State champions: Kennedy turns tables on Santiam for 2A title

December 2018 Posted in School, Sports

James DayThere is a sign on North Main Street in Mount Angel that needs an addition. The sign, planted just before the turn on East Marquam to Kennedy High, celebrates recent state titles for the Trojans.

Now, it’s the football team’s turn. The girls basketball team won the title last winter, the softball squad triumphed in the spring and the football team has joined them.

Kennedy finished off a dominating nine-game run Nov. 24 with a 31-20 win against Santiam in the Class 2A title game at Herald White Stadium in Cottage Grove. The Trojans, the No. 10 seed in the 2A tournament, ran up a 28-0 lead in the first half and held on despite a stirring second-half rally by the Wolverines.

On Sept. 14 the Trojans were 2-2 after back-to-back losses to Sheridan and Santiam, but the resilient squad bounced back to beat both teams in the playoffs and capture the school’s first football state title.

“It doesn’t get much better than this,” Gatorade-soaked Trojans coach Joe Panuke told Our Town amid the on-field celebration at the game’s conclusion. “There have been so many great football teams at Kennedy High, and I’m awfully proud to get it done today.”

Saturday marked the Trojans’ fifth title game appearance and the third for Panuke, who was an assistant on the 2009 squad coached by Randy Traeger that lost to Scio and the head coach in 2015 when JFK was defeated by Heppner.

“We had a great week of practice, and the guys were ready to go from the get-go,” Panuke said. “You could see it in their eyes. And our confidence just went through the roof when we got that
early lead.”

Kennedy took a 7-0 lead at 9:41 of the first quarter when Emorej Lynk scampered 56 yards on a pitch from quarterback Angel DeLaRosa. The Trojans got the ball back moments later when David Reyes forced a fumble that Bryce Vandervort recovered at the Santiam 37. Eight plays later Vandervort ran 10 yards off the left side for a score and a 14-0 lead.

It went to 21-0 on the first play of the second quarter when Lynk hit Rocco Carley on a 45-yard score on a perfectly executed halfback pass. It went to 28-0 with 5:04 left in the half on a 1-yard TD run by Lynk. The Trojans were driving toward a possible fifth score late in the first half when Lynk injured his right knee on a 16-yard run to the Santiam 44. Lynk, who rushed for 140 yards, caught a pass for 17 yards, threw the TD pass to Carley and added four tackles on defense, was on the sidelines during the second half.

Santiam pulled within 28-14 in the third quarter on 1- and 91-yard TD runs by Trevor Tinney, but Kennedy got some critical breathing room with 9:21 left in the game when Bruce Beyer booted a 21-yard field goal.

The 3-pointer came at the end of a 50-yard, 10-play drive that included a 28-yard pass from DeLaRosa to the 6-6 Carley, who went up to grab the ball amid double coverage on a third-and-14 play to the Wolverines’ 30.

Santiam scored to get within 11 with 2:23 left, but DeLaRosa recovered the onside kick and the Trojans ran out the clock.

Beyer and Reyes helped pick up the slack in Lynk’s absence by combining for 54 yards on 17 carries and kept the chains moving. DeLaRosa was efficient and precise at QB, hitting both of his passes for 45 yards.

The defense was punishingly productive in the first half, blanking the Wolverines, who had scored 146 points in their first three playoff games. The score was 28-0 before Santiam picked up its first offensive first down. The Wolverines’ first three drives went fumble, loss on downs and punt.

Sam Grosjacques and Ruben Ramirez led the Kennedy defense with ten tackles apiece, while Beyer and Nick Suing added seven apiece, Isaiah Basargin six and Brady Traeger 5. Ramirez, Suing and Lynk had sacks. Beyer also kicked three extra points in addition to his field goal and stopped a fourth-quarter Santiam drive with an interception. Kennedy forced a pair of turnovers while committing none.

Lynk earned player of the game honors for Kennedy for his sterling first half. Tinney, who rushed for 210 yards, two TDs and a two-point conversion and added six tackles at defensive end, was player of the game for the Wolverines, who finished 10-2.

Seniors appearing for the final time for Kennedy were Brandon Salazar, DeLaRosa, Vandervort, Suing, Anthony Barboza and Carley.

Soccer: The Foxes’ boys soccer team, which finished 11-3-1 and advanced to the Class 5A quarterfinals, placed five players on the all-Mid-Willamette Conference all-star team. Senior forward Max Linn was a first-teamer, senior midfielder
Isaac Vargas earned a second team slot, while senior defender Gerardo Cortes
and senior midfielders Anthony Fleshman and Owen Bischoff received honorable mention.

The Silverton girls squad, which was 7-6-1 and also reached the quarterfinals, also placed five athletes on the all-league team. Senior forward Savvy Reilly made the first team, senior defender Katie Sinn and junior defender Ellie Schmitz were selected for the second team, and senior midfielders Bella Jensen and Skyler Johnston received honorable mention.

Volleyball: Silverton, which finished 13-11 and just one win away from the state tournament under first-year coach Kate Trimble, earned six spots on the all-MWC all-star team. Senior libero Emily Anderson and senior outside hitter Liza Dahl made the first team. Junior opposite Maddie Broyhill and junior middle blocker Riley Traeger were named to
the second team, while senior setter Emily Candee and senior outside hitter Riley Hostetter received honorable mention.

Baseball signing: Silverton High baseball standout Hunter Runion signed his letter-of-intent to play college ball at Montana State-Billings on Nov. 14. He signed amid a crush of family, friends, teammates, teachers and coaches. “I want to thank everybody for coming,” Runion said. “My coaches for making me better and my dad and teammates who helped me do my best.” Runion was a first-team all-Mid-Willamette Conference pick last season after pitching two shutouts and striking out 54 batters in 46 1/3 innings. He led the team in batting average (.346), doubles (11), on-base percentage (.417) and slugging (.543).

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