Wildcats reach OSAA state bracket for fifth-straight year

by: JEFF GOODMAN / FILE - Derek Sunkle (15) rushed for 267 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Wilsonville football team in a play-in win over Eagle Point at home Nov. 1.If the Wilsonville football team hadn’t forfeited its league win over Milwaukie with an academically ineligible player, it might not have needed a play-in game to extend its season.

The No. 11 Wildcats couldn’t undo that damage, though, so they happily took matters into their own hands.

They overwhelmed Eagle Point in a 35-7 victory Nov. 1 at Randall Stadium, earning a spot in the Class 5A playoffs for the fifth year in a row. They will face Corvallis-Crescent Valley in the first round on the road Nov. 8.

Wilsonville (6-4) scored the first 35 points of the game and came up with several defensive stops in the red zone as part of a complete effort against the No. 21 Eagles (5-5), who have not reached the state playoffs since 1997.

“There’s a reason we line up at the 20-yard line in pregame (warm-ups), doing jumping jacks, doing our hits,” coach Adam Guenther said. “They take pride. That’s our area. When someone gets down there, it’s time to suck it up and get the job done.”

The Wildcats got the job done to stay undefeated at home this year — on the turf, anyway. They vacated their 51-7 conference victory over Milwaukie after reporting a violation to the OSAA in the week leading up to their regular-season finale.

Wilsonville has now won three games in a row, and it has held seven of its 10 opponents this season to 14 points or fewer.

“We like our rhythm playing every week,” senior running back Derek Sunkle said. “A bye week might’ve thrown us off.”

Sunkle probably would’ve been fine either way. He unleashed another phenomenal performance, rushing for 267 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. The senior, who broke the school’s single-season rushing record against Sandy, has racked up 1,786 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground in 10 games.

“We’re just getting back to our basics,” Sunkle said. “Earlier in the year we tried to get into new schemes, but really we needed to just get down to basics.”

Cole Wilson complemented Sunkle as an asset at the goal line, taking two of his five carries for short touchdown runs.

Wilson gave the team its first points on a 3-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter to cap a 10-play, 68-yard drive.

Wilsonville then took control of the game in the second quarter, turning stellar defense into highlight-reel offense.

After a missed field goal by the Eagles, Sunkle used a crafty spin move to break free for a 51-yard touchdown run to give the Wildcats a 14-0 lead.

“That’s probably my first spin move of the season,” Sunkle said. “We practice it every day. You practice it and practice it so you can do it in a game.”

After a sack by Colin Cubbage on Eagle Point’s next possession, Wilsonville capped a 65-yard drive with a powerful 1-yard run by Wilson.

And after a turnover on downs by the Eagles, the Wildcats extended their lead to 28-0 after Sunkle charged 42 yards for a score with just 11.4 seconds left in the opening half.

“At home, when they get in the red zone, you’ve gotta turn it up,” said Cubbage, who finished with two sacks and five tackles. “Our defense, mentally, we’ll just go crazy, play fast and not let them score.”

Wilsonville added its final points with less than a minute left in the third quarter on a 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Elijah Benedick to receiver Brandon Chao, who made an acrobatic grab in the end zone.

Eagle Point’s only touchdown came on a 52-yard punt return by Lucas Morris midway through the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats needed sound defense to contain Eagles quarterback Jorge Quintero, an elusive scrambler who entered the game with 1,917 passing yards and 23 touchdowns.

“That kid’s heart weighs more than his entire body,” Guenther said. “He’s a stud. He’s a heck of a player. We were getting pressure on him constantly, he was running for his life and he made some great plays in the process.”

Wilsonville will likely need similar success on defense to contain Crescent Valley (6-3), which has scored at least 48 points on five occasions this season.

“You’ve gotta be playing your best ball when the playoffs hit,” Guenther said. “And to go a long way, you’ve gotta have a little luck, you’ve gotta stay healthy and you’ve gotta play hard. ... For this team, it was good to keep playing. Nobody’s worse for the wear.”

For updates, follow Jeff Goodman on Twitter.



Wilsonville 35, Eagle Point 7

Nov. 1 at Randall Stadium

1 2 3 4 F

Eagle Point 0 0 0 7 7

Wilsonville 7 21 7 0 35

First quarter

W — (7:19) Cole Wilson 3 run (Harry England kick)

Second quarter

W — (8:58) Derek Sunkle 51 run (England kick)

W — (1:40) Wilson 1 run (England kick)

W — (:11.4) Sunkle 42 run (England kick)

Third quarter

W — (:35.5) Brandon Chao 27 pass from Elijah Benedick (England kick)

Fourth quarter

EP — (6:10) Lucas Morris 52 punt return (Brandon Fincher kick)

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