On the march: Santiam football starts league undefeated

October, 2017 Posted in Columnists & Opinion, School, Sports & Recreation

James DaySantiam High headed into the Tri-River football schedule with a 4-0 record. The Wolverines have steadily improved in their first three years under coach Dustin McGee, who led the squad to a 4-5 mark in 2015 and a 7-4 record last year, including a playoff win against
Lost River.

“We’ve had a very good start to the season,” said McGee, whose seventh-ranked squad opened league play after Our Town’s presstime against No. 1 St. Paul.

“Our boys are playing hard, and striving to be their best every day. We have made a lot of improvement since week one, and I think we have put ourselves in a great position to make some noise in league play.”

Which can be a challenge. Regis is the defending Class 2A state champion, while Kennedy made it to the semifinals a year ago. The league currently has four teams in the top 10, with Central Linn at No. 2 and Regis at No. 10 in addition to St. Paul and Santiam.

“Obviously the Tri-River conference is always one of – if not the toughest conference – in 2A,” said McGee, who credited his offensive and defensive lines for setting the tone in wins against Jefferson, Winlock (Washington), Culver and Pleasant Hill. Santiam has outscored its opponents 195-19.

“Defense has been our strength so far,” McGee told Our Town. “We take a lot of pride in being our very best on defense. Our defensive line has really stood out as a strong unit so far. They have set the tone for our physicality and aggressiveness on defense.”

The annual rivalry game between Stayton and Cascade, which occurred after Our Town’s presstime, will go a long way toward determining who wins the Oregon West Conference title.

Stayton and Cascade each came into the game 1-0 in league play, tied with North Marion. The same three teams shared the league title a year ago.

Stayton has the highest ranking of the three, No. 9, with the Cougars 13th and the Huskies 30th. The Eagles are coming off a thrilling 30-28 win at Philomath.

Sophomore quarterback Ben Rash threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Diehl for the winning score with 44 seconds left. Rash, who has been playing in place of the injured Aidan Hill, hit 16 of 27 passes for 178 yards and rushed for an additional 90 yards.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, standout two-way player Jerry Daniels suffered a leg injury against Philomath and is likely to miss significant playing time.

Soccer: The perennial power Stayton boys are off to a 5-0 start and are ranked No. 1 in Class 4A. The Eagles are 2-0 in Oregon West play and have outscored opponents 26-2. Oregon West rival Newport, which won the state title a year ago, also is 2-0 in league and ranked third. Stayton hosts the Cubs on Oct. 3 and closes the regular season Oct. 24 with a match at Newport.

The Cascade girls, meanwhile, are in a three-way tie for first in the Oregon West with Philomath and North Marion. North Marion is ranked fifth by OSAA, with the Cougars sixth and Philomath seventh. Cascade has a pair of home-and-home matchups with the Huskies and Warriors coming up.

OSAA classification: The committee that is working on redistricting for the next four-year cycle reset the enrollment limits between classes, a move that has thrust Cascade into the Class 5A Mid-Willamette Conference from the Class 4A Oregon West Conference. School officials are not happy about the proposed change, which they feel will make it harder for Cougars teams to be competitive.

Cascade Athletic Director Heidi Hermansen, in a letter to the OSAA that she forwarded to Our Town, questioned the methodology the OSAA used in arriving at its enrollment numbers and also expressed concern that many of the Mid-Willamette schools field more teams than Cascade, putting the new league out of balance.

Hermansen also noted that adding the Cougars to the MWC would give the league nine teams. The odd number makes scheduling a challenge, particularly in football, because each Friday night during league play one team will be looking for a nonleague contest.

The OSAA will make its final decision on the new leagues Oct. 16. The new alignments will take effect in the fall of 2018.

Volleyball: Cascade is 3-1 in Oregon West play and ranked sixth in Class 4A. The Cougars are tied with North Marion, with both teams one game behind 4-0 Philomath. The Cougars’ lone league loss was at Philomath on Sept. 21.

Regis, meanwhile, is 3-2 in the Tri-River, tied for third with Kennedy behind 5-0 Central Linn and 4-1 St. Paul.

The Tri-River only receives two automatic state playoff berths, so the Rams will need to achieve a good ranking to make the playoffs should they not move into the top two in the league. Regis is currently ranked 13th by the OSAA.

Cross country: Stayton ran well in its own invitational Sept. 20, taking first in the boys team race and second in the girls. Leading the way for the Eagles’ boys squad were Casey Pugh (2nd, 17:05) and Matthew Frazeur (3rd, 17:36). Jonathan Pollard of Sisters won the race in 16:54. Sisters won the girls team race, with Stayton’s Hailey Notman (4th, 22:30), the top finisher for the Eagles.

The Regis boys novice team took fourth place in the Silver Falls Oktoberfest Invitational on Sept. 13 at Silver Falls State Park. Jack Kroon finished 14th to lead the Rams. The event featured middle-schoolers for the first time, with Stayton turning in a second-place girls finish and fourth in the boys. Leading the Stayton girls was Hope Bridge (5th, 16:54.7), while the top boys runner was Keagen Crosby (5th, 14:05.4).

More than 50 schools – 700 runners – participated in the invite, which was co-hosted by Kennedy and Silverton.

Tyrell Williams update: The ex-Cascade star has 11 catches for 123 yards in his first three games this season for the Los Angeles Chargers. The 6-4, 205-pound Williams, who went to college at Western Oregon, is in his third year with the Chargers. Last season he led the team with 69 catches for 1,069 yards.

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