Lions execute to near perfection in 48-0 win
The St. Helens Lions put it all together on their homecoming and Senior Night.
St. Helens led 34-0 at the half and beat the Cleveland Warriors, 48-0.
"One of the funnest games I've ever played in," said Lions senior quarterback Leif Nelson.
"I think it was the best game we've ever played," said senior safety/running back Kruze Katzenmeyer.
"First time ever for me," said senior two-way back Isaiah Bettencourt, of being on the winning end of a rout.
"A Senior Night win, that's all you can ask for," said junior tight end/safety Canon Beisley.
"It was really intense with our crowd and the band and everybody being hyped up," said senior running back/linebacker Conner Koelzer.
"It was very fun," added senior running back/linebacker Shawn Le. "Kind of sad also, because it was our last game here. But it was really fun."
It was all St. Helens, especially in the first half.
And a lot of Lions got into the act, and that's including the linemen who controlled things up front on both sides of the ball.
Five players scored one touchdown: Koelzer, Nelson, Bettencourt, Katzenmeyer and Beisley.
And one Lion — Bettencourt — had two touchdowns.
Junior Kyle Parnell was 6 for 7 on point-after kicks.
Bettencourt and sophomore Ashton Smith each intercepted a pass.
Parker Miller, a senior two-way lineman, had a key fumble recovery to thwart Cleveland's opening possession of the second half.
"It's always amazing when each one of your teammates gets a little piece of the pie," Bettencourt said.
The defense played tough as a unit, holding Cleveland to 112 yards on offense — 40 carries for 95 yards, 3-for-8 passing for 17 yards.
The Warriors were especially stifled in the first half, when they got just 33 yards on the ground on 23 attempts and hit 1 of 4 passes for 6 yards. Cleveland didn't make a first down until the second quarter.
"Defense came together. We really worked together on this one," Beisley said.
"We had a lot of three-and-outs," Katzenmeyer added of the defense. "We knew they were a heavy run team, so we centered ourselves around that and around getting to the ball as fast as we could."
St. Helens took the opening kickoff and drove 67 yards in five plays. Bettencourt broke free up the middle for 43 yards to the Cleveland 1-yard line, and Koelzer punched across the goal line on the next snap for a 7-0 lead.
The Lions' next possession resulted in a five-play, 79-yard touchdown drive. Nelson took the ball himself up the middle. scoring from the 4 on a draw play out of an empty backfield to boost the home team's advantage to 14-0 just 6:44 into the game.
Nelson, who split time at QB with sophomore Jakob Robbins, said the plan for this game was all dependent on what Cleveland's defense was doing. "If they were leaving the pass open, we were going to throw it. If they were leaving the run open, we were going to run it," Nelson said.
The Lions increased their lead to 21-0 on the final play of the first quarter, with Parnell adding the PAT after a 3-yard run by Le. That drive took only three plays and needed to go just 20 yards, coming after a snap went through the hands of Cleveland's punter.
St. Helens showed the ability to get some big-yardage plays against the Warriors — the longest coming with 5:34 left in the second quarter. That was a 75-yard pass from Robbins to Le, who got in the middle of the Cleveland defense and "turned on the jets" to reach the end zone.
"I basically switch routes with the tight end on the play," Le said. "It was nice that I had lead blockers in front of me. They took the first two guys who were closest to me."
The final Lions TD of the half came on a five-play, 83-yard march. Robbins hit junior wide receiver Cody Woodruff for 18 yards to get that one started. Bettencourt then zipped for 33 yards on the ground. Robbins came back with a 29-yard pass play, hitting Beisley in the flat. And Bettencourt got the score on a 3-yard blast.
That drive took just 31 seconds, and came after Smith picked off a Cleveland pass at the St. Helens 2 and returned the ball to the 17.
The speed and efficiency of the two minute-drill that followed was one of the highlights of the night.
"Everybody was really going crazy," Koelzer said.
The third quarter was scoreless, but St. Helens added touchdowns in the fourth quarter on Koelzer's 1-yard run and then Nelson's 15-yard pass to Beisley, who swooped diagonally over the middle from his tight end spot and was open all the way.
"They (the Warriors) were biting on run plays quite a bit," Beisley said, "so we were able to convert some passes. I'd missed a touchdown catch early, so that was my chance for revenge. Had to make the most of it."
St. Helens, which had lost at Scappoose 49-25 the week before, improved to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in the new Class 5A Special District 1 for football.
"Especially since our loss against Scappoose, everybody was ready to play hard and everybody was ready to go," Bettencourt said.
Le and Nelson both agreed that it was an excellent night of execution by the Lions.
"We worked on the 'SIWs,' the self-inflicted wounds, and tried to limit those as best we could this whole week," Bettencourt said.
"We had one of the best weeks of practice we've ever had, and everyone came out focused tonight," Katzenmeyer said. "Everyone was doing their job, and everybody played with a lot of energy."
It rained through the entire game, but that didn't damper the Lions or their spirit one bit.
"It's Oregon," Le said.
"Love the rain," Nelson said.
Especially when you can play that well in it.
"We really came together as a team," Nelson said.