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A solid fall – New Foxes coaches shine in debut seasons

James Day

This fall was one of change for Silverton High athletics. Gone were athletic director James Rise, football coach Josh Craig and volleyball coach Kate O’Connor, with Gary Cameron, the girls soccer coach, stepping back to an assistant’s role.

As we approach the end of the regular season the results are in, and they are very good indeed:

Dan Lever
Dan Lever

• The football program, under first-year coach Dan Lever, is 6-2 overall, 6-1 in the Mid-Willamette Conference and has clinched at least a tie for the title. The Foxes are ranked No. 5 in Class 5A and can look forward to at least one home playoff game as they seek to defend their 5A state title.

Reilly Rosecrans
Reilly Rosecrans

• The volleyball squad, led by first-year coach Reilly Rosecrans, is 22-2 overall, 12-1 in the MWC and ranked No. 3 in the state. The Foxes were set to host a playoff match on Saturday, Oct. 29 after Our Town’s presstime, with a win earning them a spot in the Class 5A state tournament in Forest Grove. The Foxes have made regular appearances in the playoffs in recent years, advancing to the quarterfinals in 2015 and last year, but they never have played for a state title.

Renee Cantrell
Renee Cantrell

• Cameron was replaced by Renee Cantrell, who has the Foxes in the thick of the fight for an MWC title. At Our Town’s presstime Silverton was 4-1-1 in league, trailing only 4-0-2 Crescent Valley, which won state titles in 2018 and 2019 and advanced to the semifinals a year ago. Tightly bunched behind the Raiders and Silverton were Woodburn (4-1-1) and West Albany and Corvallis, both 3-2-1. The league receives four automatic playoff bids, with two statewide at-large slots also available.

The upshot is that the new coaches, led by new AD Andy Jones, appear to be working out quite well.

Football: The Foxes played another of their classics on Oct. 21 against West Albany. Starting in 2012 (and with a gap of four years from 2014-17 when West was in Class 6A plus the 2020 COVID year) either the Foxes or the Bulldogs have claimed the league title. They are 5-5 against each other during that stretch and 2-2 in the playoffs. The last time West Albany won a state title, in 2013, the Bulldogs beat Silverton 17-0 in the semifinals. And last season, when the Foxes won their first state title since 1991, they took out West 44-14 in the semifinals.

How important is it when the Foxes face West? During the Senior Night ceremonies before last week’s game more Foxes cited that semifinal win as their “greatest memory” than the state title victory the following weekend against Thurston.

The Bulldogs evened the recent ledger at 5-5 with a 21-20 win in another instant classic. It marked the sixth time in that span that the game was decided by a touchdown or less. It featured a rather sloppy first half in which Silverton led 7-0. A third quarter in which the visitors could do no wrong, scoring on three consecutive drives. And a nailbiter in the 4th when the Foxes pulled within 21-20 on a great 16-yard TD catch by junior WR Cohen Mulick and then drove 88 yards in the game’s final moments before West’s Camden Johnson blocked a field goal try with 9.7 seconds left.

Kennedy, meanwhile, is headed toward its own showdown. The Trojans, top-ranked in their first season in Class 3A, host No. 4 Santiam on Friday, Oct. 28 (after Our Town’s presstime) at Randy Traeger Memorial Field in Mount Angel. Both teams are 6-0 in district play and 8-0 overall. They have combined to allow 51 points, with each team pitching four shutouts along the way. Should be monumental.

Got a news tip? Email me at [email protected]. 

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