Molalla opens grid season with win
Story by Lon Austin
The Molalla Indians took advantage of Madras miscues as they rolled past the White Buffalos 21-0 in the Tri-Valley Conference football opener.
"We were very excited to get to play," said Molalla head coach Sean McElhaney of the road victory. "These kids have worked really hard. We have been doing workouts whenever they'll let us, so, I'm really proud of them."
The Indians took advantage of an early White Buffalo turnover, scoring shortly after on a strike from quarterback Isaac Thomas Klementis to Jacob Watson. Cole Beyer kicked the extra point and Molalla led 7-0. Molalla scored again early in the second quarter on a three-yard run by Blake Olsen. Once again, Beyer's kick was good and with 9:14 remaining in the half, the Indians had a 14-point lead.
Madras returned the ensuing kickoff to their own 33 yard line, and on their first play from scrimmage Molalla's Logan Blackman stepped in front of a pass from Madras quarterback Reece White, intercepting the pass and returning the ball all the way to the 18-yard line. Four plays later Klementis hit Watson on a 17-yard touchdown strike. Beyer's kick was good again, and the Indians held a 21-0 lead.
On their next possession the White Buffalos moved the ball all the way to the Molalla 25 yard line. A sack of White backed the ball up to the 31 yard line, before Matt Mueller intercepted a White pass and returned the ball all the way to the Madras 20 yard line.
With time running down in the first half, Beyer attempted a 35 yard field goal, but the ball went wide left and the two teams went into the half with Molalla still leading by 21 points.
Neither team was able to score in the second half, although both teams did have opportunities.
Madras finished with four turnovers to none for the Indians. In addition, a poor snap by the White Buffalos on a punt attempt late in the ballgame gave Molalla the ball on the Madras 10-yard line. However, Molalla just took a knee, running the clock out rather than taking advantage of the opportunity to score again.
Molalla suited just 24 players for the contest. McElhaney said that one of the big reasons that the Indians currently have such a small roster is distance learning.
"We lost a whole bunch of players this year to grades," he said. "We had problems in the fall because of distance learning, just to kids in general statewide, but it really hurt us football wise. We lost almost half the team. The kids we still have out have done all the right things and they've fought through and made sure they kept their grades up."
McElhaney added that the Indians have an extremely young team with just four seniors.
We're definitely pleased to start with a win," he added. "Madras played a good game. They had more kids than we did obviously, but our kids stepped up. We played good defensively. We waited and they made mistakes and we took advantage of them. I'm just so proud of the kids."
The Indians travel east of the mountains again this coming Friday when they travel to Prineville to take on the Crook County Cowboys in a 7 p.m. contest. Like Molalla, Crook County started the season with a road victory, knocking off the defending league champion North Marion Huskies 18-7.
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