Canby football wins first game since 2017
Canby's football team remained on the field a little longer than usual Friday night.
Players posed for pictures, hugged their girlfriends, and at least one lineman even broke down in tears.
For the first time in more than two years, the Cougars had reason to celebrate.
"We've fought for so long," said senior Bryant Raeburn after Canby's 35-28 victory over Oregon City. "Going into the season, I just wanted one (win). That was my goal, and I think we're unstoppable now. We have all the confidence in the world. We've had close games, but we didn't know how to win. I think we really started something here. I'm the happiest man on earth."
The win was Canby's first since Sept. 15, 2017 when the Cougars defeated Newberg by a similar score, 34-27.
"It's unbelievable," senior Wyatt Ramos said." It's been so long since this town has tasted victory. It was unreal. We've been working really hard and we've been so close so many times and have just fallen short. We finally played four full quarters of good football, and it finally paid off."
"Finally," was the first word out of senior Ronan Gay's mouth after Canby had been so close this season in games against Lincoln, South Medford and even Lakeridge.
"Personally, I feel like we should already have two or three (wins)," Gay said. "It feels good to get it out of the way and now it's go time. We can't think about this one too much, although it's awesome. It's back to work."
While the Cougars entered the game confident, Oregon City laid the first lick.
On just the second play of the game, quarterback Trey Martin connected with Calvin Green for a 69-yard touchdown to give the Pioneers a quick 7-0 lead.
But Canby needed only four plays to answer as Chance Miller took an option pitch from Mikey Gibson and outran the Oregon City defense down the sideline for a 67-yard touchdown.
"You've got to get your playmakers the ball," Canby coach Jimmy Joyce said. "That's what this game is about."
The Pioneers then marched to the Canby 1-yard line, but the Cougars' defense stopped Oregon City on fourth down.
After forcing a punt, the Pioneers again drove inside Canby's 10-yard line before fumbling the ball, which was recovered by Raeburn with 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Another Oregon City fumble, recovered by Canby linebacker Rylan Wymer, gave the Cougars the ball inside the Pioneers' 20-yard line.
Ramos then reached the end zone on a 6-yard run to give Canby a 14-7 lead with 3:56 remaining in the first half.
On the first play of the second half, Miller against outran Oregon City's defense for a 59-yard touchdown to extend Canby's lead to 21-7.
"How we started the second half shows a lot about the growth of this program,"Joyce said. "Chance Miller is an absolute beast. When we got here, we didn't know what we had and he was one of the kids that stuck out right away, and as a junior he's already established himself as one of the best players in this league."
After Oregon City went on an eight-play touchdown drive, capped off by a 7-yard touchdown catch by Logan Peyton from Martin to get within 21-14, Miller only needed one play to put the Cougars back up by two scores, catching a screen pass from Gibson and then sprinting 71 yards into the end zone.
"I just tried to break free and get out to the sideline," said Miller, who finished the game with 264 yards and three touchdowns on 10 touches. "It wasn't all just me. We had blockers down the field. This is probably the best feeling I've ever had. We had the energy before the game and during the game we were flying around. We were excited and hyped."
Oregon City kept fighting and got back within one score on another Martin to Green touchdown with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter.
Green, who caught seven passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns, broke his pinky Wednesday at practice, but taped it up and played through the pain.
"I'm grateful that he's on the team and grateful that I was able to play with him," Martin said. "I'm proud of how we played."
An interception by Ramos with 9:02 remaining in the game set up Canby's final score.
"That's when everyone was able to exhale a little bit," Joyce said.
On fourth down from the Oregon City 15-yard line, Jackson Linman out-jumped a Pioneer defender in the back of the end zone to catch a fade from Gibson and put the Cougars up 35-21 with 5:20 remaining in the game.
"I looked at Mikey and he signaled me to do a fade and he threw a perfect ball and I luckily came down with it," Linman.
Joyce said he nearly called a timeout before the play.
"That shows the maturity of Mikey Gibson," said Joyce of the audible. "We had a play called against man coverage, they rolled into a zone and he knew his front side option wasn't there and signaled for a fade backside. It was an amazing call. That's not a sophomore decision usually."
Oregon City scored on a 9-yard touchdown from Martin to Green with 3:34 remaining in the game. But Canby was able to run out the clock on runs by Ramos, Miller and Gibson.
"It's a huge step for the program," Joyce said. "It's a huge step for this community, too. It's a monkey off the back. We've been close and to pull this out against a Three Rivers League opponent is a huge deal for us. We've been building to something special for a long time now. You see it in the kids' faces. You see it in practice. You could feel there was a vibe with the kids on Monday that they were ready to go forward. We have a really good group of seniors who have been through a lot, and they continue to go through a lot. They've had a lot of adversity to overcome this season and through their entire careers. They want to leave on a high note."
Oregon City closees the regular season next week at West Linn.
"We came in too hotheaded," Martin said. "We definitely need to humble ourselves and get ready for next week. It's battle of the bridge against West Linn. It's going to be a big game. I'm excited."
The Cougars host Roseburg in another must-win game for Canby to have any shot at the playoffs.
"We just have to take care of business, and then it's up to a computer," Joyce said, referring to the OSAA rankings. "And if the computer says no, and we finish this season with two wins, I'm going to be pretty happy. To head into week nine with a playoff spot on the line, that's pretty cool."
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