Estacada football is state championship bound
With a roar from the crowd, hugs and cheers on the sidelines, and a coach drenched by a celebratory "Gatorade dunk," Estacada football accomplished a feat nearly seven decades in the making.
The Rangers are headed to the state championship game for the first time since 1953 to vie for the program's first-ever state trophy.
"It feels amazing, we have been working on this forever," said Rangers senior Dominic Nacoste. "We are ready to go take it.
"There is no better way to end our high school careers than playing for a state championship," he added with a beaming grin.
Now Estacada will face off against Tillamook this Saturday for the state championship.
It wasn't easy going for No. 5 Estacada in the semis, who had to battle for a 14-7 victory over an upset-minded No. 8 Scappoose Saturday, Nov. 19, at Hillsboro Stadium. But despite some uncharacteristic turnovers and penalties, the Rangers buckled down when it mattered most.
"That is the heart of a champion, roughrider stuff," said Estacada Coach Andy Mott. "When we needed a drive to score, we did.
"Champion teams don't go down easy," he added.
A pair of seniors scored for Estacada. First Waylon Riedel punched in a one-yard carry for the opening touchdown of the contest, and then quarterback Cory James scampered in from four yards out for the go-ahead score.
"I am happy to be here with such a great group of guys," said Riedel, who was named by the OSAA as Estacada's player of the game.
Scappoose didn't go down easy, blanking out any memories of a week two 48-19 blowout between the two sides.
"We grew as a team all season, and we came this far," said Scappoose senior defensive back Trey Dieringer. "Everyone was locked in and ready to play tonight, just came up short.
"We wanted to show we belonged on this field," he added.
Indians senior runner D'Angelo Macedo-Becker was brilliant in the first half. The lone score for the Indians came on a 6 play, 66-yard drive, of which Macedo-Becker notched 54 yards on the ground punctuated by a one-cut, 13-yard touchdown.
"We adjusted," Nacoste said of a defense that slowed Macedo-Becker in the second half. "Just made the right plays and kept going."
Scappoose sophomore quarterback Max Nowlin moved the ball well once the running game was bottled, finding senior receiver Colby Campbell for big first-down conversions. And Dieringer had two fumble recoveries, bookending halftime, that had the Indians poised for another upset.
"We were shooting ourselves in the foot — turning it over, making silly mistakes, penalties," Riedel said. "But (coach) told us we needed to have the heart of a champion and come out and win. Even when you are down, things not going your way, you have to fight and claw your way back in."
The Rangers responded to their coaches pleas.
The James score came after he had a 50-yard run that sparked what had been a foundering showing by the offense. The defensive backs tipped multiple passes, and senior Aron Meraz hauled in a spectacular one-handed interception in the third quarter. And alongside Riedel, both seniors James Durand and Tucker Jackson were stout running the ball.
"We gave everything we had," Nacoste said. "We love our crowd, we love our community, it means a lot to play in front of them."
Both teams had to battle to make it into the semifinals. Scappoose bested undefeated No. 1 Mazama, the presumptive favorites, 28-27 in an overtime thriller, while Estacada survived No. 4 Henley 17-16 thanks to heroics from its special teams.
And while the Indians settle for a strong end to the season, Estacada has one more week of football together.
The Rangers will play No. 6 Tillamook at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, back at Hillsboro Stadium for the state championship.
"We got one more thing to do," Mott said.
For more photos, visit bit.ly/3tL8S0Y
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.