Crimson Tide lean on their power running game to upset 11th-ranked West Salem in the playoffs

SALEM — A day after Stanford knocked off the Oregon football team in California by stuffing the ball up the middle and controlling the clock, Glencoe’s gridiron squad attacked West Salem in a similar fashion in a Class 6A first round state playoff contest last Friday.

As it turns out, the power running game works well in Oregon high school football, HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Glencoe football coach Steve Jones gives his players a passionate postgame speech after the Crimson Tide upset 11th-ranked West Salem 49-34 in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs last Friday night.

“We saw Stanford and were like, ‘Hey, that’s what we’re running tomorrow,’” senior running back Kainoa Hanchett said.

On the legs of the backfield tandem of Hanchett and Anthony Lambert, the Crimson Tide busted through for 390 rushing yards and six touchdowns en route to a 49-34 upset of the Titans.

No. 22 Glencoe, which drew Clackamas for a second-round matchup tonight, upped its record to 6-4 on the season. Eleventh-ranked West Salem, the runner-up in the Central Valley Conference, dropped to 8-2.

“We just came out with a mindset that we’re just going to keep driving the ball down the field, slow their pace down because they like to score a lot,” explained Hanchett, who took on an impressive load with 33 carries for 196 yards and three touchdowns.

“We popped some big plays off, came out with a crazy amount of heart. All these guys played their hearts out, so I’m really proud of them.”

The team showed little hangover from its most recent game, a lackluster, turnover-filled 24-3 loss at Tualatin two weeks prior. Against the Titans, Glencoe took a 21-13 lead into the intermission and kept on trucking, using four second-half rushing scores — two each from Hanchett and Lambert — to keep their distance from the HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Glencoe sophomore Reed Seeberger drags a West Salem defender for some extra yardage during last Friday's 49-34 victory in the first round of the state playoffs.

In fact, Tide quarterback Avery Elrod threw just four times, connecting twice for 46 yards.

“We have to play to our strengths,” Glencoe coach Steve Jones said afterward. “We’ve got a great line and great running backs, and we’ve got kids that want to play. Us spreading it out doesn’t work for us.

“We get ourselves tough each week and over the summer for a reason. That’s because we’re going to have to have some ball control. We can’t play with them otherwise. And so you gotta go to your strengths, accentuate your strengths and try to hide your weaknesses.”

The Tide showed their strengths in spades during the contest. After opening up the scoring on Matt Fields’ 90-yard kickoff return, Glencoe never trailed, though West Salem hung around throughout, thanks in large part to dual-threat quarterback Cade Smith. After Fields’ long special teams play, Lambert followed up with a 38-yard rushing score to put the visitors up by two touchdowns early.

West Salem answered quickly, though, with the highly regarded Smith finding Brady Rediger from 6 yards out and then hitting paydirt on a 44-yard strike to Keegen Hlad — still in the first quarter. Only a missed point-after try kept the Tide in the lead.

The scoring slowed down from there, with Lambert adding his second touchdown of the night on a 9-yard run midway through the second quarter to account for the 21-13 halftime lead.

“I’ve had a great night. Team had a great night,” Lambert said. “We put in all this work all week.”

That work continued to pay off in the second half, when Hanchett picked up where Lambert left off, scoring third-quarter touchdowns of 10 and 5 yards to offset Smith’s 1-yard keeper for a touchdown and 3-yard pass to Hlad for another in the period.

All of that gave the Tide a 35-21 advantage heading into the final period. Lambert — who often scooted for runs outside while Hanchett typically jammed the ball up the middle — busted free for a 34-yard score with 9:02 remaining. The junior finished with 155 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries.

And after the Glencoe defense held West Salem to a three-and-out on its next possession, Hanchett put the away team up by four touchdowns when he broke through from the 1-yard line on his sixth consecutive carry of the drive with 5:21 to play.

The Titans accounted for the final points of the night when Smith found Luke Ferguson for a 29-yard strike a little over a minute later. Dylan Marsh led the Tide defense with 6½ total tackles, while Fields added 5½ tackles. Kyle Campbell and Devin Jones each had an interception.

In all, it was a masterful performance in a playoff setting for Glencoe, which won a state playoff game for the first time since the 2009 season, when the school competed in the 5A classification.

“Our kids were really upset with themselves (after) the Tualatin game,” Jones said “They didn’t play like they could, and these guys don’t want to finish. They don’t want the season to end. We’ve had way too much fun. This is an awesome, awesome family. They love each other, and as a coach, you can’t ask for anything else than that.”

Tonight, the Tide travel to Clackamas High School for a 7 p.m. game against the No. 6 Cavaliers, who have gone 8-2 this fall and finished tied for second in the Three Rivers League. Clackamas’ only losses came in consecutive weeks in October to Lake Oswego (42-18) and league champion Oregon City (35-21). The Tide and the Cavaliers have faced a common opponent in Newberg, whom the Cavaliers knocked off 29-28 back on Sept. 6.

Note: The Tide circled up after the game and held a moment of silence to recognize the loss of senior lineman Jake Henry, whose girlfriend died last week. Hanchett said the team dedicated the game to the couple.

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