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Indians struggle from the start; football season ends with quarterfinal loss

COURTESY PHOTO: JOSI WELTER - Scappoose punter Tyler Holcomb (88) finds himself cornered by Silverton's Nathan Gubbels (22) and Ethan Gubbels (56) deep in Indians territory after a snap went awry early in last week's state playoff game. Deacon Smith (21) rushes back to try to help, but the miscue leads to Silverton's first score in a 48-14 victory for the Foxes.SILVERTON — Sometimes there is the plan and then there is what happens.

What happened to the Scappoose Indians in the Nov. 15 Class 5A football quarterfinals was not what they had planned.

Silverton took an early lead and never looked back, defeating the Indians 48-14 to end their season.

The host Foxes jumped to a 15-0 lead in the first quarter and spread three more touchdowns over the second quarter for a 36-0 halftime advantage.

"I thought we'd give them a better game. I knew we'd have to do well to win or compete with them, but I thought we'd give them a better game," Scappoose coach Sean McNabb said. "They hit us in the mouth, and we never recovered."

Pretty much nothing went the way Scappoose had drawn it up after advancing through the first round with its 23-14 upset at Pendleton on Nov. 8.

Silverton, meanwhile, painted a very pretty picture, a work of art, really, as they turned some early Scappoose miscues into points and then used that leverage to dominate on both sides of the ball.

The Foxes showed off a balanced offensive attack along with a defense that was ready for what Scappoose tried to run at them.

"They run a good read-option," Silverton coach Josh Craig said of the Indians, "but our defensive coaches put us in a good position to deal with that and get the ball back."

Even when the Indians forced Silverton into third downs, the Foxes converted, always seeming to come up with a big pass connection or other answer.

"I thought we'd be able to slow them down, and I really felt we'd be able to move the ball against them," McNabb said. "But you can't make mistakes against good teams, and a good team like that can make you look bad at times."

Silverton, ranked fourth in the state, improved to 10-1 (its only loss was by seven points to No. 3 and 11-0 West Albany).

"We hadn't played a team that good all year," McNabb said of the Foxes. "It's hard to simulate in practice.

"Their receivers made great plays. Their quarterback threw the ball well. Their running back was a beast, hard to tackle. Their linemen came off the ball well. Their skill guys made plays, and ours didn't."

Silverton marched into the 5A semifinals for the fourth time in eight years. This is the ninth year in a row Silverton has been in the 5A playoffs.

The Foxes' "average daily membership" listed by the Oregon School Activities Association, is 1,156, compared to Scappoose's 693. Silverton ranked ninth-largest among the 35 schools that competed in 5A football this season (the list includes 6A schools such as Forest Grove, Wilson and Cleveland that were allowed to drop to 5A for football). Scappoose was the smallest school playing 5A football. Among 5A schools for all other sports, Scappoose is second-smallest, ahead of only Crook County, which went 4-5 as a 4A football team this season.

"They've got good-looking kids, and that's a big school. They've got a lot of kids to choose from," McNabb said.

Silverton will play No. 1 Thursday on Saturday in one semifinal. The other semi will have West Albany at No. 2 Crater.

All of last week's quarterfinal results were lopsided. Thurston beat Wilsonville 48-9. West Albany downed Ashland 41-15. Crater routed Parkrose 49-0.

"The 5A is pretty top-heavy in football," McNabb said. "The top four or five teams seem to be a lot better than everybody else."

In last week's game at Silverton, the Indians helped the Foxes get going, though. Scappoose started well enough. After taking the kickoff, the Indians ran senior running back Josh Rice and junior Deacon Smith up the middle to the tune of two first downs. But a couple of false starts and a holding penalty forced a fourth-and-25 — and then the momentum went to Silverton.

A punt snap was off target enough that it got away from senior punter Tyler Holcomb, and the Foxes tackled him at the Scappoose 17-yard line.

Two plays later, Silverton was on the scoreboard via a 14-yard run by 6-1, 200-pound senior back Hayden Roth.

Midway through the first quarter, Scappoose senior cornerback Blake Morkert thwarted the Foxes with an interception, but he was ruled down at the Scappoose 1 instead of in the end zone for a touchback.

The Indians' offense failed to move beyond the 3, and Holcomb had to stand in the back of the end zone for the next punt snap. It came at his feet, and slipped through his hands for a safety. That gave Silverton a 9-0 lead, and the Foxes got the ball back, then went 43 yards in seven plays. Roth ran 2 yards for the TD, after sophomore QB Jordan McCarty had converted a pair of third-and-6's with completions for 25 and 18 yards.

In the second quarter, pass plays of 15 and 40 yards set up a 16-yard designated run by McCarty for a 22-0 lead.

The Foxes' ability to move the ball so well through the air was something the Indians didn't see coming.

"We came prepared for the run, and they caught us with the pass and made some big plays," senior safety/QB Jakobi Kessi said. "They're good players, they've got some good coaches, and they just made some good plays."

Silverton coach Craig said the Foxes needed to throw the ball to have success against the Scappoose defense.

"Scappoose was doing a great job against our run, one of the best jobs anyone has done stopping us on the ground," Craig said.

McCarty ran 16 yards for another score later in the second quarter, and Roth ripped through a bunch of would-be tacklers to cap a 71-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown run that boosted Silverton's lead to 36-0.

Two touchdowns in the third quarter stretched the lead to 48-0 and brought out a running clock.

Scappoose broke through in the fourth quarter, and Kessi scored both the Indians' touchdowns. He ran 11 yards for one touchdown, then scooped up a fumble and sprinted 70 yards with 1:45 remaining.

"Those touchdowns say a lot about him — he's going to fight to the end," McNabb said. "To see him get those final two touchdowns made me feel really good."

Senior linebacker Slater Smiens led the defense and made two notable special-teams plays, blocking a couple of extra-point kicks — which he said he did in part out of frustration with how the game was unfolding.

"I couldn't take it anymore," Smiens said of the blocked kicks. "I decided to try something different and circled around the gaps and got a free release (to the kicker)."

Overall, the Indians were disappointed that they weren't able to produce at their highest level against the Foxes.

"We tried, but we had a lot of breakdowns defensively and didn't communicate enough," Smiens said. "I think we underestimated them. I watched them on film a lot and was thinking, 'They can't be that good. They haven't gone through enough torment and trials to be that good.' So I went into the game with too much of a high head, and it cost us.

"It was fun to play with the boys one last time, though. We did all we could."

Kessi noted that "usually we're really good when we face adversity, but we came out really flat and just didn't play our game."

While he hopes to play college football somewhere, the future is uncertain.

"I don't know if I'm going to play football again, so this one really hurt," Kessi said. "I love these guys and appreciate every single one of them for what they do, and the coaching staff means a lot to me, they've never let me down and I've been blessed to be around them and learn from them."

Scappoose, ranked 13th in 5A, finished the year with a 7-4 record.

"Scappoose is tough — they've got a lot of size and physicality on both sides of the ball," Silverton coach Craig said. "Our guys came out from the start and played an aggressive, physical and clean game."

The Indians, who moved up from 4A a year ago, have made the final eight in 5A football twice in two seasons.

"We knew that coming up to 5A would be a challenge, but we accepted that," Kessi said, "and we showed we can compete with just about anybody if we're on our game."

Over the past two years, Scappoose has lost to only three teams: Pendleton, Wilsonville and Silverton.

"All in all, the kids had a good year," McNabb said. "To beat a team (Pendleton) that had beaten us twice was pretty special. Of all the games in the history of Scappoose, that has to go down as one of the best ones ever. That's a game people will be talking about for a long time.

"These kids have been a great group and a ton of fun to coach. It's a special group. We're going to miss them."

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