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District champs: Kennedy blasts Culver, moves to No. 1 in Class 2A

James DayOn a cool autumn Senior Night the Kennedy High football team checked off the final box in an undefeated Special District 2 season.

The defending state champion Trojans dismantled Culver 40-6 on Oct. 25 to improve to 5-0 in league play and advance to No. 1 in the OSAA’s Class 2A rankings.

And because Chemawa shut down their program midseason because of a lack of players Kennedy got a well-deserved bye this week.

“It will be nice to have a week off and let [the] guys recover and get ready for the playoffs,” Kennedy junior quarterback Dylan Kleinschmit told Our Town. Kleinschmit threw three touchdown passes and intercepted a pair of
Culver passes.

The undisputed league title was the first for Trojans coach Joe Panuke (Kennedy shared the 2015 title with Regis and Central Linn). Since last Sept. 21 when Kennedy lost to Sheridan the Trojans have gone 16-1, with the lone loss to Class 3A Rainier. Sheridan was their toughest out in district play and Kennedy won the game by 17 points.

Kennedy’s Bruce Beyer, who rarely leaves the field, scored TDs three different ways against Culver. He rushed three yards for a score, made an acrobatic leaping catch of an 8-yard scoring pass from Kleinschmit and used excellent vision and timing to pick off a Culver pass and race 56 yards for a score that made it 20-6 Trojans late in the second quarter. Beyer also kicked four PATs.

The Kennedy defense was magnificent. The Bulldogs’ lone score came on a kickoff return, their offense never penetrated the Trojans’ 30, and Kennedy had four interceptions.

“They were tough,” said Panuke of
his defense. “They played real physical, downhill bloody-nose football. They ran to the ball, maintained their gaps and tackled well. They did a great job tonight.”

Kennedy almost assuredly will take its No. 1 ranking into the playoffs and host
a game the week of Nov. 8-9

The Silverton High football team has been blessed with some fine running backs in recent years, from Chris Garcia and Sam Kuschnick to Noah Dahl.

But this year’s squad has to have the best one-two backfield punch in recent memory with seniors Hayden Roth and Nathan Kuenzi.

Often playing in the same backfield and often blocking for each other, the two seniors combined for 1,198 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns heading into the McKay game. The Foxes manhandled the Royal 54-6 to move to 8-0 and faced West Albany, also 8-0, for the district title Friday, Nov. 1.

Individually, the 6-1, 200-pound Roth has rushed for 651 yards and 13 touchdowns, while the 6-1, 180-pound Kuenzi has 547 yards and eight scores. Kuenzi, who carried the ball 49 times against Dallas last year when Roth was hurt, has been a bit more of a workhorse, with 100 carries to 80 for Roth.

But it should be noted that Roth also plays both ways. He has a key role on the defensive line. And his return to health after ankle and foot injuries has been a boon to the Foxes.

“Roth and Kuenzi have been great senior leaders this year,” Silverton coach Josh Craig told Our Town. “Both of them have carried the ball very well, and have lead blocked well for each other. They have shown a lot of commitment this season and attention to detail. Being able to have a balanced running attack really helps us control the game; these two are a major part of our success so far this season.

“They’re just fun to coach and I appreciate their enthusiasm this season.”

Volleyball: It isn’t often that Kennedy and Silverton battle head-to-head in athletics. But it happened Oct. 21, when the Trojans and Foxes took part in an unusual nonleague volleyball contest. Kennedy, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, already had clinched the Tri-River Conference title. The Foxes are battling for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Class 5A Mid-Willamette Conference.

The match was a five-set nailbiter, with Kennedy triumphing 15-12 in the final set.

Boys soccer: The Silverton boys teams was 4-1-2 in the Mid-Willamette Conference and ranked eighth in Class 5A as Our Town went to press. The Foxes are in third place, trailing only 6-1 Corvallis and 5-1-1 West Albany. The top four teams advance to the Class 5A playoffs, with one at-large berth available.

The Foxes’ girls squad, meanwhile, has been on a 3-0-1 run to move into fourth place in the Mid-Willamette. The Foxes have allowed just two goals during the run and senior goalkeeper Mia George has become the all-time Silverton leader in saves with 289.

Yuri Chavez at the World Ironman triathlon in Nice, France. Submitted Photo

Triathlon: Local athlete Yuri Chavez is back from a memorable trip to Nice, France, where he competed in the world championships for the World Ironman 70.3-kilometer triathlon. Chavez finished 86th out of 214 athletes in his division. His time was five hours, 35 minutes and 14 seconds.

“It wasn’t a particularly noteworthy finish for me,” Chavez told Our Town. “I was able to complete the event and enjoyed the experience of race day and my time in France. We were blessed with perfect weather conditions and a beautiful venue.”

Chavez, a 56-year-old nurse-anesthetist at Legacy Silverton Medical Center, qualified for the world event by capturing his age group at an Aug. 12 event in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

A 70.3 triathlon is exactly half the distance of a full Ironman. Chavez, who has been involved with triathlons for 28 years, participated in the full Ironman worlds in Kona, Hawaii in 1994 and 1996.

Chavez trains up to 12 hours per week, swimming at the community pool in Woodburn and Silverton Reservoir, biking on the roads of Mount Angel, Silverton, Silver Falls and points in between, while also biking on an
indoor trainer.

“Overall, it was a great personal experience for me,”Chavez said. “I have many wonderful memories from the trip. I had great support from my wife,
Maria Kraemer, preparing for the event. I couldn’t have done it without her. I met many interesting people from all around the world. I hope to have the opportunity to participate in a similar event again in the future.”

Running: The 5K run and walk that is run in conjunction with the Hazelnut Festival is set for Dec. 1. The race starts and finishes at the Festhalle in Mount Angel. For information or to register go to http://racenorthwest.com/run-for-your-nuts/

Follow me on Twitter.com @jameshday.

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