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Football lessons: Foxes fall to Thurston in 5A state semifinals

There are 35 teams in Class 5A football in Oregon. Only four of them advanced to the semifinals and played Nov. 23 amid the glorious collegiate sports splendor of Autzen Stadium in Eugene.

Silverton was one of them. The Foxes lost, 44-14, to defending champion Thurston and finished 10-2 in their third year under coach Josh Craig.

It was the first 10-win season since 2014 and the first trip to the semis since 2014. But like 33 other 5A teams, the Foxes were faced with accepting the fact that they were not going to be the one team, and only one team, that celebrates on the final day.

That’s a tough transition for players
to make, and it’s one that you have to make in a very short period of time.
One moment you’re playing your guts out… and the next moment it’s over and
you’re standing on the goal line staring at your coaches.

It’s supposed to be a team-coach private moment, but the program has let me in. That’s a function of the trust you can build up during eight years of roaming the sidelines. And the coaches know that I would not betray that trust.

There is a fascinating hierarchy in the Silverton football family in which the seniors come first. They have worked and sweated the most and they are expected to lead. And they do. And everything else seems to stem from that relationship.

Six sophomores were on the Silverton roster in 2017 when the Foxes beat Thurston 31-14 in the playoffs: Grant Buchheit, Nathan Kuenzi, Zach MacBean, Hayden Roth, Tashaun Treat and Spencer Von Flue. All received all-district mention as seniors and all except the injured MacBean were out there mixing it up with Thurston at Autzen, with help from other seniors such as Thomas Patterson, Tanner Ellsworth, Casey Brooks and Cole Runion.

The coaches praised the seniors and told all the Foxes how proud they were of them. It was that simple… and yet profound. How hard will the sophomores and juniors work in the future to maintain the tradition, to keep the circle unbroken? The Thurston game is over. What happens next?

Kuenzi recalled a comment one of the coaches made in that post-game session at the goal line.

“It’s like Coach (John) Howard said… if this is the worst feeling in your life you are going to lead a charmed life. It’s been a good ride with all my brothers… the seniors, the underclassmen, everybody. I wouldn’t want to play on any other team.”

Kennedy, meanwhile, played for its second consecutive Class 2A title against Heppner after Our Town’s presstime. The Trojans advanced with a 15-12 semifinals win Nov. 23 against Monroe at Hillsboro Stadium. See the Our Town Facebook page and our Dec. 15 print edition for a report on the Trojans.

Boys soccer: The Foxes finished 9-3-3 in their first season under coach Marty Limbird, advancing to the Class 5A quarterfinals before falling 1-0 to eventual state runner-up Wilsonville.

The three losses came by a total of three goals and the Foxes were ranked No. 5 in the state while also turning in the highest grade-point average for the classification.

“We lose some seniors who led the charge and brought our team together as the glue, but we have some strong players returning next year,” said Limbird, formerly the award-winning coach at Chemeketa Community College.

The Foxes lose senior starters Cory Garlinghouse, Brian Leon, Owen Cote and Jon Rivoli, with goal-scoring dynamo Britton Ullan leading the returners.

“Next year is bound to be exciting, too,” Limbird said.

Volleyball: Kennedy’s Class 2A state championship squad dominated the
Tri-River Conference all-stars.

Trojans senior Sophia Carley was named player of the year and Laura Beyer earned the coaching honor. Kennedy finished 16-0 in league play without dropping a set and were 33-1 overall.

Joining Carley on the first team were Ellie Cantu, Hailey Arritola, Emma Beyer and Elise Suing. Ibeth Gomez earned second-team honors.

Hoops: Area teams start action this week, with the Silverton girls opening at home Wednesday, Dec. 4 against Churchill. The Kennedy girls visit Molalla the same night, while the Kennedy boys host Clatskanie on Dec. 6. The Silverton boys open Dec. 7 at St. Helens.

Running: The 5K run and walk associated with the Mount Angel Hazelnut Festival is at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. See www.racenorthwest.com for more info.

Follow me on Twitter.com @jameshday.

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