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Vikings advance to first semifinal in nearly 40 years behind second straight playoff shutout.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Colton seniors Jeb Ethington (20), Nolan Earls (44), Shade Starr (14) and Lance Gunter (5) celebrate with their Viking teammates following the team's 12-0 victory over the Gold Beach Panthers to advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 1984.Defense reigned supreme in a contest between two of the top-scoring 2A teams in the state on Saturday.

Hosting the Gold Beach Panthers at Viking Stadium, the Colton football team put on a defensive clinic to win 12-0, holding their second straight playoff opponent scoreless while advancing to the program's first state semifinal appearance since 1984.

"I think we're all in awe right now," Colton head coach Jason Stewart said. "They believe, and we're just coaching them hard, and that's it."

No. 3 Colton (10-1) and No. 6 Gold Beach (9-2) entered the contest with two of the top offenses in the state in their classification, each averaging more than 40 points per game this year. But it became clear early on that neither team was willing to budge on the defensive side of the ball. After Colton senior Rickie Hendrickson scored a six-yard touchdown on the Vikings' opening drive, the two teams played to a stalemate, trading possessions in the middle of the field for the next two quarters.

Colton eventually converted on a second touchdown drive in the fourth quarter when senior Jeb Ethington capped a 10-play drive with a 16-yard touchdown run with 9:39 left to play.

"It was stressful because six is nothing," Stewart said. "One touchdown and a two-point (conversion), and there goes your six. So us getting in the end zone again, it was very adamant that we get in there again."

Stewart praised the team's running game, which accounted for nearly all of the Vikings' 344 yards against the Panthers. The load was evenly carried by Nolan Earls (93 yards), Ethington (75), Lance Gunter (74) and Hendrickson (72), running behind an offensive line of fellow seniors. Nearly half of the team's 31-man roster is set to graduate next spring, having competed together since grade school.

"We're a band of brothers," Gunter said. "We're doing good this year, better than I ever expected. We're here to take it."

The "it" — a coveted football state championship trophy — has only ever been hoisted once at Colton High School when the Vikings and St. Mary's played to a 0-0 tie in the 1983 Class A Championship. This year's team is just the sixth in program history to advance to the semifinals, joining teams from 1956, 1967, 1969, 1983 and 1984.

"We've played since we were in third, fourth grade. We're confident in our ability to trust each other," Earls said. "The fact that we got to play at home these last games — our last home game is a playoff game into the semis — means everything."

The Vikings were 6-0 at home this season, including consecutive shutouts in the playoffs following the team's lone loss of the season at Culver. Colton is one of three teams in the state at any classification that have yet to give up a point in the playoffs, joining 6A Westview and 5A Bend.

The remainder of the playoffs moves to neutral fields. Next week's semifinal between the Vikings and No. 7 Weston-McEwen (9-2) is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Barlow High School in Gresham.

The Tigerscots were coming off a 27-21 victory at No. 2 Lowell (10-1) and were one of three teams from Special District 4 to advance to the quarterfinals. No. 4 Heppner (9-2) won 8-6 over No. 5 Regis (9-2), while No. 9 Umatilla (8-3) fell 32-14 to top-ranked Oakland (10-1).

Weston-McEwen is also the only team to beat the No. 1 Oakers this year, winning 24-16 on Sept. 9.

"I think we're going to do it next week, hopefully, and we'll just keep going," Gunter said.

2A FOOTBALL STATE QUARTERFINALS

Nov. 12, 2022, at Colton High School

COLTON — 6 0 0 6 — 12

G. BEACH — 0 0 0 0 — 0

SCORING

First Quarter

Colton (5:35) — Hendrickson 6-yard touchdown run. PAT no good.

Fourth Quarter

Colton (9:39) — Ethington 16-yard run. PAT no good.

STATISTICS

COLTON

Passing

Hendrickson — 1-of-1/25, Holliday — 1-of-5/5

Running

Earls — 16/93, Ethington — 14/75/TD, Gunter — 15/74, Hendrickson — 14/72/TD, Starr - 3/0, Holliday — 2/-8

Receiving

Bjornstedt — 1/25, Ethington — 1/5

Defense

Stephens — Fumble Recovery, Naylor — Fumble Recovery, Moore — Sack

GOLD BEACH

Passing

J. Westerman — 3-of-7/50, Higgins — 3-of-7/41, Miller — 0-of-1

Running

Willstead — 6/15, Flynn — 5/10, Miller — 2/8, J. Westerman — 8/-4, Higgins 1/-6

Receiving

Wright — 3/57, Sprinkle — 2/21, Gray — 1/13

Defense

A. Westerman — 2 fumble recoveries


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