On the rise: Santiam Wolverines second in 2A football

December, 2017 Posted in Other

By James Day

HILLSBORO — Santiam High’s first state football championship since 1972 will have to wait. But it might not be too long the way things are going.

The No. 5 Wolverines battled valiantly Nov. 25 against No. 2 Monroe, but the Dragons pulled away from a 22-22 fourth-quarter tie to take a 36-22 victory at Hillsboro Stadium. Monroe finishes the season 11-1, with Santiam 11-2 in its third year under coach Dustin McGee.

The Wolverines have showed marked improvement in all three of McGee’s seasons, starting with a 4-5 season in 2015 (a two-win improvement over 2014). Santiam was 7-4 last year and won a playoff game, with this year’s squad turning in a four-game improvement, including a stirring 23-22 win against top-ranked St. Paul in the semifinals.

“We got beat by a better football team. That’s what it’s all about,” McGee told Our Town after the Monroe loss. “You had two really good teams playing for the championship. Both teams gave a 1,000 percent effort, but we just came up a hair short.”

The Wolverines, who trailed 14-0 early and 20-14 at halftime, knotted the game at 22-22 on a perfectly executed option pitch from sophomore quarterback Colin Thurston to senior wideout Jordan Lanham, who sped up the left sideline for the score. Trevor Tinney ran up the middle for two points and the game was tied 22-22 with 4:09 left in the third.

Monroe answered with a 12-play, 72-yard drive that consumed nearly seven minutes, scoring on a 2-yard run by Colton Sutton with 9:01 left in the game.

Santiam appeared to tie the game again on its next possession when a scrambling Thurston hit Lanham with a deep pass that the speedy receiver turned into another 65-yard scoring play. However, the play was nullified because Thurston was ruled to have been beyond the line of scrimmage. It was the second Thurston TD pass that was wiped out by a penalty – a 19-yard scoring toss to Tinney was called back by a holding penalty with six seconds left in the half.

The closing moments of that first half were a whirlwind of scoring. The period entered its final two minutes with Monroe leading 14-0, but three touchdowns were scored in the next 90 seconds.

First, Thurston hit Brody Davidson on a 27-yard screen pass for a score on a third-and-goal play. Earlier in the drive Davidson and Thurston had hooked up on a 42-yard screen pass. Santiam’s two-point conversion failed, keeping the score 14-6.

Monroe countered with an 8-yard TD pass from Kairen Garber to Trent Warden. With 45 seconds left the Dragons had extended the lead to 20-6.

Then, Thurston and Lanham hooked up on a 48-yard play followed by a 12-yard scoring pass with 26 seconds left. Davidson ran for the two points and it was 20-14.

Monroe outgained Santiam 334-249 and had a 251-107 edge on the ground. Zach Young led the way with 133 yards on 28 carries. Lanham led Santiam with 75 yards rushing and had 70 more yards receiving. Tinney rushed for 34 yards, while Thurston hit 8 of 17 passes for 142 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Tinney led the defense with 13 total tackles, followed by Devon Whitmire (10), Sean Horning (nine) and Lanham, Dustin Keys and Quinton Cook with seven apiece. Horning had seven solo tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss.

“They had a big size advantage on us and I knew it would be tough to stop their run game,” McGee said. “We had some big plays, and I thought we played really well.”

Note: The Wolverines lost two-way junior lineman Wyatt Lyon to a bone break and a dislocation in his right ankle just four minutes into the game. The game was halted while medical staff tended to Lyon. He was transported via ambulance to a hospital. McGee told Our Town on Sunday that Lyon was able to go home Saturday night and will have surgery soon.

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