Crater soars past Ashland to cap off regular season
CENTRAL POINT — A game that featured lots of players getting involved offensively may have been exactly what the Crater football team needed heading into the Class 5A state playoffs.
At least, Crater certainly felt that added confidence after running away with a 45-0 win against Ashland on Friday at Dutch Meyer Stadium, where the Comets scored five touchdowns through the air and spread the ball all over the field on the final night of the regular season.
Quarterback Shane Wood threw four touchdown passes, all in the first half, while Kayden Gardner hauled in a pair of touchdowns of 19 and 15 yards. Javon Smith also had TD catches of 12 and 56 yards, the latter coming on a trick play that resulted in Caden Lasater airing out a long pass to Smith.
“Our kids really loved the fact that we got to move the ball up and down the field, and spreading the ball around ... that’s big for us, because we’ve been playing great defense all year long,” Crater head coach Berk Brown said.
Coming off two losses against tough teams in Thurston, the Midwestern League champion, and 6A Summit, the Comets (6-3, 6-1 MWL) wanted to focus on themselves this week in practice. They anticipated Ashland (0-8, 0-7) bringing a lot of different blitz looks, and knew Wood, their sophomore quarterback, would have to throw out “hot” and make the right reads on time, Brown said, and he responded well Friday.
Crater scored 22 points in the first quarter, with two of the three scores coming on its first play of the drive.
Gardner hauled in his second touchdown reception from Wood in the second quarter, before Crater picked up a safety on Ashland, which set up a 34-yard touchdown connection between Wood and Andrew Schatz to give the Comets a 38-0 advantage heading into halftime.
Ryken deVilleneuve added an 11-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter with a running clock in effect.
“It was nice to see our offense get rolling,” Brown said.
With a playoff berth already secured, Crater will now look ahead to the state playoffs and where it might land next week. Coming into Friday as the No. 10 team in the Oregon School Activities Association power rankings, the Comets knew they could be playing their final home game. As it turned out, the three teams ahead of Crater, No. 9 South Albany, No. 8 North Salem and No. 7 Hood River Valley all won Friday.
“We did play a little bit like it was our seniors’ last game at Dutch Meyer,” Brown said. “That added some bonus motivation. Our guys played their tail off on both sides of the ball.”
“We’re just looking forward to seeing who we play next week and we’re excited,” Brown added.
After playing a JV schedule in the spring due to limited player numbers and an overall inexperienced roster, a still-young Ashland wrapped up the season with an 0-8 overall record and 0-7 in MWL play.
C — Gardner 19 pass from Wood (Perez kick)
C — Smith 12 pass from Wood (J. Smith run)
C — Smith 56 pass from Lasater (Perez kick)
C — Gardner 15 pass from Wood (Perez kick)
C — Safety
C — Schatz 34 pass from Wood (Perez kick)
C — deVilleneuve 11 run (Perez kick)