Banks responds to tough defeat with 41-0 shutout of Astoria
They say what defines us is how we rise after falling. In that case, Banks is defined by the type of grit, determination, and explosiveness necessary to make some waves in the upcoming OSAA 4A State Playoffs.
The Braves whitewashed defending Cowapa League champion Astoria 41-0, and in the process exorcised the demons from last week's unthinkable setback.
In didn't take the Braves long to put it behind them. In fact, it took 54-seconds. On the first drive of the game, junior quarterback Hayden Vandehey hit senior receiver Gunnar Partain on a 55-yard touchdown pass, and after an Astoria three-and-out Vandehey hit Blaine Herb for a 54-yard score, giving Banks a 14-0 lead and quickly wiping from their memories the gut-wrenching 51-49 home loss to the Indians.
"That's the sign of a good team," said Banks head coach Cole Linehan. "Can they bounce back and respond after such a tough loss."
And respond they did. Vandehey - the first-year starting signal-caller - continued his torrid pace, throwing four touchdown passes to four different receivers. But the story of this game was not Vandehey and his numerous offensive weapons, but rather a defense that had something to prove after giving-up a handful of explosive plays in last week's heartbreaking defeat.
"Obviously the offense was clicking, but I wanted to see what the defense would do," said Linehan. "I wondered whether they were going to feel sorry for themselves or whether they'd come out and execute. But they played hard and flew around. I was proud of how they performed."
The Fishermen could do little with the ball, gaining just two yards on their first two possessions. And when Banks went 39 yards on their third possession following an Astoria turnover, capped by a Josiah Ochoa 1-yard TD plunge, the Braves had a 21 point lead and were well on their way to a lopsided home win.
"Tonight was a lot of fun," said Banks senior receiver and defensive back Gunnar Partain. "We came out hard and do what we do best, which is score early."
Astoria, prior to tonight, had given up the least amount of points in the Cowapa League. But the Braves made it look easy against the Fishermen and did so in the type of manner second-year coach Linehan has become accustomed to.
"The cool thing about this group is that there are no selfish guys," Linehan said. "When you have a group of athletes like this that are such team guys, that's rare."
On the other side of the ball, defensive back Blake Markham had two interceptions, both of which he returned for more than 40 yards. While noticeably all over the field for the Braves, the 6-foot-3 junior was quick to reference his teammates when asked about his contributions.
"Yeah, I was in the right place at the right time," said the soft spoken Markham. "We were ready for those plays, and it's great knowing my teammates have my back and are doing their job, so I can try to do mine."
While humble, Linehan spoke glowingly of his outstanding defensive back and receiver.
"It's unbelieveable how hard that kid works," said the coach. "He never comes off the field and I've never seen him look tired. The coaches and I are always talking about how much he does for us."
Banks tacked-on a fourth score before the half when Vandehey hit Blake Gobel from 8-yards to make it 28-0, and wasted little time in the third quarter, adding to their lead when Bennett Turner hauled in a high-arching Vandehey toss in the back corner of the end zone to make it 34-0 following a muffed PAT attempt.
Next the Braves will travel to Seaside to take on a Seagulls team that's outscored their last three opponents by a combined total of 156-24.
"Seaside is playing with a lot of confidence and they run the Wing-T, which can be difficult to defend," said Linehan. "So we'll be excited to go over there and see what we can do."
But Partain, while not taking the Seagulls lightly, likes his team's chances on the road next week.
"We just have to keep our defense strong and lockdown their Wing-T," he said. "Because we know our offense will score points."
Banks' game at Seaside will be played Oct. 20 at Seaside High School at 7pm.