Crater hosts Canby to wrap up spring season
CENTRAL POINT — Once the Oregon School Activities Association turned Week 6 over to the high schools, that left football teams scrambling to fill a void for their season finale.
Crater put its name into a hat for the Class 5A football scheduling committee and out popped Canby, which found itself in the same predicament and was willing to make the trip to Southern Oregon so its players got one final week on the gridiron.
“It’s all super random,” said Crater head coach Berk Brown, “but we’re excited they’re coming on down.”
And while Friday’s contest at Dutch Meyer Field has no playoff implications, you wouldn’t know it from the preparations being made to finish this spring on a positive note.
“Like I’ve told our players and our coaches, this is championship week,” said Brown. “This is all we’ve got this year, so we’ve been preparing hard and looking forward to hosting them.”
In other 6A/5A finales, Eagle Point plays at Willamette today, while Friday’s games include North Medford at Sheldon and Grants Pass at North Bend.
Phoenix is the only other Rogue Valley team playing locally, with the 4A Pirates hosting Douglas on Friday.
In a marquee matchup Friday between 3A unbeatens in Cottage Grove, Cascade Christian squares off against Santiam Christian.
Canby (3-2) has historically been a playoff regular at the 6A level and last ventured this far south in 2019, when the Cougars suffered a tough 16-13 loss to South Medford at Spiegelberg Stadium.
“They are a big, physical group that present problems because we’re physical but we’re a bit undersized,” said Brown of the Cougars. “I think up front their left tackle goes 6-5, 280 and their left guard goes 6-5, 350, so they’re going to present some problems just due to their size and their physical nature.”
Under head coach Jimmy Joyce, Canby has moved from its traditional Wing-T set to more of a spread offense that has featured junior quarterback Michael Gibson, senior running back Tyler Mead and senior receivers Chance Miller and Kaden Boyd.
“They aren’t afraid to spread you out empty backfield and chuck-and-duck you a little bit,” said Brown of Crater’s defensive challenge. “But at the same time with that big front that they have, they don’t mind playing behind their pads and moving the ball up and down the field running the ball.”
Crater has been pretty adept at moving the football in its own right, with senior quarterback Blake Eaton especially doing a good job of distributing the ball last week while passing for 382 yards and five touchdowns.
Eaton has completed 100 of 159 passes for 1,241 yards, 13 TDs and five interceptions overall, guiding the Comets to 311 yards and 22 points per game.
Dawson Douglas has 42 receptions for 487 yards and seven scores to lead a parade of receivers who have stepped up in the absence of all-state standout Trevor Jaasko. Douglas, bound for Southern Oregon University, has eclipsed the century mark in yardage each of the past two weeks.
Payton Anhorn enjoyed his best week against Roseburg with six catches for 109 yards and two scores, while Jaden Fliegel has 12 catches for 176 yards and Dylan Ennis five catches for 91 yards to provide balance.
The Comets also received another big effort from junior Caden Lasater last week, with the versatile playmaker running five times for 42 yards, highlighted by a 30-yard TD scamper.
Already a leading tackler at linebacker, Lasater has stepped in wherever needed on offense, playing center, tight end and now running back.
“He’s the Swiss Army knife of the Crater football team,” joked Brown. “The kid is just a competitor. He’s the ultimate team guy who’s willing to step in and do whatever is asked of him, whether that be blocking the nose guard against Grants Pass or toting the rock against Roseburg. He is just an all-around great kid and a tremendous competitor.”
Lasater hadn’t carried the football until last week, but Brown said the Comets certainly knew how capable he was in the backfield. Seniors Cameron Kramer (51 carries, 198 yards) and Angel Perez have seen a bulk of the carries thus far but Lasater was able to provide a nice jolt last Friday.
“He stuck his foot in the ground a couple times against Roseburg and we weren’t surprised by it,” said Brown. “We knew he could run the football but we wanted to try and give our seniors most of the carries this year, but he has shown that he is a viable threat in the backfield for this game (against Canby) and next year as well.”
EAGLE POINT AT WILLAMETTE: Eagle Point sophomore running back David Brown has provided a huge spark on offense, churning out 404 yards and three TDs on 76 carries in his first varsity season.
Brown used a 76-yard scoring burst to help the Eagles (1-4) pull within 28-10 by halftime last week and has been instrumental to his team’s offensive success.
Brown’s emergence in the backfield has helped take some pressure off junior Isaiah Hill, who is also a threat in the backfield with 142 yards and two TDs on 26 carries but also vital to EP’s defensive scheme at inside linebacker.
Senior Lucas Meerten has pulled in 13 receptions for 123 yards and one TD to provide a playmaking threat for quarterbacks Anthony Milian and Bryton Livingston. Meerten also helps propel a defense that has enjoyed big efforts from Reagan Scheffler, Wyatt Graves and Gabe Esquibel.
A name familiar to those in the Eagle Point system, Josh Wolfram, heads up a Willamette (3-2) squad that boasts a talented pair of juniors in running back Bryce Indell and receiver Griffen Bushnell to complement senior QB Dane Woodcook.
Indell has run 71 times for 550 yards and eight TDs, while Bushnell boasts 39 catches for 507 yards and five scores to go with another 124 yards and two scores on the ground. Woodcook has completed 73 of 124 passes for 1,058 yards, nine TDs and six interceptions.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or on Twitter @Kris_Henry.