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Cascade Christian runs past Junction City in 3A opener

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Eighth-seeded Challengers get rematch with top seed Siuslaw in state quarterfinals

The Cascade Christian football team knew who was lying in wait if it was able to get into the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state playoffs.

But to get that chance, the Challengers first had to take care of business Friday night.

No matter what Junction City threw Cascade’s way, the Challengers always seemed to have an answer.

Cascade Christian’s first venture over to Spiegelberg Stadium since 2017 proved to be quite the success, with the eighth-seeded Challengers leading the entire way in a 40-30 win over No. 9 seed Junction City in the opening round of the 3A state playoffs.

“We just wanted to out-physical them,” said Cascade Christian quarterback Keith Reed. “We’ve been saying we want to dominate teams, and that’s the kind of team that we want to be is a dominant team. That was just the plan going in and that we could do that running the ball, passing the ball, everything. We’ve just got a ton of guys ... they’re all just hard runners, they’re big guys and just competitive guys who want to go out here and win. That’s our goal — to win every game.”

Thanks to an offensive line that opened up running lanes galore, the Challengers (5-3) will get another shot at No. 1 seed Siuslaw, which rolled to a 45-6 win over 16th-seeded Blanchet on Friday.

The Challengers nearly pulled off a road upset against the unbeaten Vikings (9-0) on Oct. 1, only to see Siuslaw pull out the 38-34 win.

“They’re a heck of an undefeated team and No. 1 in the state,” said Cascade Christian head coach Jon Gettman. “For us, it’s a week of preparation and you go in there with confidence in our abilities, but you understand that it’s no walk-through whatsoever. It’s going to be another battle and another round in the playoffs, so you’re excited about that.”

The Challengers were able to build a 20-6 lead over the Tigers midway through the second quarter, getting rushing touchdowns from Triston Wallace, Cole Shields and Kameron Rague, the third coming after Cascade Christian got a big stop on fourth down.

Junction City (5-3) cut the deficit to 20-12 when running back Gabriel Ward — who finished with 221 yards on 23 carries — answered Rague’s touchdown with a 65-yard burst up the Tigers’ sideline. But Cascade Christian came right back, working the two-minute drill to perfection, getting an 8-yard TD strike from Reed to Peyton Maurer with 12 seconds to go before the half to push it back to a two-possession game at 27-12.

“I think that was huge for us to go out there and get in front (early in the game),” said Gettman. “We had a two-score cushion and that’s huge to be able to do that and jump out in front. The offensive line, they really just dominated and they did an excellent job of communicating up front and allowing us to run the ball. So many kids touched the ball and that allowed us to do a lot of things with it.”

Reed connected with Brody Sample for a 63-yard pitch-and-catch to push the Challengers’ lead to 33-12 less than two minutes into the third quarter.

Junction City, however, cut the Cascade Christian lead to 33-24 on a pair of Colby Evans touchdown passes, one each to Kaleb Burnett and Austyn Emanuel.

But, as they had done all night, the Challengers responded as the Tigers only continued to hang around.

After a Reed fumble, the Tigers were pinned deep in their own territory. On third down, backup linebacker Ashton Moody picked off an Evans pass to give the Challengers prime field position inside of the red zone.

The Challengers turned it into points, with Wallace scoring a 1-yard touchdown run three plays later.

“That was a nine-point game, Ashton gets the pick and we score right after that and that gave us the cushion that we needed,” Gettman said. “Ashton, he’s a young kid who had just come off the bench for us and that was really the difference maker for us. I thought, overall, there was no letdown or anything like that, so that was great to see.”

Added Reed: “That was huge. That’s just how we can be — we have guys who can make plays no matter who’s on the field. That’s just a huge play that swung the momentum and gave us that (momentum) back.”

Reed accounted for nearly 300 yards of total offense against Junction City, rushing for 88 yards and throwing for 198 yards on 14-of-15 passing.

Wallace carried the ball 12 times for 99 yards, while Sample caught four passes for 109 yards.

“The offense line was awesome — and, really, it starts there,” said Gettman. “Keith made good decisions in terms of keeping them balanced. They weren’t able to take advantage of one thing. He was just able to capitalize on some things that they gave him and made good decisions all night long.”

Junction City66126—30

Cascade Christian72067—40

CC — Wallace 14 run (Knoblach-Scott kick)

JC — Ward 2 run (Snader kick blocked)

CC — Shields 4 run (Knoblach-Scott kick)

CC — Rague 5 run (Knoblach-Scott kick blocked)

JC — Ward 65 run (Evans run no good)

CC — Maurer 8 pass from Reed (Knoblach-Scott kick)

CC — Sample 65 pass from Reed (Reed run no good)

JC — Burnett 59 pass from Evans (Evans run no good)

JC — Emanuel 27 pass from Evans (Snader kick no good)

CC — Wallace 1 run (Knoblach-Scott kick)

JC — Ward 2 run (Ward run no good)

Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Kameron Rague pressures Junction City's Colby Evans as he tries to throw a pass during the first quarter of Friday night’s game.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Keith Reid hands off to Cole Shields for a touchdown in the second quarter of Friday night’s game against Junction City.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Peyton Maurer breaks up a pass to Junction City's Kaleb Burnett during the second quarter of Friday night’s game.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Triston Wallace dives across the goal line for a touchdown in the first quarter of Friday night’s game against Junction City.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Kameron Rague pushes the ball in for a score during the second quarter of Friday night’s game against Junction City.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Kameron Rague pushes the ball in for a score during the second quarter of Friday night’s game against Junction City.