Cascade Christian is coming off its first undefeated regular season in 10 years
It was supposed to be another nail-biting battle to the finish on Friday night when Cascade Christian and South Umpqua faced off at Lithia & Driveway Fields.
The Challengers, however, either didn’t get that memo or ignored it completely.
Playing for the Far West League title against fellow undefeated Lancers, the Challengers overcame an early deficit with consistent play on both sides of the ball to cruise to an impressive 35-6 victory.
The two teams had entered the game tied for No. 2 in the Class 3A state rankings, but it was Cascade Christian that grabbed home field advantage for the playoffs by posting its first undefeated regular season in 10 years. The Challengers are 9-0 after playing an FWL-only schedule this season.
“It’s a great group of guys and they’ve been working hard to make it last year,” Challengers head coach Jon Gettman said. “They know how close they were and that provides extra motivation.”
He also powered Cascade to a heartbreaking 28-26 loss a year ago against South Umpqua.
“As a competitor, you remember the turnovers,” said Gettman, who has suffered just 28 in his 13th season at the helm. “They got hurt and showed motivation to drive in front of you.”
South Umpqua (8-1, 8-1 FWL) showed it had plenty of drive early on, taking the first down and marching down before capping the scoring with an 8-yard pass from Jace Johnson to Isaac Real. A two-point conversion pass was deflected to keep it 6-0.
“That was a big push that they did, very methodical,” Gettman said. “They ran the ball and passed the ball really efficiently and got us out of position a few times.”
Little did anyone know that would be the Lancers’ only goal of the night.
Cascade Christian responded immediately when senior quarterback Keith Reed moved to his right under pressure, but never looked down to find junior wide receiver Peyton Maurer downfield for a 50-yard score.
“Keith’s pass to Peyton to start it, that really got our momentum back,” Gettman said, “and we were able to keep it going after that.”
After a defensive stop, the Challengers built a 14-6 cushion when Kameron Rague found an open hole created by their offensive line and burst 24 yards for a second-quarter touchdown with 1:35 left of rest
Gettman said he and his coaching staff would have been happy to take that one-goal lead into halftime, but sophomore cornerback Drew Hall had other plans, getting in front of a pass from Johnson on the midfield and return it to the Lancers. 28 yard line.
Soon after, Reed made a quick layup pass to senior Brody Sample, who ducked behind a block and then headed down the sideline for a TD with 16 seconds left in the second quarter to make it 21 -6.
“We had that pick right before halftime and it was really a puzzle,” Gettman said.
Hall was a late addition to the Cascade Christian team after transferring from South Medford, but has made an immediate impact. A standout football player in his youth football days, Hall had focused more on basketball in recent years before deciding to get back into the pads.
“He makes choices,” Gettman said of Hall. “We brought him out later in the season and he’s really been a game-changer for us. He’s a smart, smart kid. Even the pick he had tonight, he had actually gotten off his guy, he saw what was going on and made the play. You can coach them, but when it comes down to it, you have athletes and they make plays and that’s what he did for us.”
The slide continued in the second half, with Tyler Almasy, who moved from safety to left tackle, making an interception after a Johnson pass was tipped near the line of scrimmage and floated to the sideline Once again, the Challengers capitalized on the turnover with a 1-yard TD run by Cane to make it 28-6.
On the next series, senior Liam Benade lived every defensive lineman’s dream when he made a leaping interception on an anticipated screen pass by Johnson and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown.
“It was a great individual play,” said the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Gettman. “He read the screen and the coach always yells at him, ‘If it’s easy, it’s bad,’ and he stopped and took a step back. I thought he was going to just knock it down, but he caught it and it was great to see him score. It’s amazing to see a defensive player get into the end zone.”
He was the cherry on top of a defensive effort that limited Johnson, one of the top 3A quarterbacks in the state, to 14-of-32 passing for 91 yards. South Umpqua managed just 161 yards of total offense.
“I think that was the biggest key, just being able to keep him in the pocket,” Gettman said. “That’s always dangerous with how well he can throw the ball, but those big plays are when he’s able to break the pocket and create. Coach (Mike) Schann did an excellent job all week preparing them and the kids executed the game plan and made the plays they needed to make.”
Reed completed 12 of 17 passes for 140 yards with one interception, while Rague added 59 yards rushing on 10 carries. Maurer had three catches for 78 yards and Sample added six for 48 yards.
Defensively, Triston Wallace had seven tackles and Hall added six to lead the Challengers.
SU – Real 8 pass from Johnson (pass failed)
CC: Maurer 50 pass from Reed (Hoffman kick)
CC – Rague 24 run (Hoffman kick)
CC: Show 28 Reed pass (Hoffman kick)
CC – Reed 1 run (Hoffman kick)
CC — Benade 38 interception return (Hoffman kick)
Got a story idea? Contact sports editor Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Kris_Henry
Cascade Christian’s Kameron Rague (5) finds an opening for the Challengers’ second touchdown of the game Friday against South Umpqua. Photo by Denise Baratta.
Cascade Christian’s Peyton Maurer (13) makes a long pass for the Challengers’ first touchdown in Friday night’s game against South Umpqua. Photo by Denise Baratta.
Cascade Christian’s Drew Hall (11) runs past South Umpqua’s tacklers during Friday night’s game. Photo by Denise Baratta.
Cascade Christian quarterback Keith Reed prepares to throw a long touchdown pass to Peyton Maurer in the first quarter against South Umpqua at noon Friday. Photo by Denise Baratta.
Cascade Christian’s Brody Sample (10) escapes a trio of South Umpqua defenders for a third touchdown late in the second quarter Friday. Photo by Denise Baratta.
Cascade Christian’s Kristofer Fralich and South Umpqua’s Isaac Simpson battle for a pass in the end zone Friday night. Photo by Denise Baratta.
Cascade Christian’s Cole Shields (2) tackles South Umpqua’s Jacob Logan during Friday night’s game. Photo by Denise Baratta.
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