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Schaan guides Challengers past St. Mary’s

The best thing St. Mary’s football team could do Friday night was to score a touchdown on its first series during the Holy Bowl against Cascade Christian at U.S. Cellular Community Park.

As it would turn out, though, that also might have been the worst thing for the underdog Crusaders in the Southern Cascade League clash.

Ranked No. 7 in the Class 3A state power rankings, Cascade Christian used that shocking start as motivation for what turned into a 70-14 rout in front of a cold but entertained crowd in the crosstown rivalry.

Despite moving backward for the first part of its initial series, St. Mary’s caught a break on a third-and-22 play when sophomore quarterback Aliiloa Kaeo-Wailehua heaved a pass downfield that was tipped by a Challengers defender but still found the waiting hands of junior Jake Reynolds for an 80-yard touchdown.

“To get some positive energy like that for us was exciting because these kids work hard,” said St. Mary’s head coach Jamie Young.

The improbable play created a different reaction on the opposite side of the field.

“That actually got me pumped,” said Cascade Christian senior quarterback Haiden Schaan. “I thought, all right, let’s have ourselves a game. Getting a score on the board for them first gave us a little motivation to come out and work at it.”

And, oh boy, did Schaan and company work at it.

The 6-foot, 195-pounder passed for five touchdowns and ran for one of his two scores in the first half as the Challengers (7-1, 2-0 SCL) relentlessly opened a 56-14 advantage by halftime and enforced a running clock by virtue of a 45-point spread early in the third quarter.

Schaan completed 15 of 19 passes for 305 yards and ran three times for 52 yards, scoring on runs of 30 and 3 yards, to spur an attack that amassed a 409-178 edge in total offense by halftime and wound up gaining 497 yards overall.

“He’s been playing like that the whole year,” said Cascade Christian head coach Jon Gettman. “I think he has only three interceptions on the year and just has been phenomenal running the ball, passing the ball and just making good decisions. A lot of stuff is on him where he’ll make calls at the line and overall he’s really just been consistent from game to game.”

A stifling defense that kept the pressure on St. Mary’s (4-4, 1-1) all night certainly gave Schaan plenty of opportunity to shine. The Crusaders offense managed to get past midfield only three times in the first half, and two of those times were on touchdowns as junior running back Gavin Rajagopal also raced to an 80-yard score with 38 seconds left in the second quarter.

After Schaan negotiated a 55-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 7-all with a 22-yard TD pass to John Fralich, everything just seemed to stall for St. Mary’s and resulted in the Crusaders having to punt either in or near their end zone and left Cascade Christian with less than 50 yards to go on most scoring drives.

“We had a couple first downs early and were feeling good about that,” said Young, “but we just couldn’t really sustain anything. We were so sporadic with both our run and pass game, it was tough just to get some momentum going.”

“Obviously we couldn’t give them those kind of (short-field) situations and expect the outcome to be any different,” he added.

Schaan found Joel McLemore from 3 yards out for the go-ahead score, then added his 30-yard scamper before TD passes of 28 yards to Ian Fralich and 47 yards to Ben Dunn gave the Challengers ample cushion.

Ian Fralich’s 26-yard interception return for a score and a 1-yard TD by Jacob Crowl pushed Cascade Christian up 49-7 with 50 seconds to go in the second quarter, but Rajagopal answered on the next play with his own burst off the left edge for an 80-yard score.

“I was really pumped hoping we could capitalize on that momentum but it just didn’t happen,” said Rajagopal, who rushed 23 times for 134 yards. “We just had to keep fighting. We didn’t get the result we wanted but it was a great learning experience for us.”

Not finished, Schaan engineered a drive that ended with a 5-yard TD pass to Dunn with three seconds to go before halftime.

Schaan’s 3-yard TD run 2½ minutes into the third quarter set in motion the running clock, and Kristian Fralich’s 64-yard punt return capped the scoring at the end of the third quarter.

“We did well executing our plays,” said Schaan. “We had receivers that were able to outmatch some of their guys on the outside and our running backs and our (offensive line) were working hard and that was the key.”

Ian Fralich, who had five catches for 119 yards, and Kiegan Schaan each intercepted two passes to thwart potential scoring drives by St. Mary’s, with Josiah Sills and Dunn each posting six tackles. Dunn also finished with four catches for 81 yards.

Pressed into action after a season-ending injury to junior QB Cody Conner two weeks ago, Kaeo-Wailehua finished 9-for-18 passing for 123 yards with one TD and four interceptions.

“I’m proud of our guys,” said Young. “We’re a young group and they never quit, we just didn’t match up very well in quite a few areas.”

Cascade Christian;21;35;14;0;—;70

St. Mary’s;7;7;0;0;—;14

SM — Reynolds 80 pass from Kaeo-Wailehua (Rajagopal kick)

CC — J. Fralich 22 pass from H. Schaan (Hoffman kick)

CC — McLemore 3 pass from H. Schaan (Hoffman kick)

CC — H. Schaan 30 run (Hoffman kick)

CC — I. Fralich 28 pass from H. Schaan (Hoffman kick)

CC — Dunn 47 pass from H. Schaan (Hoffman kick)

CC — I. Fralich 26 interception return (Hoffman kick)

CC — Crowl 1 run (Hoffman kick)

SM — Rajagopal 80 run (Rajagopal kick)

CC — Dunn 5 pass from H. Schaan (Hoffman kick)

CC — H. Schaan 3 run (Hoffman kick)

CC — K. Fralich 64 punt return (Hoffman kick)

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Cascade Christian quarterback Haiden Schaan connects with Joel McLemore for a touchdown during the first quarter against St. Mary's on Friday night. [ANDY ATKINSON/MAIL TRIBUNE]
Cascade Christian's Ian Fralich makes an interception before returning it for a touchdown during the second quarter against St. Mary's on Friday night. [ANDY ATKINSON/MAIL TRIBUNE]