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Football: Huskies fall short against Stayton in defensive struggle, 6-0


September 20, 2016

HUSKIES DEFENSIVE BACK Conner Russell (18) brings down Stayton’s Cade Nau after a catch.

Sweet Home’s offense couldn’t get in rhythm Friday night in a 6-0 loss at Stayton.

The Huskies struggled all night long.

Sweet Home quarterback Daniel Virtue was intercepted six times in the defensive battle that saw both teams play hard-nosed D.

The Eagles’ lone touchdown came on special-teams punt return.

“I think, in the first half, that was the offensive line giving some up, “said head coach Dustin Nichol of Virtue’s struggles.

“Dan’s a competitor, we’re down by six and he is trying to make something happen. He just kind of fell short there. He could have thrown some balls away or things of that nature, but I’d rather see him throw something like that – really, they’re good punts. They’re third and fourth downs, they’re thirty-yard punts if you look at it that way. It’s not like they pick-sixed it. It was deep balls. He didn’t take a sack. It’s all in how your perspective is.”

Stayton’s Jerry Daniels was tough to contain in the first half on both sides of the ball, wreaking havoc on the offensive line and running backs for Sweet Home. Daniels was the lone Eagle who had more than five yards rushing. He finished with 86 yards.

“What we did was the first half we tried double-teaming (Daniels) across the line, and then we made some adjustments, we rolled away from him, and we put our running back on him to give him a chip to slow him down and I think it was pretty effective in the second half,” Nichol said. “Still, he is a factor because we had to do something extraordinary, out of our normal scheme, to take care of him. But I think he was more neutral in the second half than the first.”

Senior wideout and defensive back Keanu Aiona said Daniels made a difference.

“It was the big 23 kid, mostly,” Aiona said. “Once he started causing havoc, we had to worry about him. We would have to have two or three guys on him and then someone else would get through.”

Sweet Home’s defense came to play, too, though, slamming the brakes on the Eagles’ offense. The defensive line shut down the run game for the most part. Of Daniels’ 86 yards, 42 came on a run in the first quarter – on which he did not score.

Eagles quarterback Jacob Jungworth was beaten and battered all night by the Huskies. He threw for 82 passing yards and was sacked numerous times, and hurried by the defensive line and linebackers.

“Aiona and our defensive ends did a good job containing, but what we did is we had the stunt set up for Aiona, and he was a man-child on defense,” said Nichol. “We tried getting the ball in his hands on offense with some bubble passes and things of that nature. We have to get our receivers to block a little better.”

“Our defense were juggernauts. It was Aiona, but the reason that quarterback couldn’t roll out was our ends were keeping him in the pocket. Aiona, with that speed and aggression, he was just teeing off. We must have had seven or eight sacks and three or four of them were his.”

Sweet Home had a chance to take a 7-0 lead at the end of the first half, when the Huskies had the ball at the 21-yard line with 7.9 seconds to go. Virtue was nearly sacked, but he didn’t go down. The referee blew his whistle and called the play dead, though Virtue had escaped and ran down the field. That whistle stalled the drive for the Huskies, who went into the half tied 0-0.

With 3:57 to go in third quarter Stayton’s Aidin Hill returned a punt 45 yards for what was ultimately the game-winning touchdown.

After that score, the Huskies and Eagles exchanged punts, fumbles, and all the way up to the last play of the game. Sweet Home recovered a fumble with 39.6 seconds to go in the game. However, after a holding penalty that wiped out a nice gain. Virtue was intercepted on the last play of the game ending the threat and sending the Huskies home with a bad taste in their mouth knowing they were only one play away from victory.

Virtue finished with nine pass completions in 23 attempts, with 107 yards and six interceptions. Hayden Nichol led the Huskies in rushing with eight yards.

“I was telling these guys,” Nichol said. “‘You know, it’s either going to be we blow them out or they blow us out.’ Or, if it comes down to a double overtime; we had those games (last year) against Elmira, two times in one year. These guys were involved in those games, and I know they have a no-quit attitude.

“That’s what they play with: a lot of no-quit attitude, heart, and desire. You can’t coach that. Even though we were outmanned in some areas, they never quit and they put themselves in positions to make plays.

“It’s just unfortunate we didn’t make the plays.”

Sweet Home starts its league schedule at home against Cottage Grove at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23. The Lions beat Newport 59-7 in Week 1, then rolled over Madras on the road 63-0 before edging Scappoose at home 24-21 Friday night.

Nichol said he wants to see improved blocking from his offensive line and receivers.

“Primarily, we are going to work on blocking for the offensive line and the receivers because when we would go quad and trips, we would get the ball to the guys and our receivers wouldn’t hold or sustain the blocks,” he said.

“That’s the thing about going to a spread offense. If we are going to get beat up on the line, we are going to move the line of scrimmage. I felt that any time Aiona, (Austin) James, Hayden McDonald, Connor Duran, Nick Maler, or our other X’s and Z’s got out in space, we were one broken tackle away from a touchdown and opening this thing up and winning it by one.”

Scoring Summary

JAKE SWANSON hangs on to bring down Stayton’s Jerry Daniels.

Stay 0 0 6 0 – 6

SH 0 0 0 0 – 0

Third Quarter

Stayton – Aidan Hill 45-yard punt return. Kick failed.


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