Fox football No. 1 in state: Enters toughest part of season 4-0

October 2017 Posted in School, Sports

James DaySilverton won its first two Mid-Willamette Conference football games and has moved to No. 1 in Class 5A in the OSAA’s rankings.

The Foxes still have a long way to go with a stiff challenge at No. 3 Crescent Valley taking place after Our Town’s presstime (see the Our Town Facebook page for a report on the game).

On Sept. 22 the Foxes scored an improbable 31-30 win against defending state champion Lebanon. Silverton jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but the Warriors rallied for 22 consecutive points to lead 22-17. Lebanon led 30-25 in the fourth quarter and appeared to be on the verge of another TD when Foxes defensive back Colton Meyer intercepted a pass near the goal line and ran it back to the 45.

A penalty on the runback pushed Silverton back to the 19, but the Foxes followed with an epic 17-play, 81-yard drive in which they were penalized 27 yards and converted twice on fourth down. The second successful fourth-down play featured the individual effort of the season for the Foxes as junior quarterback Levi Nielsen weaved his way for 27 yards on 4th-and-27 to the Lebanon 13. Nielsen ran 8 yards for the winning score with 2:38 left.

Nielsen, who threw three touchdown passes in addition to this scoring run, told Our Town that on the fourth-down run he could tell from the defense the Warriors were playing that the play would not work. “Then I saw an opening and went for it. It was risky, but it paid off,” he said.

The Foxes opened league play Sept. 15 with a 38-22 home win vs. Dallas, led by 191 yards rushing and four touchdowns from Hunter Meissner. The 5-9, 195-pound junior ran for three scores and recovered a fumble in the end zone for a fourth touchdown.

“Our offense really played well,” Meissner told Our Town. “I couldn’t have done it without my offensive line.”

Kennedy, meanwhile, entered Tri-River play 0-4 but ranked No. 13 in Class 2A because of their difficult schedule. The Trojans faced two Class 3A squads and also had to battle Monroe and Oakland, both of who are in the top five in
Class 2A.

“Our guys have been playing hard,” coach Joe Panuke told Our Town. “We are just focusing on fixing the little things each week. We have been dealing with the injury bug a bit this year, but we are looking forward to league.”

Kennedy opened Tri-River play after Our Town’s presstime against No. 2 Central Linn. St. Paul is ranked No. 1 and Panuke thinks the Buckaroos might be the team to beat. “The rest of the league will be a dog fight,” he said. “I like our chances when we get into league.”

Cross country: Kaylin Cantu is on her way to a stellar senior season. The Class 2A Kennedy runner captured first place at a pair of prestigious invitationals against competition all the way to 6A.

First, on Sept. 13, Cantu set a course record of 19:05 in taking top honors at the Silver Falls Oktoberfest Invitational. Cantu notched in behind Hannah Hernandez of Philomath during the hilly trail sections at the Silver Falls State Park course, then took charge when the runners came out of the woods and won by 25 seconds. Kennedy finished second by one point to Oak Hill in the small-school team competition.

On Sept. 23 Cantu became just the second Trojans runner to win at the Three Course Challenge at Camp Rilea in Warrenton. Cantu took first on the difficult course in 22:59, 13 seconds ahead of Kelsey Swenson of Class 5A Mountain View. Cantu’s run helped Kennedy capture the small school team title.

Silverton, which co-hosts the Silver Falls meet with Kennedy, also ran well at the invite, which featured 50 schools and more than 700 runners. The Foxes’ girls squad took fifth among large schools, led by Jori Paradis, who took fourth in 20:08.5. Silverton’s boys were seventh as a team, led by third-place finisher Haile Stutzman (16:41.1).

The Silver Falls meet included middle school runners for the first time and Silverton won the girls team title, led by first-place finisher Hannah Bashor (16:23.0). The Silverton boys took second behind Veritas, while placing three runners in the top eight: Zach Kuenzi (3rd, 14:00.6), Carter Gauvin (6th, 14:18.8) and Collin Allen (8th, 15:06.7).

The Silverton High squads also ran well in the Mid-Willamette preview meet Sept. 20 at Willamette Mission State Park. Both teams finished fourth, with Paradis taking third in the girls race in 19:11.34 and Stutzman fourth for the boys in 16:10.80.

Volleyball: Silverton is off to a strong start under first-year coach Linda Riedman. The Foxes are 4-2 in Mid-Willamette Conference play and ranked 13th in Class 5A by the OSAA. Silverton opened 4-0 in league before falling to Lebanon and Crescent Valley. Corvallis leads the league at 6-0, with Lebanon and Crescent Valley a game ahead of the Foxes at 5-1.

Kennedy, meanwhile, is 3-2 in Tri-River play, two games behind 5-0 Central Linn and one game from second place St. Paul. The Trojans are tied with St. Paul for 13th in Class 2A.

Soccer: The Silverton girls are 1-4 in nonleague play, but that mark is deceptive given the Foxes have played two Class 6A schools, No. 13 West Salem and No. 2 South Salem. Silverton opens Mid-Willamette play Oct. 3 at home vs. Central. The Foxes’ boys squad, under first-year coach Derek McElfresh, scored its first win Sept 19, a 3-2 victory vs. Putnam. Silverton is 1-1-3 and opens MWC play at Central on Oct. 3.

Running: More than 750 runners and walkers participated in the three Oktoberfest road races Sept. 16. Louis De Sitter of Portland won the half-marathon in 1:24.24. Ann Steffen of Portland was fourth in 1:27.59 and was the first woman to finish. Alex Cameron of Portland won the 10-kilometer event in 32:12. Michael Traeger of Silverton took third, while Sophia Patterson of Salem finished eighth in 42:02 and took top honors among female runners. Jason McMurria of Wilsonville won the 5K in 19:10. Deanna O’Neil of Canby was third in 19:41 and led all women runners.

Follow me on @jameshday.

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