ADAIR VILLAGE — Avenging one of the most lopsided losses in recent memory won’t be a motivating factor for the Santiam Christian High football team when it faces powerful Cascade Christian in the OSAA 3A state-championship game.
No, Saturday’s 4 p.m. showdown at Herald White Stadium in Cottage Grove will be a Civil Meeting, not a Civil War. It will be a matchup of programs with similar faiths, like philosophies, and mutual respect, not one for the right to live in the state of Oregon.
“No revenge at all, nowhere near, we love playing those guys, they are some of the nicest guys we play against,” SC senior linebacker Kyle Paratore said of Cascade Christian (11-1), who manhandled the Eagles (10-2) 47-0 in Medford on Oct. 6 in their regular-season contest.
“They don’t talk trash. We’re both Christian schools, we both have respect for each other. It’s different than playing some other teams who cheap-shot left-and-right. I don’t think I’ve ever been cheap-shotted by Cascade.
“They just play with respect, and that’s why we like playing them. We know they are the toughest team we’ve played and they deserve to be in the state championship, just like we do."
The second-seeded Eagles eliminated Colton (42-6), Vale (50-6) and Rainier (30-14) to advance to the championship game for the third time since 2011. Fourth-seeded Cascade Christian ousted Willamina (52-3), Harrisburg (46-8) and Scio (49-28) while steamrolling through the first three rounds.
SC has outscored its opponents 252-78 during its ongoing six-game winning streak, which started on Oct. 13 with a 54-7 rout of Taft at Lincoln City. Cascade Christian has won nine games in a row; it has scored at least 46 points in every game during that span and its average margin of victory is 40.1 points.
Cascade Christian’s 47-0 win over SC isn’t its only mismatch. The Challengers also crushed Lakeview 63-6, St. Mary’s of Medford 70-14 and Illinois Valley 62-0 in its final three regular-season games. Their only loss was to 4A Mazama.
Paratore recalled that SC seemed “flat” in the Oct. 6 game.
“I don’t think we were comfortable with where we were,” he said. “We had just lost to Dayton, we were down.
“But they just destroyed us. Our line couldn’t block, our defensive line didn’t get off the ball and our linebackers got blocked left and right. Not much good happened that day.”
SC coach Matt Bain echoed Paratore’s assessment.
“They whipped us, there is no other way to say it,” he said. “They are a great team, with a great quarterback who can run and throw, with a good line.
“They have a lot of good athletes. We’ve gotten better since then, but they just flat whipped us in every aspect of the game.”
So, how can SC rewrite the script in the rematch?
“That’s what we’re hoping to do,” Bain said. “The biggest thing we can do is get better in practice, get better at the little things that make a big difference.
“We know we’re going up against a good team. We just hope to give them a better game than we did last time.”
Added Paratore: “It’s the championship. We have 12 games of film to see what they have and what they’ve been doing. Our coaches go to their jobs, come home and watch film. They’ll figure it out. We’ll be a lot more comfortable.”
Cascade Christian was the Southern Cascade League champion. Quarterback Haiden Schaan earned offensive player of the year honors; safety Ben Dunn was the co-defensive player of the year. The Challengers combined for 13 offensive/defensive all-league selections.
Schaan was 21-for-28 passing for 211 yards and three touchdowns in the semifinal victory over Scio. His top targets were all-league receivers Dunn (9-105), Ian Fralich (7-66) and younger brother Kiegan Schaan (4-32). Each caught a touchdown pass.
“The biggest thing is (Haiden Schaan) played calm,” Cascade Christian coach Jon Gettman said afterward. “He didn’t try to do too much, he distributed the ball well and took what was there for him and then he made a couple plays just running around the pocket as only he can. It was just a great performance.”
SC was equally efficient in dispatching Rainier at Hillsboro Stadium. Quarterback Grant Carley was 17 for 25 for 254 yards and one TD; tailback Luke Janssen gained 110 yards on 20 carries, with a touchdown, and had a 24-yard reception. Receivers Noah Hubele (6-58, TD) and Jason Manzi (5-119) combined for 11 catches for 177 yards as Carley distributed the ball to five receivers.
Junior defensive lineman Jaxon Connor had 17 tackles, two sacks and five tackles for loss. A defensive back on defense, Manzi had 11 tackles and a breakup; Paratore had 10 tackles.
Junior linebacker Vandon Haugen added nine stops, 2.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, and a pass breakup and senior lineman Caleb Beck had eight tackles, a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss.
SC had six sacks and Rainier lost 83 yards trying to run or pass while netting just 63 yards on the ground. The Eagles did not allow a sack and did not have a turnover.
Bain said the Challengers are “no mystery” and the Eagles recognize the magnitude of the challenge awaiting them.
“We play them every year. They always are tough,” Bain said. “They deserve to be in the final game. They’ve been rolling everybody. We just hope to answer the bell.
“We have been balanced, and have done a better job of doing the things we do” throughout the playoffs, he added. “We are just playing better football.
“The question is, have we gotten better enough to beat those guys?”