ADAIR VILLAGE — Santiam Christian High left no doubt that it belongs in the final four of the OSAA 3A state football playoffs.
The second-seeded Eagles destroyed Vale 50-6 on Saturday at SC to authoritatively advance to the semifinals. It will face 11th-seed Rainier, a 40-6 victor at Nyssa on Saturday, at 11 a.m. next Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium.
SC (9-2) dominated from start to finish in eliminating the 10th-seeded Vikings (7-4), the Eastern Oregon League runners-up. It led 13-0, 29-0 and 50-0 at the quarter stops, and ended the mismatch with an interception by Miles Henderson, one of many reserves to play in the fourth quarter after the 45-point running clock was evoked.
“We played very well,” SC coach Matt Bain said. “Our quickness made a big difference. They were missing a few guys, that hurt them, but they had trouble getting out of the blocks.
“They were in the hole a lot early, field position really helped us. We’ve been running well, and we threw better today, so we had a lot more balance. We got things clicking a bit, which was good to see.”
Junior tailback Luke Janssen scored on runs of 16, 6, 3 and 1 yards to pace the Eagles, who outquicked the much-larger Vikings on either side of the ball. Senior quarterback Grant Carley also threw for a score and two two-point conversions.
“Our linemen exploded through the snap and hit their linemen really well,” Janssen said in explaining how the smaller Eagles were able to exert their will up front. “We practiced all week on staying low and just exploding through them.
“My line is so aggressive. They helped me do everything I was able to do. The last four or five weeks our linemen have done the same thing, over and over,” helping the Eagles win five games in a row by a combined 222-64 score.
“I feel I have the best linemen in the state, they are super-good. I’m not surprised with what they did, but I’m very happy with what they did.”
The Eagles scored on their second drive to take a 7-0 lead with 3:36 left in the first quarter. A diving interception by senior linebacker Kyle Paratore on Vale’s ensuing possession gave SC the ball at the Vikings’ 34 and it scored in six plays for a 13-0 cushion.
“I dropped back into my zone, and then went up to get the quarterback because we know he’s a scrambler,” Paratore said. “He went to throw it away, and I just slid underneath and pinned it on my shoulder.
“We scored several plays later. It just broke their will. At halftime walking to the locker room they had their heads down, holding their ribs, you could just tell they didn’t want to come out in the second half at all.
“They looked like they were done with the game at halftime.”
If they weren’t, the third quarter nudged them further in that direction. SC outscored the Vikings 21-0, invoking the 45-point running clock with 1:20 left on a 2-yard plunge by Hunter Fields.
Vale had just one first down and ran only 15 plays in the third quarter.
“Our defensive line was amazing,” Paratore said. “They just slid right between (Vale’s blockers) and they couldn’t keep up with us.
“Vale is a great team. We did not expect that score at all. We expected touchdowns and a defensive battle but our linemen, especially Caleb Beck, flew right threw them and was ripping guys apart.
“Jaxon Connor is another fast guy. All of our defense just flies to the football. We don’t rely on any heaviness; Jonny Green and I are the heaviest guys on the team and we only weigh 235 pounds.”