Estacada football stayed undefeated on Thursday night, beating Tri-Valley foe Madras by a score of 42-14 on the road. The Rangers once again found success in the running game, pounding away at the White Buffalo defense for 286 yards and five touchdowns.
Estacada establishes the run yet again
During the first part of the game, senior running back Jake Behrman put his stamp on the proceedings. Behrman found the end zone three times in the first half, including a 36-yard scamper that opened the scoring for Estacada. Later, players such as Tucker Jackson and James Durand beat the Buffs with their legs. Much of that success was thanks to the stellar play of quarterback Cory James, who runs the option like a seasoned pro for the Rangers. Jackson led the team with 70 yards rushing, while James added 67 and a touchdown. Behrman had 66 and Durand finished with 51, while Hunter McDonald also scored.
Estacada averaged over eight yards per carry against Madras, and in doing so, they not only wore down the White Buffalos — they also wore down the clock. Maintaining possessions helps to keep the defense fresh, and that strategy worked to perfection on Thursday night. After leading 36-6 at halftime, the Rangers were able to use their unstoppable run game to take chances away from the Madras offense.
The biggest reason for the team's success on the ground, according to head coach Andy Mott, is the skilled play of Estacada's offensive line.
"We've got a good, strong line," said Mott after the win. "A lot of returners from last year that came back. That's the heart and soul of our team: the offensive line."
Of course, even the best blockers will go unnoticed if there isn't a quality running back — or a few of them — bursting through the holes they create.
"We also have a good stable of backs," added Mott. "There's three or four guys that can run the ball well, so keeping them fresh and going is the key."
It should be noted that the Rangers' success was not entirely on the ground. Cory James found Caleb McDonald open for a 19-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. James finished the game 2-for-6 with 30 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Defense bends, but never really breaks
While Estacada ended the game up by four touchdowns, there were times when it looked like Madras might make a run in front of the home crowd. Three plays into the second quarter, Dru Boyle ran a score in from 11 yards out to cut the lead to 14-6. The Rangers responded by reeling off three more touchdowns before the halftime whistle.
In the third quarter, the Estacada defense appeared to be bending after allowing a 49-yard pass play from Boyle to wide receiver Cael White. That big gain set up Boyle's second rushing touchdown of the night, and a two-point conversion made it 36-14.
The Rangers were able to buckle down and finish out the win, but Mott noted that he would have preferred to see his team play a full 48 minutes without mistakes.
"I wish we would've played a complete game tonight," said Mott. "We were really strong in the first half, and then we kind of let up a little bit there."
"Kudos to Madras," Mott added. "Those guys fought hard, and they're a heck of a ball team. Kurt (Taylor)'s got them playing hard. I told him that they're going to get some wins this year in league."
On the path to a state championship
Now that Estacada is sitting at 6-0, the team is in prime position to make the playoffs and potentially do so as the Tri-Valley champions. After the game, Madras head coach Kurt Taylor said that Estacada is "a deep playoff team," noting that he expects the Rangers to go far this year.
As for Andy Mott, he agrees that his team is good enough to hoist the hardware at the end of the season.
"Absolutely," said Mott, regarding whether his team is a state title contender. "We have to get through our league first, but absolutely. This team has the potential to get there."
To get there, the team will need to keep running over opponents as they look to stay undefeated in the Tri-Valley Conference. With six weeks in the books and only three to go, it seems strange to think that the coaching staff wouldn't have adequate film on their next matchup. However, that is exactly the case when it comes to Molalla.
"They've had a couple games off because of COVID," noted Mott, "so I haven't seen much of them. I know it's a rivalry game for us, though, so it will be tough."
The Rangers face off with the Indians at 7 p.m. next Thursday in Estacada.
at Madras High School
E — 14 22 0 6 — 42
M — 0 6 8 0 — 14
E — Jake Behrman 36-yard run (Cory James run)
E — James 19-yard pass to Caleb McDonald
M — Dru Boyle 11-yard run
E — Behrman 6-yard run (James run)
E — Hunter McDonald 3-yard run (Behrman run)
E — Behrman 7-yard run
M — Boyle 3-yard run (Boyle pass to Reece White)
E — James 4-yard run
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