Sandy football to 'keep fighting' after tough home opener loss
In the wake of a difficult home opener where nothing went to plan, Sandy football isn't pointing fingers. Instead, the Pioneers are looking inward, moving forward and striving for that first win of the 2022 season.
"I told them I love them and we are all together in our disappointment," said Coach Josh Dill. "We can't disband or blame others."
The Pioneers never found their footing on a windy Saturday morning, Sept. 10, as visiting Tigard ran rampant across the field in what quickly devolved into a blowout. The Tigers (2-0) beat Sandy (0-2) 45-0.
"That is a really great football team, but I know we are, too," Dill said. "We just have to show that with how we play."
From the opening whistle Sandy found itself on the backfoot. The Pioneers had to punt on the first seven possessions of the game — the entire first half — giving the Tigers great field position as any kick into the wind didn't travel far. The Pioneers couldn't find running lanes for senior bruiser Garrett Willenberg up the middle, and junior quarterback Billy Lucas and senior tight end Leithan Thompson seemed to be on different pages in the passing game.
"We pride ourselves on being physical, but Tigard was more physical out on that field," Dill said. "We didn't have many turnovers, but penalties derailed us."
Meanwhile the Tigers put on an offensive clinic. Senior running back Konner Grant cut his way to three touchdowns, including a 71-yard scamper down the sideline. Senior quarterback Brady Jordan looked comfortable in the pocket, throwing touchdowns to three of his receivers and picking up key first downs whenever the Tigers needed to move the chains.
In the middle of the second quarter came the back-breaker for Sandy, as Tigard scored on back-to-back plays to balloon their lead to 35-0. First Jordan found junior receiver Roman Martin on a simple 26-yard toss and catch touchdown on third down. On the kickoff, into the wind, Tigard recovered an inadvertent onside attempt after a gust dropped it between two unprepared Sandy blockers. On the following possession Jordan again slung a touchdown pass, this time 35 yards to senior Luke Davis.
By the end of the first it was 21-0, and by halftime the score was 42-0.
There were plenty of extenuating circumstances leading up to the game. With a regional windstorm and poor air quality, Sandy had a choice after Friday's scheduled contest was delayed. The Pioneers could have traveled west to Tigard, but they didn't want to give up a home game — thus the Saturday morning kickoff.
"The wind and early start was a factor for both teams," Dill said. "They had to wake up earlier than us, they had to travel — they had more challenges than we did."
In the second half, with a running clock and such a large deficit, Sandy never really threatened toward the endzone. The defense did stand stout on a pair of Tigers possessions in the red zone that kept the score from completely spiraling out of control.
First Sandy junior defensive end Soren Dyal dove on a fumble with 8 minutes left in the game. Then on the ensuing possession, the Tigard backcourt lost yardage on third down with a muffed handoff thanks to the Pioneers' defensive pressure.
Now Sandy will look forward to week three for its first win. It won't be an easy road, as the Pioneers face reigning state champions Central Catholic Friday, Sept. 16, at Hillsboro Stadium.
"We are going to respond," Dill said. "Central Catholic is a juggernaut of epic proportions, but these kids are fighters."
"Everything is still in front of us," he added. "We need to refocus, it's only two games."
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