Banks caps season with 56-28 win over Cascade
That's what it was for a Banks football team that defeated Cascade 56-28 in a "culminating week" game on Kelly Field Friday night, April 9, at Banks High School. But while the Braves turned a competitive first-half game into a route midway through the second-half, this night was more about what this team had done and been through the last six weeks, this past year, and throughout their careers that for the seniors ended with a final game in front of — at least some of — the Banks faithful.
"This meant everything to me," Banks senior lineman Tyler Exline said. "This game is the most important thing in my life besides my family, and I had to sit out the last eight games of last year, so to come out here and play with this team, at home, one last time — it meant everything."
Exline is one of nine Braves seniors who've seemingly seen it all over their career. A state championship two years ago, a runner-up finish last year, and then a season that almost didn't happen because of a pandemic that's taken a year's worth of memories from kids who'll never get them back. And it's what they've lost that made this game and this night what it ultimately was — a chance to say goodbye.
"It was just nice to have that ending," Exline said. "We've worked our butts off just to have a chance to finish things the right way, and it meant a lot to me, and I know to all the other guys to be able have this night."
Banks head coach Cole Linehan shared in his seniors' joy after the game, speaking to the work they put in to earn a final hurrah. The Braves played five road games prior to this night, and knowing that, the coach seemed to relish what was for a group of kids who worked for the moment.
"Our whole goal was to get a home game," Linehan said. "I'm so proud of all these kids. Exline, Ramsey Herring, Cade Buchanan, Jack Walker, they were all leaders for us and this felt like football tonight, the way it's supposed to be."
The Braves never trailed in the game, taking an early 7-0 lead on a Jamar Flippen one-yard touchdown run. They struck again just over a minute into the second quarter when junior receiver Aaron Brown caught a slant from junior quarterback Cooper Gobel and went 85-yards for a score to put Banks ahead 14-0.
The game appeared headed for a blowout when the Braves added a third score, this one on a 27-yard pass from Gobel to tight end Charles White that made it 21-0 following a third successful Wyatt Hesselman extra point. But Cascade answered, scoring on consecutive drives to cut the lead to 21-12 with 3:41 remaining in the half.
"That's a tough team," Linehan said. "They can score quick and if you're not disciplined they'll gash you, and they got a few over on us."
Banks responded however, getting a second scoring pass from Gobel to White. This one from 5-yards just 1:29 before the half, putting the home team ahead 28-12.
There was no quit in Cascade however, as the Cougars cut the lead to eight after quarterback Jacob Hage ran 70 yards on a quarterback keeper and converted a successful 2-point attempt, making the score 28-20. But it was all Braves from there, getting a 2-yard Elliot King touchdown a minute-and-a-half later, a White 1-yard scoring run to start the fourth quarter, a 5-yard White catch and run shortly thereafter, and finally, a Gobel to Brown 11-yard touchdown pass to cap the Braves scoring and put them ahead 56-20 midway through the final quarter.
"I thought it was a real team effort tonight," Exline said about Banks' performance. "I thought we were a little sloppy defensively in the beginning, but we found our passion. We trained for eight months waiting for this chance to play and we weren't going to let ourselves down."
Gobel passed for 353 yards and five touchdowns in the game, while Brown caught eight passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns, also adding an interception.
"Aaron (Brown) viewed himself to start the season as a golfer, and he's a heck of a stick," Linehan said, "But he's a heck of a football player and it's been fun to see him develop."
White too left his mark on the game, providing a rock defensively at his middle linebacker position, while wreaking havoc for the Cascade defense on the offensive side of the ball. The junior tight end finished with 11 catches for 173 yards, with three touchdown catches and a touchdown run. Linehan couldn't say enough about the 6-foot-2, 230 pound tight end after the game, speaking not only to his size and strength, but the hands that proved deadly for a Cougar defense that just couldn't bottle him up.
"He's just a dude for us," Linehan said. "He's not getting tackled by just one guy and he's got the best hands of anyone I've ever coached. He built himself into a heck of a player during all that time off and he deserves all the credit."
The coach went on to praise all of his seniors for staying the course, including Cam Louie, the aforementioned Walker and Herring, and others.
"These seniors just have so much passion for the game and they've given everything," the coach said. "They never got frustrated and they jumped through all the hoops they had to jump through to get to this season. What leaders, and it's been fun to see."
Exline was equally praising talking about his teammates, but — opposed to his coach — talked openly about the frustration of the lead-up to the season.
"It was just crazy," he said. "The grind of having hope, then getting crushed. Having hope again, then getting crushed again, the ups and down were incredible. But we kept faith and here we are, ending it the way we should."
In other games:
Century fell to Lincoln 25-14 thanks in part to seven Cardinal sacks. The Jaguars (4-2) were without standout senior lineman Brody Reese her injured his foot last week versus Madison, but were led by quarterback Zach Boehler who passed for a touchdown and talled nearly 200 yards of total offense. Glencoe made quick work of Franklin, defeating the host Lightning 39-0. The Crimson Tide were led by Jackson Kind's 200 yards rushing, along with Royce Fasel's 232 combined yards rushing and passing and six total touchdowns. Hood River Valley's Tanner Fletcher ran for six touchdowns in Eagles' 58-14 win over Hillsboro (2-3). Slade Shufelt led the Spartans with 76 yards on 17 carries, while Jackson Godsey tallied six unassisted tackles. Liberty (2-4) ended the year on a positive note when the young Falcons team defeated the Metro League's Southridge 42-20 at Southridge High School. Forest Grove (0-6) woefully ended their 2021 season with a 30-0 Pigeon Bowl defeat at the hands of the McMinnville Grizzlies at McMinnville High School.
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