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Logan Kind, Ashton Crossen, and a stout defense lead the way for the undefeated Braves.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks' Ashton Crossen carries the ball past a Blake Jewett block during the Braves' playoff game with Sisters Friday night, Nov. 4, at Hare Field in Hillsboro.Previously undefeated Banks stayed perfect, using a stout defense and bruising offensive attack to defeat Sisters 47-8 in the first round of the 3A state playoffs Friday night, Nov. 4, at Hare Field in Hillsboro.

Sisters entered the game with a reputation of offensive physicality, but don't tell that to the Braves who were more than happy to oblige the visitors' physical nature.

"Our defense is just fun to watch out there and I just love how hard they play," Banks head coach Cole Linehan said. "Everybody flies to the football, they put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and make big stops when we need them. Our defensive line led by Luke Bigsby and Daevon Vereen were outstanding once again, and there were times when we had eight guys involved in a tackle."

Linehan said that going into the game he and his coaching staff knew the Outlaws would be the best team they'd faced in almost two months, but at the same time knew that the opposition's strength—a sound running game—played right into theirs.

"We expected them to try to run the ball, but we liked our game plan because stopping the run is a strength of others," the coach said. "Going in, I would say they were the best team we had played in six or seven weeks, and in the playoffs you always expect the team's best. But we had a great week of practice and it showed with the way the kids executed the game plan."

Banks was led by running back Ashton Crossen who finished with 121 yards and three touchdowns rushing, along with tight end Logan Kind who caught seven passes for 138 yards and a score.

Their coach was obviously pleased with their performance, but at the same time far from surprised by the production he's just become accustomed to.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks senior tight end and linebacker Logan Kind runs over tacklers during the Braves' playoff game with Sisters Friday night, Nov. 4, at Hare Field in Hillsboro."Logan and Ashton were great all night on both sides the football," Linehan said. "Ashton did a great job being patient and letting the blockers get to work up front, and all night if we needed five yards he'd get us six. And Logan is just a difference maker out there. It could be a monsoon and he would still catch the football, and he just plays so hard on both sides of the football."

And it was a monsoon. More than two inches of rain fell over the entirety of the day and the bulk of that seemed to fall during the game.

Linehan acknowledged it's difficulty but was impressed at how his team handled the inarguably difficult conditions.

"The weather was something else," the coach said. "It really didn't let up all night, but we were more than ready for it. We prepared all week with a wet football and had a great plan in place to control the weather the best we could."

Much of that difficulty fell on first-year quarterback Christian Lyda who completed 10 of his 13 pass attempts for 162 yards and three touchdowns. Linehan didn't lack for superlatives to praise the work of his offensive line in the game and over the course of the season in helping both Crossen and Lyda do their work, but also was exceptionally pleased with his quarterback's ability to handle wet and wild conditions.

"Christian (Lyda) did a great job of facilitating the ball and taking what he was given," Linehan said. "That was not a big night for quarterback stats, but he did a great job reading the defense and making plays when we needed them."

The coach also heaped praise on freshman linebacker Owen Turner who he shouted-out after the game for volunteering to be the ball-boy for the game—a key position on this night.

"I come from a long line of ball-boys growing up as a coach's kid, and that performance was an all-timer," Linehan said.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Banks' Ashton Crossen follows his blocks during the Braves' playoff game with Sisters Friday night, Nov. 4, at Hare Field in Hillsboro.
Next, No. 4-seeded Banks hosts No. 5-seeded Santiam Christian whose only loss was a four-point defeat to No. 1-seeded Kennedy. The Eagles have outscored their opponents 303-52 in 10 games this season and Linehan knows that they will offer his team their best competition of the year—something he's excited for.

"They are a great football team," Linehan said. "They have a great running back and do a great job of getting him the football. When you get into the quarterfinals and beyond you only expect to see great football teams. It should be a great matchup."

Banks's state quarterfinal matchup with Santiam Christian is scheduled for 7 p..m Friday, Nov. 11, at Hare Field in Hillsboro.

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