Sweet Home finds its ‘O’ to defeat LaPine

Jackson Baer

For The New Era

The offense came to play Thursday as the Huskies beat LaPine 52-27 in a convincing home win.

With the victory, Sweet Home improves to 2-4 on the year, 1-1 in league and LaPine falls to 0-6. The running game continued to show improvement as this was by far the most balanced offensive attack from the Huskies.

“The kids are getting more experienced and more confident in the offense we’re trying to run, said head coach Dustin Nichol.

“They’re seeing things and trying to call plays from what they’re seeing. That’s the attitude we took this week, one of playing aggressive and playing to win instead of playing not to get beat.”

“The receivers were catching the ball this week and that’s a huge difference. You don’t have to throw as many times and Keenan (Martin) was throwing it where they could catch it. They weren’t forcing the issue and we were moving the chains. I wanted a balance in the passing and running game and we got it, everybody was doing their job.”

The first quarter began somewhat indicative of how the season has gone to this point for the Sweet Home football team. After a three and out by LaPine, Sweet Home fumbled the punt, which led to a touchdown for the visiting team.

Falling behind early has been a problem for the Huskies this year, usually having one bad quarter each game. But this time Sweet Home followed with a strong two-minute drive that finished with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Martin to Alex Coakley, the first of three touchdown passes between the two seniors.

The Hawks drove the ball down the field but Alex Santana made a great play to collect an interception at the 1-yard line. Sweet Home would take the ball all the way down the field and score with :01 left in the first quarter. Martin connected with Coakley again, this time on a 64-yard touchdown pass.

“We got back into having fun this week,” Coakley said. “We started trusting each other and it really showed on the field.”

The second quarter would be that “big” quarter mentioned earlier but this time it was for the Huskies. Sweet Home recovered a fumble less than a minute in and quickly scored on another touchdown pass, this time on a tipped ball caught by Bryce Seiber.

Sweet Home drove the ball down the field once again but committed its only major miscue of the game, fumbling on the LaPine 18-yard line. The Hawks capitalized with a 40-yard touchdown pass to close the score to 21-14.

On the next drive the running game would provide a much-needed boost for the Husky confidence. Kyle Sorenson delivered an explosive 33-yard run followed by a 23-yard ramble by Patrick Long. Long finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run but a bad snap led to a failed two-point conversion.

On the kickoff LaPine attempted a little trickery, but the Hawks fumbled on a reverse and Sweet Home recovered. A holding penalty negated a would-be 15-yard touchdown run by Martin but the offense was clicking on all cylinders and Martin hooked up with Coakley once again for a 20-yard touchdown pass. The 2-point conversion was successful on another Martin run and the Husky lead stretched to 35-14.

With time running out LaPine was stopped quickly on offense and Martin hit Santana for a 32-yard completion with just a few seconds left. Santana, who shines on defense and as a receiver, is also the kicker and hit a 25-yard field goal as time expired to take a 38-14 lead into halftime.

Sorenson, who finished the night with 142 yards on 15 rushes, started the second half like the first half never ended, with a 22-yard run on the first play. Martin then found Santana for a 34-yard touchdown pass two plays later to give Sweet Home a 45-14 lead.

Later in the quarter LaPine would find the end zone again on a 5-yard rushing touchdown but the extra point was no good.

The third quarter was fairly quiet and the Husky running game was winding the clock down and taking control of the game.

Martin exploded for a 17-yard rushing touchdown on third and goal from the 17-yard line to get the fourth quarter started with a bang. LaPine would score a late touchdown on a 9-yard rush with 2:04 left against mostly backups who got a chance to play a good portion of the fourth quarter.

“We were all focused on what we needed to do,” Martin said. “On Monday we had a fun practice where we played 3 on 3 games and competed. It relaxed our minds and helped us come together.”

“We came out and played a complete game,” said senior Grason Reynolds. “We played physically and mentally tough. Our quarterback threw the ball well and our linemen blocked well.”

It was clear that the Huskies played as a team and were into the game emotionally. The players on the sidelines and the field gave enthusiastic congratulations and high fives after good plays, something that hasn’t been seen too much before, and coaches made an effort to keep spirits high.

“The win was huge, it was a boost for our confidence. All the teams in our league are pretty evenly matched with the exception of Cottage Grove,” Nichol said. “When you look at the scores you see there are major inconsistencies and whoever is up for the game that week is going to get the win. We need to always be up for the game and be at the top of that curve.

Junction City scored 57 points last week versus Cottage Grove so we’re going to have our hands full.”

The Huskies travel to Junction City this week with a chance to accomplish two things: their first winning streak and a winning league record. Junction City is 2-3 on the year and fell 88-57 last week versus Cottage Grove.

The question is which Junction City team will show up: the one that scored 57 against a solid Cottage Grove team or that scored 17 against a weak Sisters and 2 the previous week versus North Marion.

“We have to be able to stop the big play, bend-but-don’t-break kind of a defense. We can’t give up the big play,” said Nichol.

“They’re gonna spread us out and put their best guy against our best guy but if we play like we did in the first half against Central I think we’re gonna be OK. Our offense can compete with their defense and score some points, our defense needs to make plays and stop their offense.”

Scoring Summary

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total

SH 14 24 7 7 52

LP 7 7 6 7 27

1st Quarter:

L €“ 8:04 €“ Caz Denecochea 1-yd run (Denecochea kick)

SH €“ 6:05 €“ Keenon Martin 27-yd pass to Alex Coakley (Alex Santana kick)

SH €“ 0:01 €“ Martin 64-yd pass to Coakley (Santana kick)

2nd Quarter:

SH €“ 10:04 €“ Martin 13-yd pass to Bryce Seiber (Santana kick)

L €“ 6:08 €“ Austin Manley 40-yd pass to Spencer Wilson (Denecochea kick) SH €“ 3:00 €“ Patrick Long 1-yd run

(run failed)

SH €“1:46 €“ Martin 20-yd pass to Coakley (Martin run)

SH €“ 0:01€“ Santana 27-yd FG 3rd Quarter:

SH €“ 10:39 €“ Martin 33-yd pass to Santana (Santana kick)

L €“ 4:55 €“ Wilson 5-yd run (Kick failed)

4th Quarter:

SH €“ 10:47 €“ Martin 16-yd run (Santana kick)

L €“ 2:04 €“ Manley 8-yd run (Denecochea kick)

Team Statistics

Total Yards: 476

Rushing: 39-267

Passing: 7-11-0- 209

Individual Statistics

Rushing: Kyle Sorenson 16-142; Patrick Long 8-54, 1 TD; Ty Harvey 3-21; Keenan Martin 2-20, 1 TD; Zach Jackson 3018; Hunter Bidwell 4-17; Ty Collins 2-4; Colton Holly 1-0.

Passing: Keenan Martin 7-10-0, 5 TD’s; Colton Holly 0-1-0.

Receiving: Alex Coakley 3-3-111, 3 TD’s; Alex Santana 2-50, 1 TD; Hunter Bidwell 1-35; Bryce Seiber 1-13, 1 TD.

Punting: Alex Coakley 1-28.

Punt Returns: Hunter Bidwell 1-9.

Kickoff Returns: Hunter Bidwell 1-15; Zach Miller 3-15; Kyle Sorenson 1-8.

* * * *

Sweet Home JV 1 30, LaPine 20

The JV I team raised its record to 5-0 for the season as Ty Harvey led the way with two touchdown runs, one for 30 yards, in defeating LaPine 30-20 on the road.

Ty Collins also rushed for a touchdown and Colton Holly hooked up with Scottie Stockman for a 40-yard touchdown pass.

“We didn’t have our best night defensively, but we came up big with a couple of fourth-down stops and denied a late two-point PAT that would have made it an eight-point game instead of 10 points with less than three minutes left,” Coach Jay Horner said.

* * * *

JV 2 12, LaPine 0

Brian Malloy and JP Weld scored touchdowns for the Huskies, who had a difficult time getting their offense going, but kept their season record spotless at 4-0 with the win.

“Our defense played big after some turnovers for us deep in our own territory,” Horner said. “We were able to stop four different fourth-down attempts by Lapine throughout the game and caused LaPine to turn the ball over five times, two of them interceptions by Austin Rice.”