PREP FOOTBALL: Crater, Ashland, Cascade Christian continue playoffs
When your offense averages 50 points per game, it’s difficult to convince outsiders that your team really is one that relies on the defense setting the tone.
That’s been the challenge this football season for the second-seeded Crater Comets (9-1), but the results speak for themselves.
Entering tonight’s Class 5A state quarterfinals clash against No. 7 Parkrose (7-2), Crater has posted three straight shutouts and boasts five overall this season. The Comets also held unbeaten and top-ranked Thurston to its season low in points during a 31-20 setback on Sept. 20.
“Those 50 points (on offense) are a tribute, actually, to our defense getting us the ball so many times,” said Crater head coach Randy Waite “That’s one of the reasons why we’ve been able to be successful on offense is our defense.”
Overall, Crater limits opponents to 235 yards and 10.5 points per game to go with 20 forced turnovers. The Comets have not allowed a point in 13 quarters.
“We have experience, for one,” said Waite of the reason for Crater’s defensive prowess. “Our defensive line has been absolutely outstanding and our linebacker crew, led by Tyler Ennis, is so experienced that everyone knows what to expect.”
Joining Ellis at the second level are seniors Brady Brock and James Ruth and savvy sophomore Caden Lasater, while the starters in the trenches include senior Jacob Chenoweth, junior William Woitte and sophomore Jimmy Jordahl. The Comets also do a good job of rotating in reserves to keep everyone fresh, with little to no drop-off.
While the secondary was a little suspect in blown coverages last season, this year’s group has been dialed in with seniors Gavin Acrey and Bruce Cwiklinski at cornerback, senior Robert Amoson at safety and junior twins Brady and Blake Eaton also at safety.
“Coach (Berk) Brown has done a great job of simplifying things so our kids can just fly around,” said Waite, “and I think we pursue to the football better than anybody in the state, really. We pride ourselves on everybody running to the ball and helping each other out, and they just feed off each other.”
That crew has already stood up to the test against some of the top teams in the state as the Midwestern League South Division champions, but Parkrose is as dynamic as they come.
Under the guidance of second-year head coach Keanon Lowe, whose heroism to disarm a shotgun-wielding student and prevent a school shooting last May has been nationally recognized, the Broncos have averaged 42 points per game.
Parkrose scored the first playoff victory in school history last week in a 59-20 rout of Lebanon after senior quarterback Tre Singleton passed for four touchdowns, ran for another and also returned an interception for a score.
“He can run the ball, he can throw the ball, he’s just a playmaker,” said Waite of Singleton. “A lot of these Parkrose guys go both ways so they’re good on defense, too. They have five or six kids that are pretty special kids so it will be a team effort to stop them. It will be guys needing to tackle in space, maintain leverage and help each other out by running to the football.”
Singleton completed 12 of 16 passes for 228 yards and ran nine times for 52 yards, while Mactae Harper used a 63-yard TD run to boost him to 89 yards on eight carries and Taydrian Jackson had a 49-yard TD run in his six carries for 87 yards.
Dale Scott finished with 123 yards on seven catches behind TD receptions of 61 and 15 yards, while fellow senior Jay Jay Hudson scored on a 30-yard pass and Izaiah Parks had a 50-yard TD catch last week.
“Everybody when you get to this level has some playmakers that are dangerous kids, especially if they get loose,” said Waite. “Once these Parkrose kids break through, your heart stops because they’re athletic kids.”
Fortunately for the Comets, they have a few playmakers of their own to help keep pace on offense.
Senior quarterback Trever Davis has been the team’s guiding force for years and proven that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help Crater to victory. This year, Davis has completed 132 of 217 passes (61 percent) for 1,838 yards, 24 TDs and four interceptions. The 5-10, 180-pounder has also run for 410 yards and seven scores.
“Trever is kind of underappreciated because he just does not care about stats,” said Waite. “He does not care about throwing the ball. If he needs to run the ball he’ll run the ball, but if he just needs to hand it off, he’s fine with that, too. Some games he doesn’t run the ball at all.”
“His job is to just lead us and I think that’s undervalued by a lot of people,” added the coach. “I think they see stats and things like that and they don’t understand the leadership that he brings.”
Despite given considerable defensive attention, Acrey has been equally impactful in rushing 106 times for 1,303 yards and 19 TDs.
“Gavin finds a way,” said Waite, “and sometimes he helps us by being the decoy, too. We’ve said all year we like to spread the ball around but obviously Gavin’s a warrior.”
Crater also boasts prolific perimeter players in receivers Trevor Jaasko, Dawson Douglas, Chase Sherer and Amoson.
Jaasko has hauled in 39 passes for 567 yards and seven TDs, while Douglas has 34 receptions for 455 yards and eight TDs, Sherer 29 catches for 454 yards and eight TDs and Amoson 10 catches for 186 yards and one score.
Parkrose lost its first two games before mounting a seven-game winning streak. Crater has won seven straight as well.
“We respect everything about them,” said Waite of the Broncos, who are enjoying a historic season for the school. “It’s a good story (in Parkrose and Lowe) and hopefully we can take care of what we need to take care of because we think our story is pretty good, too.”
ASHLAND AT WEST ALBANY: No team in the state’s largest three classifications has allowed fewer points this season than third-seeded West Albany (10-0) at 70 overall for a 7.0 average per game.
Sixth-seeded Ashland (9-1) enters Friday’s 5A quarterfinal averaging 46 points under the direction of senior quarterback Rieger Sayre, who has completed 66 percent of his passes for 2,626 yards, 38 TDs and seven interceptions. Sayre has also run for 502 yards and four scores.
Senior DaMario Watson has provided the perfect complement to Sayre with 945 yards rushing and 14 TDs to go with 24 catches for 307 yards and five scores.
The Grizzlies’ receiving corps has also been key, with three 500-yard receivers in Gabe Ekwall (37 catches, 576 yards, six TDs), Logan Sanford (48 catches, 527 yards, 11 TDs) and Nolan Rinefort (29 catches, 524 yards, nine TDs).
West Albany junior Zach Cehrs ran for 216 yards and three TDs in the Bulldogs’ 56-13 opening-round win over Redmond last week.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN AT HIDDEN VALLEY: Top-ranked and unbeaten Hidden Valley made a statement with a 42-14 road win over Cascade Christian on Oct. 4, and the Mustangs will look to repeat that message in the 3A quarterfinals Friday in Murphy.
In that contest, Hidden Valley used a 21-0 surge in the third quarter, built on three straight turnovers, to separate for what would become the only loss this year for the eighth-seeded Challengers (9-1).
Hidden Valley outgained Cascade Christian by 220 yards on offense, 429-209, thanks to a blend of hard running by junior Tobias Powers (25 carries, 173 yards, three TDs) and the precision passing of junior quarterback Sam Vidlak (17-for-19, 216 yards, one TD and one interception by Elijah Smith).
Challengers senior quarterback Kiegan Schaan was limited due to a host of dropped passes against the Mustangs but managed to run for two scores.
Schaan has passed for 1,824 yards overall with 26 TDs to go with more than 700 yards rushing and 16 TDs on the ground. Smith has run for more than 700 yards with 10 TDs.
Senior Cade Sample had four catches for 145 yards and two TDs and ran for another last week for Cascade to boost his totals to 28 receptions for 513 yards and six scores. Kristian Fralich has been the team’s leading receiver at around 900 yards and 14 TDs.
Hidden Valley’s Lawrence Matusik, at 6-4, and Jeremiah Noga, at 6-3, provide downfield mismatches for the Mustangs, who compete at the 4A level in all other sports, while sophomore Nate Vidlak is also a shifty figure in the passing game.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry