COTTAGE GROVE — The Scio High football team is built to protect leads by playing keep-away with its ball-control ground attack.
But in Saturday’s 3A state semifinals, the top-seeded Loggers were forced to adjust when No. 4 Cascade Christian stormed out to a commanding 21-0 advantage. The hole was too big to claw out of.
The Challengers led 42-6 late in the second quarter and cruised to a 49-28 victory on a cool, foggy afternoon at Cottage Grove High. Cascade Christian (10-1) advances to play No. 2 Santiam Christian, a 30-14 winner over No. 11 Rainier, in next week’s finals.
Scio ends the season 9-2 overall.
“It’s tough to answer kids that are just fantastic athletes,” coach Kyle Braa said of Cascade Christian, which blanked the Loggers 49-0 in last year’s round of 16. “They just made some athletic plays and made it really tough on us.”
The Loggers had two first-half turnovers, including a lost fumble on their opening drive, that led to 14 Cascade Christian points. The Challengers scored touchdowns on their first six drives and didn’t punt the entire game.
Quarterback Haiden Schaan was nearly perfect for Cascade Christian, completing 21 of 28 passes for 211 yards with three TDs and one interception. The senior also rushed for two scores.
Dru Cook ran with a purpose in defeat, carrying 40 times for 215 yards and two TDs while hauling in a 22-yard TD pass from Caeden Splide.
Cook, a senior, spent much of the game at quarterback as the Loggers regularly deviated from their standard double-wing attack. Cook was 3-of-5 passing for 44 yards.
Fellow back Brody Foster, who has been battling a stinger for about a month, was limited to just three carries for four yards. With Foster fighting through pain, the Loggers were forced to shuffle their game plan.
“Our playbook was a little bigger this game,” Braa said. “But it was actually smaller, too, with (Brody) being dinged up. It hurt us.”
Schaan accounted for three first-quarter touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) as Cascade Christian jumped out to a 21-0 lead.
Cook got Scio, which was coming off a 30-13 quarterfinal victory over Coquille, on the board early in the second quarter with a 58-yard scoring run up the gut. But the Challengers answered with three consecutive TDs, including two more from Schaan, to seize control at 42-6.
Splide connected with Cook over the middle for a 22-yard score in the closing seconds of the second period, cutting Cascade Christian’s lead to 42-12 at the break.
Another Cook TD and an 8-yard Riley Zimmerman dive rounded out Scio’s scoring.
The Loggers, champions of the PacWest Conference for the fourth straight year, were making their second semifinal appearance in three seasons.
“As far as their legacy on the football field, they were a hard-working crew,” Braa said of the senior class. “They deserved everything they got and more.”