Eastside fall sports excel in shortened season
Until Wednesday, April 14, Estacada football wasn't sure it was going to be able to schedule a final game in spring.
After running through the competition all season, the clock was ticking on finding an opponent for a "championship game," in lieu of a traditional playoff berth.
"I told the kids if we didn't find an opponent by the end of Wednesday, we would probably call the season," coach Andy Mott said.
Finally the Rangers found an opponent — 5A Lebanon. Despite facing a larger school, and having less than 48 hours to prepare, Estacada got a chance to end the season with a final showdown. (See story, this page).
"The kids were ready and excited to play," Mott said. "Every week we rose up and got better."
That excitement to be back out on the field extended beyond Rangers football, with teams and student athletes happy to be playing despite a strange, shortened season. While they weren't used to competing in football, volleyball, soccer and cross country in the spring, everyone — especially the seniors — was glad to be back in uniform alongside teammates.
"We felt very fortunate we could compete," said Corbett volleyball coach Angela Davis. "The team overcame a lot of the changes and challenges this season."
In Estacada, the players left it all out on the field Friday, April 9, against the Lebanon Warriors, winning a 28-26 nail biter.
Things looked dire in the first quarter, with the Warriors jumping out to a 12-0 lead in a physical start with both teams hitting hard and fighting in the trenches to establish the run. The Rangers managed to score heading into the half with Lebanon leading 20-8.
"We made some mistakes and gave up some big plays in the first half," Mott said. "We felt like we had to come out and want it more — (the coaches) challenged them to go out and make it happen."
Estacada scored 12 unanswered points to tie it heading into the fourth, and a sack and blocked punt led to the Rangers' first lead of the game. The Warriors made one last push with less than three minutes on the clock, driving toward the end zone. With Lebanon poised to score, Estacada sophomore Waylon Riedel intercepted the ball to secure the win.
"It's a bummer we aren't getting a chance to run through playoffs," Mott said. "But I am happy for our seniors and team that we got to come out and play."
The season leaders for Estacada (5-1) were senior quarterback Isaiah Schaffer, 607 yards rushing, eight rushing TDs; senior Justin Lang, 30 tackles, four sacks and an interception; and junior Jake Behrman, 350 yards rushing, five TDs.
Two juniors, Devin Gotchall and Jackson Turner, also anchored the Estacada offensive and defensive lines, setting up many of the running lanes that led to the team's success.
Up in Corbett, the volleyball team (10-3) won the Tri-Valley Conference for the second year in a row — going back to the 2019 season. The Cardinals were led by a flock of seniors who brought experience and tenacity to lead the team through the season.
"It was important for everyone to have those seniors be able to compete and finish out their high school careers," Davis said.
The centerpiece was Morgan Stafford, returning conference player of the year. The senior setter notched 33 aces, and was vital in moving the ball and playing great defense.
"Morgan has a scrappiness and ability to keep things going," Davis said.
The other senior stars were Mimi Tesulov, a 2019 first-team all-conference player, and Emma Dillard and Michelle Emery, who split time at libero. Junior Grace Merrill and Sophomore Grace Davis were also key contributors.
"The girls feel fortunate to have been able to spend this spring together," Davis said. "This team is about being good to one another and ensuring everyone succeeds."
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