade Christian (11-1) in a nonleague game on Oct. 6.
In its three playoff games, Santiam has outscored its three opponents — Colton, Vale and Rainier — by a combined count of 122-26.
“Obviously, they’re on a roll,” Gettman said. “We’ve just been looking at, ‘What do they do?’ Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to: How’s our week of preparation going to be?”
Tuesday’s practice was “not the best,” said Gettman, who predicted his core of 10 seniors would recognize the team’s early-week setback and reset the tone in order to respond accordingly.
“They understand the process,” he said. “They know they’ve gotta bring it for the rest of the week and we’ve got a lot work to do until Saturday.”
Santiam certainly has its work cut it, as well: Trying to slow the dual threat of senior quarterback Haiden Schaan and the Challengers’ high-octane offense.
Schaan’s passing statistics are awesome: He’s completed 201 of 314 attempts (64 percent) for 2,809 yards (14.0 yards per completion) to go along with 36 touchdowns against only five interceptions.
And his rushing numbers are highly complementary: 697 yards on 90 carries (7.7 yards per attempt) and 16 touchdowns.
In case you lost count, that’s 52 total touchdowns this season.
But Schaan’s not the only Cascade Christian player with eye-popping stats.
Senior receiver Ben Dunn has already gained 1,072 yards in total offense and needs just 26 yards receiving against Santiam to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in that category. He has reached the end zone 17 times this season.
Another player well within reach of 1,000 yards total offense is junior running back Caleb Jordan, who’s rushed for 800 yards on 117 carries (6.8 yards per attempt) and 11 touchdowns, while hauling in 11 receptions for 123 yards.
Still, in spite of having an embarrassment of offensive riches upon which to rely, Cascade Christian’s defense will again play a key role in setting up the Challengers’ offense.
“Once we hit Santiam (earlier this season), we just rolled (defensively),” said senior middle linebacker Cristian Flores-Alatorre, the Challengers’ leading tackler. “We’re not underestimating them at all, but I feel like we really found our identity in that game.
“They’re going to be a lot more prepared this time around. They definitely have weapons,” he added. “It’s hard to not look at that (47-0 win), but we can’t psych ourselves out. We just have to take it like it’s another game.”
Even though it isn’t.
Reach reporter Mike Oxendine at 541-776-4499 or email@example.com