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Turnovers prove costly for Comets

SALEM — It was a tale of two halves for the Crater football team in the opening round of its Class 5A state playoffs against host North Salem on Friday.

Despite another stellar performance from Caden Lasater, 10th-seeded Crater was unable to overcome four second-half turnovers in a 27-11 season-ending loss to No. 7 seed North Salem.

“Our problem was we couldn’t put two halves together,” said Comets second-year head coach Berk Brown. “In the first half, offensively we were moving the ball up and down the field. But on defense, they hit us with a couple of big play action shots and beat us over the top.”

In the second half, the opposite was true for the Comets. Defensively, Crater held the high-powered Vikings (7-3) to just one touchdown, but turnovers negated the Comets’ ability to move the ball offensively despite Lasater’s best efforts, which included a short touchdown run.

“He played his absolute tail off,” said Brown of his do-it-all senior running back. “He led us in rushing, caught four or five balls and was a big-time factor moving (the ball) up and down the field tonight.”

The Comets finished with a 6-4 record and finished second in the Midwestern League behind undefeated Thurston. The seventh-seeded Vikings will travel to face No. 3 seed Silverton in the 5A quarterfinals next Friday.

“Our guys are so gritty and surpassed every expectation this season,” said Brown. “I’m very, very proud of the strides that we made as a program this year. We’re going to miss the seven seniors that we had from this group.”

Crater running back Caden Lasater, shown streaking through the Ashland defense at Crater last Friday. (Larry Stauth Jr. / for the Mail Tribune)