GERVAIS, Ore.– There was something in the air Friday night at Gervais High School when Sheridan came down to start the season.
In the press box, a new voice of Cougar Football in Head Boys Basketball Coach Ben Schultz, replacing long time announcer in Bob Martin, lend his voice for the first chapter of 2017 Gervais Cougar football.
“It’s a honor to be asked. Bob Martin was doing it for years and wanted to step down. Tim bowman asked me if I’d Do it and I said sure,” said Schultz. “I’ve announced before at other schools and it’s always fun. Feels good to get the crowd riled up.
“But three overtimes is going to kill me,” joked Schultz.
But triple overtime, practically seven quarters work of hard work that span two-and-a-half hours of hard work and probably a lot of pickle juice and Gatorade consumed.
And it pretty much did.
Here’s how we got to overtime.
Needing a stop in order to at least tie the game, the Cougar defense that was ever so strong despite the then-22 points on the board showed did just that and handed the ball back to their offense.
Kona Kawamura broke loose as he did all game long to start the drive from the Spartans 45, Dyontae Navarrete added another one. Eventually, with roughly forty seconds remaining following this play, Gervais tied it up at 22 with Nate Corpuz hitting Kawamura in the flats for the go tying score
“We needed it bad, we needed it. Our players, told each other that we needed it and everybody became a leader and told each other that we needed it and everybody became a leader and we timed it and we did what we did,” said Kawamura on the score as the home crowd cheered them on loudly.
Kawamura picked off the last play of regulation and as they were stopped offensively, the crucial play of the overtime periods was during Sheridan’s first overtime drive.
On this play, Gervais made the stop about two-yards off the line but there was a question about if the play was ruled died or will rule a touchdown. As Head Coach Josh Crawford and the Cougars begged in favor of the dead play, the Spartans were celebrating a possible win.
The final call would favor Gervais as both teams walked back out with Crawford rallying the troops to dig deep for the stop.
The Cougars did that just that and got the stop to force a second overtime.
“It’s exciting because I see a future that Gervais football that hasn’t had in a long time,” said Crawford. “And the kids feel it, so that’s why there’s so many tears today, there weren’t a lot of tears last year or the year before.
“There were tears now because everyone cares.”
In 2016, the Cougars lost to this Sheridan team 31-28; and with that breathe of life, they answered with a Corpuz score in the second overtime score with the Spartans answering that on their next possession to continue the game.
Around them, as the Cougars took the field once more for the third offensive possession, the crowd was deafing, it was like when Gervais made their last playoff run.
And the Cougars took note of it.
“It’s awesome, I’ve never heard that crowd make that kind of noise,” said senior Michael Guido, who’s offensive line play set up the strong running game and was a animal in the trenches defensively Friday night.
Both team’s were drained entering that third OT period as Corpuz scored again, but the two point conversion failed. 34-28 Cougars. A stop would seal a hard fought, gritty win; a Spartan score, anything is possible.
But, it was not meant to be for the hard working Gervais squad as Sheridan scored on their first play and converted a two-point conversion to win the game.
Stunned, Gervais couldn’t believe that they were that close to victory. Tears were there yes from passion.
The Coaches, proud of their efforts. Gervais alums like Derrick Jaramillo, Calen Bischel and River Moss walked over to the post game meeting, they too were proud of their alma mater and their fight.
“We preach communication and choice, it’s their choice,” said Crawford. “They chose to keep fighting and unfortunately the last play, everyone got tired. We were playing for two-and-a-half hours or something like that. My hats off to them, they played amazing, we’ll take the momentum cause they’re not a bad team, they’re in a tough league but it doesn’t show in the win-loss but they were way better than they were last year.
“But they played great, Nate played amazing, he took a lot on his shoudlers and Dyontae and Kona.”
As they hugged each other after they broke as a team, they know this is just the beginning of things to come with the Cougar team.
“It was exciting, emotional,” said Guido. “I’m really upset that we lost, but it was a good hard fought game.”
For Kawamura, he believes that this game was a statement for the team for the season as they turn to practice Monday to sharpen up the edges and carry Friday’s momentum.
“That Gervais is for real now. Gervais is up there and we’re coming,” Kawamura .
“We’re coming for State, just after this game, describing it…it’s ring season, everyone on this team is a family. You come at us, your gonna get it.