Sandy senior quarterback Tyler King and senior running back Nolan Turin found each other once in the first quarter and again in the fourth Friday, Oct. 27, to help Sandy, in search of its first state championship in its final Class 5A season before it returns to the Class 6A Mt. Hood Conference in 2018, surge through its Northwest Oregon Conference rivalry finale with St. Helens.
King and Turin's 21- and seven-yard touchdown passes came as the Pioneers, winners of five games head-to-head since they came down to the Northwest Oregon eight years ago, never trailed in a 42-18 road win at Doc Ackerson Stadium.
"I really liked how we executed our plays," said King, who completed 10 of 17 passes for 108 yards where Lions Chase Parkhurst and Leif Nelson combined to go seven-of-17 and 107 yards. "As the leader of the offense, I felt like we could run anything out of our play book and be successful, although we did have plenty of penalties and we would like to clean that up all around. It was a great way to finish the regular season, and I believe we're going into the playoffs with a massive amount of confidences."
St. Helens (1-8 overall, 1-6 Northwest Oregon), with its Senior Night loss, finished its toughest season since its 1-8, 0-7 run in 2012.
The seventh-ranked Pioneers (7-2, 6-1), ever better after going winless in 2015 and 6-3, 6-1 in the regular season last year, are scheduled to begin their second state venture in a row -- and their seventh since joining Class 5A in 2010 -- at home against No. 10 Lebanon (6-3, 3-3) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Sandy jumped offside with Parkhurst's hard counts in the first quarter, and his 4th-and-4 pass left to Shawn Lee gave the Lions new life at the Pioneer 9-yard line.
Connor Koelzer's touchdown up the middle sprung St. Helens with 49.5 seconds left on the very next play, but Sandy blocked Caleb Carter's extra-point kick and led 7-6.
Pioneer sophomore running back Colby Carson rode backfield blocks from senior running backs Iosefa Polamalu and Grant Norman three yards into the end zone, and sophomore kicker Ryan Escareno's second point-after put Sandy up 14-6 into the second.
Sophomore quarterback Chet Chamberlain hurdled a Pioneer-Lion roadblock at the the St. Helens 5-yard line and bounded for six and a 21-6 advance with 7:30 to intermission, and King's eight-yard keeper pushed Sandy ahead 28-6 at 4:28.
Parkhurst's 4th-and-2 pass over the middle from the 50 fell incomplete at 1:47, but Jacob Klein stopped King with an interception at the Lions' 38 on the very next play.
Koelzer ran for a first down on 4th-and-4 at the Pioneer 40 with 6:49 in the third, but Nelson's pass fell incomplete left at the Sandy 17 at 5:18.
Sandy junior running back Kael Schilperoort scored next from three yards out for a 35-6 jump with 2:11 in the third, and King lasered Turin for seven yards and a 42-6 lead 10 seconds into the fourth.
Isaiah Bettencourt beat Pioneer junior defensive back Cade Stirnaman over the right pylon with a 25-yard pass from Parkhurst at 10:19 to play, but the two-point pass was not to be.
Tanner McTeigue recovered King's keeper fumble at the St. Helens 38 with 8:30 left, but Parkhurst could not find a receiver as he rolled left on 4th-and-8 at the Sandy 28 with 3:48.
Parkhurst did, however, find Cody Leanna for an eight-yard score with 16 seconds left, and the Lions student section chanted, "Way to go, Cody, way to go," before the ensuing two-point run fell short of the goal line.
"Thanks for throwing it to me, Chase," said Leanna, a senior running back, which amused his teammates after the game. "It's been great being a senior with you guys."
The Pioneers' edge came on third downs, where their offense came up four-of-seven and stayed on the field where St. Helens converted five of 13, and Carson rushed for 127 yards.
Turin, also a defensive back, led Sandy with seven tackles.
The Lions are set to graduate Parkhurst, Leanna, Carter, Dylan Kessinger, Hayden Laughlin, Zane Weis, Robert Landreth, Dylan Lobby, Dru Page, Garrett Waggoner and Ethan Wallace in the spring.
"Even though I only spent half my time here, this is the best team I've ever been on," said Page, an offensive lineman and linebacker.
SANDY 42, ST. HELENS 18
Friday, Oct. 27, at Doc Ackerson Stadium
S 14 14 7 7-- 42
SH 6 0 0 12 -- 18
S Nolan Turin 21-yard pass from Tyler King (Ryan Escareno PAT), 9:31
SH Connor Koelzer 9-yard run (Caleb Carter PAT blocked), :49.5
S Colby Carson 3-yard run (Escareno PAT), :00
S Chet Chamberlain 10-yard run (Escareno PAT), 7:30
S King 8-yard run (Escareno PAT), 4:28
S Kael Schilperoort 3-yard run (Escareno PAT), 2:11
S Turin 7-yard pass from King (Escareno PAT), 11:50
SH Isaiah Bettencourt 25-yard pass from Chase Parkhurst (2-point pass incomplete), 10:19
SH Cody Leanna 8-yard pass from Parkhurst (2-point run failed), :16