Champs again! Foxes hold off West Albany in instant classic

November 2021 Posted in School, sports

James Day

When the football schedules come out you always circle the Silverton-West Albany match-up. The past 8 times the two teams have played, including Friday night’s 28-21 Foxes win at McGinnis Field, either a league title has been on the line or the game has been in the playoffs.

The two schools are 4-4 in those eight contests, with Silverton holding a 144-140 edge in points. The Foxes won the league title in 2018, the Bulldogs in 2019, with COVID wiping out the
2020 race.

The Foxes moved into the No. 1 spot in the Class 5A rankings and clinched the 2021 title for the Special District 3 (Mid-Willamette Conference) title with the Oct. 22 victory. Silverton closes the regular season with a Senior Night contest against Lebanon after Our Town’s presstime. The playoffs start Nov. 5.

Silverton-West Albany version 8.0 marked the fourth consecutive match-up in which the victor won by 7 points or less. But Friday night’s contest, played in rain-free low-50s weather with a just-past-full moon slipping in and out of the clouds, didn’t start out that way.

Silverton led 21-7 at halftime and was on top 28-7 with seven minutes left after a scintillating 63-yard TD run by Keegan Walter. The Bulldogs, however returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown and added another score on a brilliant 33-yard catch by freshman receiver Tyler Hart-McNally with 1:12 left for a 28-21 score.

Silverton fans went into shock moments later when Gavin Miller picked up a Foxes fumble and nearly took it to the house. A touchdown-saving tackle stopped him at the 38 and West Albany advanced to the 19 before running out of time.

SHS Football Coach Josh Craig

“That was a bit of a scary ending for sure,” Foxes coach Josh Craig told Our Town. “We played real well for 3.5 quarters. West Albany… they just did not give up.”

Two-way senior lineman Orie Schaffers agreed.

“This was one of the toughest teams we’ve played,” said the 6-4, 280-pound Schaffers. “They put up a fight, but we won it… and I think we should have won it.”

Kennedy, meanwhile, continued its emphatic run through Class 2A’s Special District 2 (Tri-River Conference). The Trojans, ranked No. 2, were 5-0 in league play heading into their finale with Salem Academy. JFK has outscored league foes 222-34, an average margin of 41-7.

Senior QB Riley Cantu has been solid throughout, despite battling a thumb injury, but it should be noted the most of the team’s other offensive playmakers, Elijah Traeger, Owen Bruner, Luke Beyer, William Schaecher and Isaac Berning, are underclassmen. And the defense has been a brick wall.

Orie Schaffers

“I am happy with our growth and development,” Trojans coach Joe Panuke said. “Our guys are continuing to work hard and strive to get better every week.”

Kennedy’s lone loss was a 34-28 home defeat Sept. 24 vs. No. 1 Heppner. The Trojans and Mustangs have been battling for 2A supremacy in recent years. Heppner downed JFK in the 2015 and 2019 state title games and the Trojans took out Heppner in the first round on the way to its 2018 title.    

Soccer: The Silverton girls squad fell just short in a bid for a league title, with Crescent Valley, the 5A state champion in 2018, 2019, taking a 4-2 win Oct. 21 at McGinnis Field. Both teams came in undefeated in league, but the Raiders dominated the first half, leading 2-0.

But the Foxes came out on fire after intermission, scoring twice in the first seven minutes on a Marissa Johnston penalty kick and a Yesenia Gaspar rebound. The poised Raiders, however, tacked on two more goals to emerge victorious. Silverton took on Corvallis earlier this week with second place on the line. The top four teams in the league automatically qualify for the playoffs.

JFK Football Coach Joe Panuke

The Silverton boys, meanwhile, were 4-1-3 in league play and also in line for a potential playoff spot. The Foxes, ranked 7th in Class 5A hosted Corvallis in the regular season finale.

The girls playoffs start Nov. 2, with the boys getting underway the next day. 

Volleyball: Silverton was 12-3 in the Mid-Willamette Conference, tied for second with Crescent Valley, heading into the final week. The Foxes already have clinched a spot in the Class 5A playoffs, which started Oct. 30. Quarterfinals are Nov. 2, with the final four set for Nov. 5-6 at Liberty High in Hillsboro.

Follow me on @jameshday. 

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