Back on track: Kick puts Fox football within reach of playoff spot

October 2016 Posted in Sports

James DayThe Silverton High football team has rallied for a pair of victories and is on the verge of clinching a playoff spot.

The Foxes opened the Mid-Willamette Conference season with a pair of close losses, a 20-13 defeat at Dallas (the Foxes were stopped at the Dragons’ 25 in the closing seconds) and a 21-20 loss to Lebanon, which is tied for the league lead with Central at 3-0.

Silverton has moved to 2-2 in league and 4-2 overall via a 48-21 home win against Crescent Valley and a thrilling 23-21 victory at Corvallis. The Foxes played after Our Town’s presstime Thursday at home vs. South Albany, and a win there would clinch one of the four MWC playoff berths.

Silverton, which is ranked No. 5 in Class 5A, showed its resilience and special teams strength in the win against Corvallis. Sam Morrison ran back an interception 30 yards for the Foxes’ first score and a 64-yard interception return by Spencer Clements set up a Levi Nielsen 1-yard run for a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.

But the Spartans rallied to take a 21-20 lead with 8:05 left on a 4-yard scoring run by Roy Williams, who rushed for 140 yards and accounted for all three Corvallis touchdowns.

Silverton Kicker Ben Willis

Silverton Kicker Ben Willis

Five minutes later Morrison’s second interception gave the Foxes a shot at a winning drive. Silverton marched to the 5-yard line, fueled by a 21-yard pass from Nielsen to Kobe Garcia. The Spartans held, though, and Foxes coach John Mannion sent out sophomore place-kicker Ben Willis to attempt a 22-yard field goal.

Corvallis coach Chris McGowan called his final two timeouts in an attempt to “ice” Willis, but the ploy failed. Wills sent the ball through for the winning points with 1:04 left.

“They tried to ice me, but I had confidence in my line and my holder,” Willis told Our Town. “We practice those kicks 30 times a day. I knew I could kick it.”

“Every game we play in this league is a dog fight,” Mannion said. “And the win tonight makes the next one even bigger.”

The unsung hero for the Foxes was punter Austin Haskett, who averaged 44 yards per kick, including three that pinned the Spartans inside the 10.

Kennedy, meanwhile, is 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the insanely competitive Tri-River Conference. The Trojans lost their opener, a 15-7 slugfest at Regis, but rallied Oct. 7 with a convincing 28-6 home win against Central Linn.

Kennedy is ranked fifth in Class 2A, with Regis (No. 1), St. Paul (No. 3) and Santiam (No. 7) crowding the top tier of the rankings. The Trojans hosted St. Paul on Friday after Our Town’s presstime and will close the league season Oct. 28 at Santiam.

The Trojans used a punishing ground game to down Central Linn, which is ranked No. 12 despite a 2-4 overall mark and an 0-2 league record.

Bishop Mitchell rushed for 187 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while quarterback Brett Traeger added 75 yards and two more scores. Jack Suing rushed for 54 yards on nine carries as Kennedy rang up 316 yards on the ground.

The defense was solid, holding the Cobras to 107 total yards. Central Linn scored its lone touchdown with 1:26 left.

Soccer: The Silverton girls, who have finished second in the Mid-Willamette the past two seasons, are on top of the league at 3-0 and have an 8-2 overall mark. Right behind the Foxes are defending champion Corvallis and Crescent Valley, both at 2-0-1.

The Foxes visit C.V. Oct. 20 and close the season Oct. 25 with a home match versus Corvallis.

“The conference title will likely come down to the outcome of those games,” Silverton coach Gary Cameron told Our Town.

The Foxes have a strong corps of returners from last year’s 10-3-2 team that lost to eventual Class 5A runner-up LaSalle Prep in the round of 16.

Cameron called Hannah Munson and Maggie Roth a pair of “physical and talented” midfielders and he also has four experienced defenders: Desiree Sinn, Savvy Reilly, Maddy Valov and Ashtin Alexander. Molly Stadeli and Carmen Hodgson are on the wings, while Caitlyn Keating returns at forward.

Veteran goalkeeper Kyle Lulich has more than 30 starts on her resume.

Freshman forward Paige Alexander is the team’s leading scorer and two sophomores, forward Izzy Haselip and defender Katy Sinn “already have made a big impact this year,” Cameroon said.

“The team goal,” Cameron said, “is to improve our brand of soccer every game and go into the playoffs poised to make a run.”

The Foxes’ boys squad is 3-3-4 overall and 0-2-1 in league play. One of the league losses was to No. 3 Woodburn and Silverton earned a 3-3 draw against No. 9 Central. The Foxes needed to finish in the top six to make the playoffs.

Cross country: Kennedy’s Kaylin Cantu and Alejandra Lopez both ran personal bests to finish 1-2 in the 28-team Regis-Stayton Invitational run Oct. 6 in wet and sloppy conditions at Stayton Middle School. Cantu ran the 5K course in 19:04, while Lopez clocked 19:26. The Trojans took second as a team behind Pleasant Hill.

Kennedy’s boys squad finished seventh, led by Noe Jines (15th in 17:51).

Silverton, meanwhile, competed in the Oct. 7 Flat and Fast Invite at Joe Dancer Park in McMinnville. The boys finished ninth, led by sophomore Haile Stutzman (14th in 17:05) and the girls were 10th, paced by Jori Paradis (41st in 21:18).

Volleyball: Silverton is 12-8 overall and 7-4 in Mid-Willamette Conference play through Monday’s matches. The Foxes are three games behind co-leaders Lebanon and Corvallis with three matches to play. Only the top two MWC teams automatically qualify for the 16-team bracket. Silverton’s No. 11 ranking should help if the squad winds up in the play-in round.

Kennedy is 12-8 overall and 5-4 in Tri-River play through Tuesday’s matches. The Trojans are in fourth place in league and just two squads automatically qualify for the playoffs. Kennedy is ranked 15th, which has the squad in the running for one of the two at-large spots.

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