FOURTH TIME A CHARM
By Gerry Steele
For the Observer
Plans are being made to remodel the outside wall of the Powder Valley High School gymnasium.
That's because school officials have to find space for a new addition to the list of school championships listed on that wall.
Powder Valley earned its first-ever Class 1A football championship Saturday by cruising past Powers 52-22 in the title game of the OSAA/U.S. Bank/ Les Schwab Tires State Championships at Hillsboro Stadium.
The top-ranked Badgers (12-0) claimed their first crown after advancing to at least the semifinals each of the past four years. Powder lost to Dufur in the 2000 title game, and was beaten by St. Paul in the semifinals in 2001 and 2002.
Let the celebration begin.
"We've got a bunch of happy kids," said Powder coach Alan Stanfield by telephone Saturday evening. "This whole thing is just pretty cool.
"To all of the kids' credit, they got the job done," he said. "There are no individuals on this team. This is a team and they played that way."
Stanfield said the team celebrated its trophy with Badger fans at the Marriott Hotel in Portland following the game. He said none of the players traveled back to North Powder on the team bus, having dispersed with parents and other relatives to celebrate.
Stanfield said the players wanted to add to the gym wall Saturday, but, he added, that will probably happen within the next couple of weeks.
The Powder coach, who also coaches the junior varsity girls basketball team, said the Badgers would like to celebrate the win longer, but most of the players now will trade their cleats for sneakers. Powder Valley opens its basketball season at the Prairie City tournament Friday.
After struggling to a 22-14 halftime lead, the Badgers turned on the afterburners in the second half. Powder scored the first five touchdowns of the second half to blow the game open.
"We didn't do a lot of chewing at halftime," Stanfield said. "We just refocused, and made a couple of defensive adjustments."
It was the Badgers' defense that sparked the second-half eruption.
Powder Valley intercepted three passes and recovered four fumbles in the game.
The Badgers opened the second half by successfully recovering an onside kick (avenging two successful Powers onside attempts in the first quarter).
Powder Valley then drove 49 yards in 10 plays, with quarterback Todd Baxter connecting for a 9-yard touchdown with Kaycee Shroyer to build the Badgers' lead to 28-14.
Then, the defense took over.
On Powers' next drive, Powder Valley's Justin Deal recovered a Dan Lusby fumble at the Cruisers' 26, and bolted into the end zone for a 34-14 Powder Valley cushion.
As if that wasn't good enough, Cody Taylor added a second defensive touchdown on Powers' next drive.
This time, Taylor stepped in front of a Brannon Monaco pitch on the option and raced untouched for a 23-yard score.
"We just basically packed it in the middle and said if you can beat us outside go ahead'," Stanfield said. "We just outphysicalled them from there.
"Those two defensive touchdowns turned things around. On Cody's play, I'd never seen anything like that before," he said.
Shroyer recovered the third consecutive Powers fumble on the next drive, and again, Powder Valley took advantage.
This time, the Badgers used a little trickery. Baxter flipped the ball to running back Deven Thompson, and broke into the pass pattern. Thompson found Baxter near the goal line, and Baxter bulled in for a 10-yard TD play.
Then, after stopping Powers on downs at the end of the third period, Baxter opened the fourth quarter by connecting with Arden Perkins on a 17-yard scoring strike.
First half struggle
In the first half, Powder Valley appeared to still be suffering from the flu bug that hit the team earlier in the week.
The Badgers started off sluggish, losing two onside kicks on two of the first three plays of the game.
Powers scored on a 36-yard Monaco-to-Spencer Allred touchdown pass following the first kick. The Cruisers were driving again when Baxter intercepted a Monaco pass at the Powder 8-yard line.
"Those onside kicks caught us off guard a little," Stanfield said. "If Todd hadn't made his interception on the second drive, we easily could have been down 16-0."
Stanfield said some of the Badgers were still suffering from the bug.
"We got winded early on, but once we settled into our game we were fine," he said.
"Todd got a little flustered, and tried to force the deep ball a couple of times. He'd be the first to tell you this wasn't one of his best games throwing the ball. But, to his credit, he realized what he needed to do, and the short passes started to click."
Following Baxter's interception, the Badgers marched 77 yards on just six plays to tie the game at 8-8. Thompson's 4-yard run knotted the game.
Powder took its first lead on its next series. After forcing a Powers punt that gave the Badgers possession on the Powers 37, Baxter needed just five plays before finding Thomas Weems on an 18-yard TD aerial.
Powers evened the score again after Matt Shorb intercepted a Baxter pass at the Powder 31.
The Cruisers then marched downfield with Monaco doing the honors, bolting up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown to knot the score at 14-14.
Powder Valley took just four plays to regain the lead for good just before halftime.
Starting on the Powder 41, Baxter connected with Thompson for 28 yards, and Taylor for eight more to move the ball to the Powers 23. Baxter then ran for eight yards off the left side before finding Thompson on a 15-yard touchdown with 1:06 left in the half.
Powder Valley finished with 445 yards in offense, Powers 337.
Baxter finished the game with 98 yards rushing on 14 carries, and was 18-of-30 passing for 193 yards.
Hank Shorb led Powers with 105 yards on 16 carries.
Powder Valley 52, Powers 22
Powder Valley 14 8 24 6 52
Powers 8 6 0 8 22
PO Allred 36 pass from Monaco (Monaco run)
PV Thompson 4 run (Baxter run)
PV T. Weems 18 pass from Baxter (Pass failed)
PO Monaco 17 run (Run failed)
PV Thompson 15 pass from Baxter (Shroyer pass from Baxter)
PV Shroyer 9 pass from Baxter (Pass failed)
PV Deal 26 fumble return (Pass failed)
PV Taylor 23 fumble return (Pass failed)
PV Baxter 10 pass from Thompson (Kick failed)
PV Perkins 17 pass from Baxter (Kick failed)
PO Hamlett 10 run (Allen run)
Rushing Powder Valley, Baxter 14-98, Thompson 9-55, Gray 4-41, Taylor 5-30, J.D.Weems 1-5, Forman 2-5, Thomas Weems 2-(-2), Deal 2-(-7). Powers, Hank Shorb 16-105, Monaco 18-56, Lusby 11-46, Allred 2-11, Hamlett 1-10, Matt Shorb 1-3.
Passing Powder Valley, Baxter 18-30-2-193, Deal 1-1-0-17, Thompson 1-1-0-10. Powers, Monaco 3-12-3-84, H. Shorb 1-1-0-22.
Receiving Powder Valley, T. Weems 4-48, Shroyer 4-39, Taylor 3-40, Thompson 3-33, Perkins 3-30, Baxter 2-27, Deal 1-3. Powers, Allred 2-58, M. Shorb 1-27, Hamlett 1-21.