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Offense, defense, special teams all come together in 49-7 rivalry game triumph

ST. HELENS — Scappoose took out some frustrations Friday night that were left over from the previous week on rival St. Helens.

The Indians bounced back from a road loss to Pendleton with a solid game in all phases, and they topped the Lions 49-7.

"It feels good to win," Scappoose coach Sean McNabb said. "We talked about how we felt last week versus how we feel today. Obviously, today outweighs last week.

"It was an opportunity for us to get back at it. You learn a lot from getting down and getting beat. I thought today we played well. We were explosive, and we had some fun."

Scappoose improved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the Class 5A Special District West Division.

The Indians will visit Wilsonville next Thursday with first place on the line. The Wildcats also are 4-1, 3-0 after their 47-6 victory Friday at Forest Grove.

"We're pretty excited to play Wilsonville," Scappoose senior quarterback Jakobi Kessi said. "I like the style they play, I like the style we play. It's going to be a really good game."

St. Helens had its win streak snapped at two and dropped to 2-3 for the year and 1-2 in division play. The Lions will be at Cleveland next Thursday.

Scappoose scored the game's final 42 points, making some big plays on offense, defense and special teams and taking advantage of some St. Helens penalties and lapses.

Kessi threw two touchdown passes and ran for two TDs. He scored on runs of 1 yard late in the first quarter and 10 yards early in the second quarter as the Indians broke a 7-7 tie and went ahead 21-7.

"Crosstown rival, so we were really excited all week to play them, especially bouncing back from a loss," Kessi said. "Coach McNabb said it the best, that he feels sorry for any team that has to deal with us after a loss, because, man, we get after it. We buckle down and we're lazer, no one is going to break our focus.

"Now we've got 24 hours, and then we're going to focus on Wilsonville."

Then sophomore QB Luke McNabb got his turn at the controls of the Scappoose offense and hit a fourth-and-16 pass to junior wide receiver Logan Johnson that helped set up junior Deacon Smith's 13-yard touchdown run for a 28-7 lead.

The backbreaker for the Lions came with 8.2 seconds left in the half, though. Senior linebacker Connor Havlik jumped into the route of a quick sideline hitch pass attempt by St. Helens, made the interception and then raced 40 yards to the end zone, giving Scappoose a 35-7 advantage at the break.

"That's a huge momentum boost," Sean McNabb said. "He'll remember that forever, that's for sure."

Havlik said the Scappoose defense was expecting a hitch pass instead of something over the top with St. Helens lining up in an empty backfield.

"So I had to break down really tight on them and get really close," Havlik said. "They just threw it right to me, actually, and I caught it and went for it. I caught it with my chest — I'm not a receiver by any means — but I made the catch and took off."

The only Lion that Havlik saw in his way was the quarterback, but he got a final block from senior Thomas Greiner to clear a path for the final few yards.

"I've played defense for my whole, and that was my first touchdown," Havlik said.

Scappoose added one touchdown in each of the final two quarters. Colin Stoddard, a sophomore wideout, caught a 6-yard Kessi pass to make the score 42-7.

And, five seconds into the fourth quarter, shortly after Johnson made a stupendous diving catch of a McNabb throw for 42 yards on fourth-and-20, senior Andrew Padilla sliced two yards for another touchdown.

The night's opening kickoff was returned 31 yards by Scappoose senior Drake Kramer, and the Indians scored two plays later, with Kessi slinging a swing pass to Kramer that went for 22 yards.

But St. Helens responded on its first possession. The Lions executed their running game well and marched 68 yards in 12 plays to tie the score at 7-7. A 26-yard run by senior Jeremy O'Meara was the long gain in the drive, and the touchdown went to senior Kyle Parnell, who caught a pass in the flat from junior QB Jakob Robbins and darted into the end zone.

Kessi said St. Helens scoring right off the ball was "a wake-up call" for the Indians' defense.

"I think we came out a little cocky and a little arrogant, and they hit us in the mouth," Kessi said. "But coach (Joe) Nowlin does a great job game-planning as our defensive coordinator, and we've got studs up front on the D-line and one of the best linebackers in 5A in Slater Smiens, who's just a workhorse."

Scappoose went ahead for good the next time it had the ball, however. The Indians faced second-and-18 at their 33-yard line, but got all the way to the St. Helens 1 in one play — a 66-yard bomb from Kessi to senior wide receiver Ben Anicker.

From there, Kessi banged across the goal line for the first of his two rushing TDs, and the Indians were on their way.

"We started out pretty good," Parnell said, "but I just don't think we played four quarters of football. I think we kind of let up. We started to come back in the end; defense started to come back up.

"They had some really good plays, they're a tough football team. They had some really big passes and some lucky plays, but they're a great football team. I think we can compete. If our coach had asked us to play another quarter, we would have been right up on the line and ready to go.

"I feel like we haven't figured out who we really are. We're still on the rise, going uphill, learning and developing."

St. Helens offensive lineman Caden Willaby, a senior, also liked the way his team started.

"But mental mistakes are what's keeping us from being a really good football team from being just a good football," he said. "If we do that, I think a lot of good things will come.

"They're a really good football team, but I definitely think we could have stayed with them longer if we would have lowered the mental errors."

St. Helens senior receiver/linebacker Cody Woodruff agreed that "simple mistakes are what cost us, but we're going to go back and watch the film and see what we did and hopefully improve."

Another big play for Scappoose was a squib kickoff in the second quarter that the Lions failed to handle. It gave the Indians the ball at the St. Helens 18. They didn't score, as Kessi fumbled at the 1 and junior Adam Stockwell recovered for the Lions, but it set up good field position for Scappoose after its defense forced an immediate three-and-out. And the Indians used that field position to go 50 yards in eight plays and go up 28-7.

"All around, everything we did was better than it was last week," Coach McNabb said. "That's our goal — to get a little better all the time.

"We had some guys step up and make plays with some starters out (because of injury)."

"It's big for us in Scappoose," Smiens said of winning the Columbia County showdown. "After that smacking last week, we had to put some pieces back together on offense and some pieces on defense, and I think we made it all look good.

"We start out slow sometimes, we've got to pick that up and get going. But we have such a big O-line, we just wear teams down. And the big pick-six by Connor kind of took the wind out of their sails.

"But the real test is going to be against Wilsonville and moving forward."

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