Banks rolls over Molalla 62-15
They say it's not how you start, but how you finish that matters.
Good thing for Banks, because on Sept. 15 things couldn't have started much worse for the Braves and junior quarterback Hayden Vandehey, whose first pass on the first play from scrimmage bounced high off the hands of his intended receiver and into those of Molalla defensive back Casey Brooks, who returned it the distance for an early 7-0 Indian lead.
"That was not the way I wanted to start the game," Vandehey said with a smirk. "But we came back as a team, stepped up our game and took it to them."
That they did.
Following the ensuing kickoff, the Braves' Blaine Herb caught a short pass, broke a handful of tackles and scampered up the near sideline for a 63-yard touchdown, tying the game and starting an avalanche of Banks points en route to a 62-15 blowout home win.
"I'm proud of the way the kids played," said Banks head coach Cole Linehan. "We had a little adversity on that first play, but how about going 60 yards on the next play? These kids are resilient."
Molalla head coach Tim Baker saw the first play a little differently.
"It was nice to get that pick, but I think we got comfortable after that and let our guard down," said Baker. "Banks is a good team and probably deserves their high ranking, but we definitely made some mistakes that didn't help from there on."
On the Indians' second possession, the visitors drove deep into Banks territory with a combination of long runs and passes, coupled with a 15-yard late hit penalty. But after driving inside the 10-yard line, the Braves' defense bowed up and held Molalla on a third and long to force a turnover on downs and a series of quick-hitters that left the Indians stunned.
Banks drove 90 yards in seven plays, capped by a 13 yard Vandehey quarterback run to make the score 14-7. Then, after an Indian three-and-out, the Braves went 55 yards in two plays, culminating with a second Vandehey score, this one from 42 yards to make it 21-7 with 2:31 remaining in the first quarter.
"It was fun tonight," said Vandehey. "I definitely feel like we've gotten better every week."
The Braves' 6-foot-7 receiver Blake Gobel opened the second quarter with a 10-yard touchdown catch, then following an Indians fumble, junior receiver Blake Markham made a great catch and run, scoring from 17 yards and making it a 35-7 game.
Molalla didn't quit though, making it 35-15 on their next possession when junior running back Silverio Lopez caught a seam route, broke a couple Brave tackles and went 65 yards for a score.
But like all night, Banks answered.
As the clock was ticking down late in the first half, Indian quarterback Chase Jazdinski through a hail mary of sorts up the right sideline, only to have it intercepted by Markham and returned 50 yards to the Molalla 42-yard line. On the very next play, Bennett Turner caught a 42-yard score from Vandehey and the Braves were headed to the locker room up 41-15.
Vandehey finished the half running or throwing for all six Brave scores.
"Hayden is doing a great job," said Linehan. "He's a student of the game. He sees things and he just works out there, and that's what a quarterback should do. And he definitely has some weapons to throw to."
And Vandehey would be the first to tell you that.
"We have playmakers everywhere and I just need to get them the ball," said the quarterback. "And they'll do the rest."
The second half was more of the same, with Banks getting their first score with 6:41 left in the third and their last on an 85-yard run from sophomore running back Martial Stegemeier with 1:54 remaining. It was a dominating performance and with the win the Braves improved to 3-0 and will take that momentum into next week's conference-opener at Tillamook Friday, Sept. 22. Linehan like where how they're coming together and likes his kids, but also hesitates to look beyond next week and is keeping his team focused on the task at hand.
"We're 3-0 and we're finding where guys fit," the coach said. "Each week we've come up with a new 11 on both sides of the ball, moving kids in and around and I think we've found something. I like this group of kids and where we're at personnel wise."
Baker said he wouldn't let the lopsided outcome deter his kids from concentrating on their upcoming Tri-Valley Conference schedule, and refused to believe this game was an accurate representation of who they are and what they can accomplish.
"We're close with some things we're doing, but we just have to keep the faith and keep working," said Baker. "We were just off tonight. I don't think the score is indicative of who we are, but I can't take anything away from Banks because they're a darn good team."