It looked as if Knappa might have missed its golden chance at a 2A football title last year.
After falling in the semifinals 47-42 to eventual champion Monroe, the Loggers graduated six all-state players, their starting quarterback and four offensive linemen from a team that went 10-1.
But not only has Knappa not skipped a beat this season, if anything, the Loggers have cranked up the pace. They have opened the season 5-0 and are averaging 56.0 points per game, 10 points higher than last year and the most for any 11-man team in the state.
“This group was a big-time unknown,” coach Aaron Barendse said. “I’ll be honest, it surprised me how fast they took over the leadership roles and guys fell into place. They were champing at the bit for their turn.”
Knappa rolled 62-30 at Vernonia on Friday as junior quarterback Eli Takalo passed for 269 yards and six touchdowns and junior Kanai Phillip caught six passes for 177 yards and three scores.
Takalo, the backup to Kaleb Miller last year, has blossomed in the starting role. He has thrown for 1,039 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 534 yards and 14 scores in directing an offense that is averaging 491 yards per game.
Takalo is no stranger to the spotlight. He has been the winning pitcher in the last two state baseball finals for the Loggers.
“So we knew he had some ice in his veins,” Barendse said. “He’s a kid that the moment just doesn’t get to him. We knew he had some skill and could throw the ball, but more than anything, surprisingly, he can run the football. He’s a very talented runner. He’s got great vision.
“Most important is his leadership. He really stepped up.”
Phillip has 21 catches for 528 yards and eight touchdowns and junior Luke Goozee has rushed for 676 yards and six touchdowns. It’s all made possible by a rebuilt line that features senior Dominic Rizzo, juniors Jaxson Goodman, Andrew Pederson and Ryson Patterson and sophomore Isaac Goozee. Goodman, the holdover starter, has anchored the offensive and defensive lines.
It appears that the championship window remains open for Knappa, which won its only state title in 2008. In a school with about 70 boys, the Loggers had a turnout this season of 35, the highest in Barendse’s nine seasons in the program.
“Kids are begging to come out for football,” Barendse said. “It’s pretty special what’s going on in the school.”
His father was a punter at Portland State, but Beaverton’s Carson Budke is looking like a natural at quarterback.
The junior has been lighting it up for the Beavers (3-2) of late, throwing for 666 yards and eight touchdowns in leading wins over Westview and West Salem in the last two weeks.
The 6-1, 200-pound Budke started two games at the end of last season and has settled into the role nicely this year, completing 58.2 percent of his passes for 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns with six interceptions.
“The season has been a real maturation process,” Beavers coach Bob Boyer said. “Each game he’s gotten better and sharper. If he keeps developing like that, good things can happen down the road. There are still aspects of the game he needs to improve, but he slings the ball around pretty well.”
His father, Chris Budke, a longtime high school assistant, is Beaverton’s quarterbacks coach. Chris Budke has teamed with Beavers offensive coordinator Jimmy Joyce to tutor Carson.
“It’s just been really good for Carson to have those two competent guys helping him and getting him going,” Boyer said. “Obviously, it’s paying off for our offense right now.”
Behind Budke, Beaverton has scored 81 points in its last two games and is averaging 31.8 points per game.
“He’s got four guys right now he can throw to,” Boyer said. “He’s a coach’s son, so he understands the game, he understands the defense, and he’s got a rocket arm.”
Budke's top target is 6-3 senior Ethan Wilborn, who has 30 catches for 584 yards and seven touchdowns.
A year ago, Grants Pass coach John Musser toyed with the idea of going with a sophomore at quarterback in Chase Coyle.
Ultimately, he wasn’t comfortable with the strong-armed Coyle being careful enough with the ball, so he stuck with the incumbent, junior Blain Hobbs, a 5-8, 140-pound spread-option speedster.
This year, though, Coyle couldn’t be denied the starting spot, and the Cavemen are reaping the benefits. Through five games, the 6-2, 204-pound junior has completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 1,544 yards and 16 touchdowns.
“He’s a good one,” Musser said. “I’ve been at GP for 22 years, and he’s the best pure quarterback we’ve had in my time here, for sure.’
Since an opening loss to Oregon City, the Cavemen (4-1) have won four in a row. The Coyle-led offense, averaging 44.0 points per game, has been enough to overcome a defense that is giving up 41.2.
Grants Pass won another shootout Friday, going on the road to beat Roseburg 44-39 in the 6A Special District 7 opener for both teams. Coyle passed for 372 yards and five touchdowns.
“He has a cannon for an arm, but he’s also a big-time student of the game,” Musser said. “His yardage isn’t coming from one favorite receiver.”
Against Roseburg, the Cavemen had three receivers surpass 100 yards in seniors Korbin Lopez, Randy Clark and Hobbs, who has moved to slot this season.
Musser likes the way his offense has responded in clutch moments, but he knows the defense must come around for Grants Pass to be a serious player in 6A.
The defense was hit hard by losing three starters to season-ending injuries in the first quarter of the opener – defensive back Cody Amaral (broken ankle),, linebacker Joe Johnson (ACL) and defensive end Aiden Kendall (ACL, meniscus) – and has yet to find its footing.
“To play with the big boys, we’re going to have to find some defensive consistency,” Musser said. “Teams have gotten back in games against us pretty quickly.”
'Hootenanny' turning point
Rainier went away from its spread offense this season after graduating its top receivers from last year’s 3A semifinal team.
But with their power running offense stuck in neutral Friday against No. 6 Clatskanie in the Highway 30 Hootenanny rivalry, the top-ranked Columbians (5-0) shook things up by taking to the air.
As a result, Rainier turned a 14-12 deficit into a 36-14 lead in the third quarter and coasted to a 36-20 win in a pivotal game in the loaded Special District 1 West.
“We just tried to get a little rhythm going, get the ball distributed, and it worked pretty good,” Columbians coach Mike King said. “Primarily we’re a power running team, but sometimes we mix things up.
“We played pretty much the worst first half we have all year. We came out in the third and I challenged some of the guys, and they responded.”
Once again it was senior quarterback Joey Tripp leading the way for Rainier against Clatskanie (3-2). He passed for 144 yards and three touchdowns, ran for 155 yards and two scores and had a team-leading 14 tackles at linebacker. One of seven football-playing brothers, he’s a gamer.
“It comes down to Joey Tripp,” King said. “He runs the show out there. He’s pretty seasoned. He’s played a lot of football. He’s definitely an all-around player.”
For the season, Tripp has passed for 465 yards and eight touchdowns – four to freshman brother Kenney Tripp -- and rushed for 744 yards and 11 scores. He leads the defense with 42 tackles.
Rainier has received a boost this season from David Katon, a junior running back and receiver who did not play in 2017. Against Clatskanie, he had 177 total yards and scored two touchdowns.
The Columbians had allowed 12 points through four games before yielding 20 to Clatskanie. One of the keys has been the play of defensive end Easton Crape, a 6-5, 280-pound junior who has drawn interest from Oregon State.
“Teams tend to either run away from him or double him,” King said.
Rainier plays No. 10 Dayton (2-3) next before a showdown with second-ranked Amity (5-0) at home Oct. 12.
Waiting for the smoke from wildfires to clear has become a season-long process for football teams in southern Oregon.
The poor air quality forced many of them to practice indoors in August and wreaked havoc with game schedules in the first two weeks, leading many schools to change sites and dates.
Just when it seemed that things had settled down, the smoke became a factor again last week. The air quality was bad enough Friday to make schools switch five games to Saturday.
North Medford lost to No. 3 Sheldon 35-6 in the first Saturday afternoon game at Spiegelberg Stadium in 25 years, dating to the Black Tornado’s 28-3 quarterfinal win over David Douglas in 1993.
Other games moved to Saturday were Ashland-Eagle Point, South Eugene-Crater, Klamath Union-Phoenix and Douglas-St. Mary’s.
Week 5 highlights from across the state:
Richard Kennewell had two touchdown catches to help Clackamas get past Lincoln 35-21. … Jackson Laurent threw for 306 yards and four touchdown, two to Casey Filkins, in Lake Oswego’s 45-13 win over Liberty. … Tigard dispatched Sprague 58-13 as Malcolm Stockdale ran for four touchdowns. … Brian McClanathan anchored a stout defense and Dawson Jolley rushed for his second short touchdown of the night in the second overtime as West Linn escaped host Sherwood’s upset bid, 26-20. … Ted Atkinson rushed for 197 yards on 30 carries in Jesuit’s 42-16 win over Central Catholic. … Terrence Butler ran for two touchdowns and Austin Boster returned a punt 66 yards for a score in South Medford’s 35-7 win over McNary. … Lakeridge turned back Oregon City 44-27 as Charlie Maynes passed for 286 yards and two touchdowns and Jalen John ran for 148 yards and three scores on 25 carries. The Pacers also got a big game from Andre Martinez, who had three catches for 93 yards and one touchdown and returned an interception 44 yards for a score. … Sunset’s Callum Craig threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 52 yards and one score in a 42-17 win over Sandy. Kadin Williams ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns for Sunset. … Sheldon converted two special teams mistakes into touchdowns and Michael Johnson Jr. threw two scoring passes to win at North Medford 35-6. Eli Spence ran for 129 yards for the Black Tornado, giving him 1,167 for the season. ... Reynolds beat Newberg 28-14 behind a big game from Miles Wilson, who ran for two touchdowns, caught a scoring pass and had 12 tackles, including two sacks. ... Jonas Larson ran for 264 yards and two touchdowns and threw a 16-yard scoring pass as Mountain View overcame an early 12-0 deficit to roll past Summit 35-12. Henry Bledsoe threw two touchdown passes for the Storm.
Wilsonville’s Nathan Overholt threw four touchdown passes, giving him 24 for the season, as the Wildcats downed Forest Grove 53-6. … Churchill beat North Eugene 56-7 as Demontre Thomas II completed 13 of 19 passes for 274 yards and three touchdown and ran for a score. Marshaun Tucker had seven catches for 152 yards and Kimani Quade rushed for two touchdowns for the Lancers. … Carson Van Dyke threw three touchdown passes to Myles Westburg to lead West Albany past Lebanon 35-21. … Silverton got three touchdown runs apieces from quarterback Aaron Rieskamp and Nathan Kuenzi to beat Corvallis 40-20. … Central handled South Albany 42-14 as Kaleb Kantola passed for 254 yards and four touchdowns. … Crescent Valley overtook Dallas 22-21 with 1:22 left on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Sawyer Cleveland to Cam Sanders and a two-point run by Cleveland. … Wes Kommer rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns as Thurston gained 454 yards in defeating Redmond 35-7. Cade Crist threw three touchdown passes for the Colts, two to D.J. Stedman. … Ridgeview outscored Willamette 54-28 as Kadden Brown and Griffin Dietz combined to rush for 317 yards. Willamette’s Damein Kirkpatrick threw for 296 yards and two touchdowns and Jondre Smith had seven catches for 134 yards and one score. … Pendleton improved to 5-0 as Trent Sorey threw two touchdown passes in a 56-0 win over Milwaukie. …. Eagle Point took care of Ashland 52-17 behind Devin Bradd, who ran for 186 yards and three touchdowns, and Noah Page, who had 136 receiving yards and two scores. … Crater got a 66-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Tony Flores and a 60-yard kickoff return for a score by Dylan Kinney in beating South Eugene 49-13. ... Scappoose defeated St. Helens 49-25 in the Seven-Mile War as Jakobi Kessi completed 16 of 20 passes for 110 yards and rushed for 66 yards and three touchdowns. Connor McNabb ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns and returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score.
Alexander Teubner rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns and caught a scoring pass as Seaside amassed 496 yards – 413 on the ground -- in beating Valley Catholic 64-8. … Estacada stopped a two-point conversion inside the final minute to hand Woodburn its first loss, 14-12. The Rangers, who got 141 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Gabe Martinez, scored with 1:30 left to take a 14-6 lead. … Marist rolled up 442 yards in taking down Cottage Grove 32-22, getting 193 rushing yards from Lucas Patterson and three touchdown runs from Max Campbell. … Elmira improved to 4-1 by blitzing Junction City 50-6, getting 149 rushing yards and three touchdowns from Brady Nagel and two scoring runs from quarterback Rowdy Ramirez. The Falcons’ defense allowed only 56 yards. … Marshfield got three touchdown runs from Josiah Niblett to defeat Henley 36-21. … Tanner Richardson set a school record with a 44-yard field goal in Tillamook’s 29-13 win over Molalla. The Cheesemakers got a combined 266 yards of offense and four touchdowns from quarterback Matt Silveira and running back Chris Silveira. … A blocked extra-point attempt in the third quarter was the difference as Newport improved to 5-0 by edging Sisters 21-20. … Klamath Union rushed for 380 of its 510 yards to beat Phoenix 43-13. Austin Erickson and Izak Peterson rushed for 151 and 144 yards, respectively, for the Pelicans.
Kiegan Schaan threw for 163 yards, ran for four touchdowns and returned two interceptions for scores to lead Cascade Christian past Hidden Valley 51-7. … Harrisburg’s Dax Bennett passed for 174 yards and ran for two touchdowns and Jon Lekkeman rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns in a 63-7 rout of Siuslaw. Bennett also returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown and had two interceptions on defense. … Madras forced four turnovers in a 30-16 win over Yamhill-Carlton. … Vale fell to Homedale (Idaho) 55-22 despite the play of Colton Kesey, who passed for 248 yards and three touchdowns. … St. Mary’s quarterback Aliiloa Kaeo-Wailehua threw five touchdown passes, two to Jonah Hadley, in a 48-8 win over Douglas.
Reigning champion Monroe handed Jefferson its first defeat, building a 43-12 lead at half in a 43-26 win. Zach Young rushed for 236 yards and four touchdowns for the Dragons. … Weston-McEwen held off Stanfield 34-28 behind A.J. Keeny, who ran for 152 yards and two touchdowns. … Heppner cruised past Riverside 44-6 as Jayden Wilson threw two touchdown passes and Gavin Hanna-Robinson rushed for 99 yards and two scores. … Toledo’s Jaxon Rozewski passed for 326 yards and five touchdowns and Cameron Lonergan had five catches for 214 yards and three scores in a 40-16 win over Reedsport. … Emorej Lynk ran for two touchdowns to lead Kennedy past Grant Union 37-0. … Coquille trailed Bandon 8-6 in the final two minutes but converted a fumble into a touchdown to win 14-8. ... Jacob DeBoff completed all seven of his passes for 128 yards and three touchdowns to lead Sheridan past Chemawa 59-18. Josh Rogers ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns and Joey Daniel had two interceptions, returning one 49 yards for a score, for Sheridan.
Butte Falls dominated Myrtle Point 82-24 as Kai Hansen rushed for 110 yards and three touchdowns and Dylan Bridges threw for three scores, two to Levi Underhill. … Michael Powell rushed for 149 yards to lead North Douglas past Oakridge 66-20. … Jordan Aguilar ran for 138 yards and three touchdowns and Corbin Eichman ran for two scores in Yoncalla’s 44-38 win over Mapleton. In defeat, Sailors sophomore quarterback JJ Neece ran for 211 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 1,315 rushing yards this season. … Pilot Rock stayed unbeaten as Tanner Corwin threw three touchdown passes, two to Logan Weinke, and Saber Harp had 14 tackles in defeating Imbler 28-14. ... Wallowa improved to 4-1 with a 54-18 win over Falls City/Kings Valley Charter as Austin Brockamp rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns and Gus Ramsden threw for three scores.