Summit proves too much for South
South Medford was unable to maintain an offensive rhythm and sixth-seeded Summit did all it needed to do to secure a 21-0 victory in the first round of the Class 6A football state playoffs on a cold and rainy Friday night in Bend.
Facing the state’s top defense at only 10.8 points allowed per game, the Panthers made three trips inside the Summit 30-yard line among their first four possessions but couldn’t break through in the season-ending loss.
The effort was a far cry from a week ago, when South Medford (2-8) scored touchdowns on its opening four possessions against North Medford to clinch third place in the Southwest Conference and an automatic berth in the state playoffs.
“We didn’t seem to have the juice we had against North, obviously,” said South Medford coach Bill Singler.
“The kids were on the road with no band and only parents in the stands and we just didn’t have the same energy level.”
“I thought the kids stood in there,” he added. “We had our chances, the score didn’t get away from us. In the first half, especially, we had opportunities we needed to take advantage of like we did against North but we didn’t do it.”
Panthers senior running back Carson Joe unofficially led the charge with 72 yards rushing on eight carries, while Andrew Walker caught three passes for 61 yards and fellow junior Deacon Edgar finished 9-for-23 passing for 110 yards with one interception.
South Medford, seeded 27th overall, was limited to 239 yards of total offense overall.
“They made us very uncomfortable, give a lot of that credit to them,” said Singler of Summit’s defense. “Their defensive line was a solid defensive front and were a little bit quicker than us and were just too much for us. They ate up our backs in pass protection and Deacon didn’t have much time before he was getting hit. They were just too much for us.”
Summit (8-2) advances to next Friday’s second round and will face Roseburg in a rematch of a season opener between the two teams won 23-7 by the SWC runner-up Indians (9-1).
South Medford took the opening kickoff and looked impressive in getting as far as the Summit 21-yard line behind a 19-yard run from Brycen Guches and a 29-yard reception by Walker. The Panthers bogged down from there, however, and that would be the story of the night as they ultimately turned the ball over on downs following consecutive incompletions.
Making its first state playoff appearance since moving from the 5A to 6A ranks in 2018, Summit methodically moved its way downfield and capped a 76-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by Sam Stephens to open the scoring.
After the Panthers were forced to punt, the Storm again navigated a 71-yard drive on 11 plays that was capped by a 7-yard dump pass from Hogan Carmichael to Jack Clemans.
South Medford again produced another solid drive using the legs of Edgar and a 20-yard run by Joe to eventually reach the Summit 18-yard line. The next snap, however, sailed well over Edgar’s head and he had no choice but to retreat and pounce on the ball for a 17-yard loss that the Panthers could not recover from.
“We hadn’t done that all year,” Singler said of the wayward snap. “That just killed us.”
“It just wasn’t meant to be,” the coach continued. “I knew it was going to be tough. We didn’t get many opportunities and the ones we had we squandered.”
Still, it was only 14-0 at halftime before Summit tacked on its final points of the game when Grant Smith picked up a blocked punt and returned it 35 yards for a score late in the third quarter.
“We didn’t finish the season the way we wanted but I give them a lot of credit on how they finished the conference season,” Singler said of his young Panthers. “I thought we stood up and went toe-to-toe with Sheldon and toe-to-toe with Roseburg and beat Grants Pass and North Medford. That’s not too bad when you’re talking mostly about a bunch of sophomores and juniors.”
Guches finished with 28 yards receiving and recovered a fumble to halt a third-quarter drive by Summit, while Edgar ran for 40 yards.
South Medford’s defense held Summit to 300 yards of total offense, and avoided any big-play breakdowns, but was unable to get quick stops and turnarounds to give its offense more chances as was the case last week against the Black Tornado.
Linebackers Dylan Espinosa, Gio Livingston and Joe led the charge for the defense.
S — Stephens 2 run (McKee kick)
S — Clemans 7 pass from Carmichael (McKee kick)
S — Smith 35 blocked punt return (McKee kick)
Have a story idea? Reach sports editor Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry