By Jeremy McDonald
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.–If last Friday was a test for the more skilled-position friendly teams like Blanchet Catholic, then this Saturday’s game against Klamath Union was more like a prep for team’s like a Scio in terms of run-and-pound.
To start the game, their defense answered the bell early in the game in slowing the running game, capitalizing on a botched snap by the Pelicans to take a quick 2-0 lead as the Salem Academy defense tackled Izak Peterson in the end-zone for a safety.
But, Peterson, who went 4-8 for nine yards, led a rushing attack that complied 261 rushing yards on 19 carries in the game. Peterson had 90 yards on 19 carries himself as Klamath Union took a 13-2 lead as the Crusader offense struggled to find their timing until late in the second quarter when Cole Hardy and company began to march down the field on their last two possessions of the opening half.
“They got a really great running game, and I know we got a good line but we couldn’t really stop them,” said Dawson Patton, who had a team-high 8.5 tackles, seven were solo, in the loss Saturday to go with three catches for 28 yards offensively. “This game was very physical, they gave hit hard and we hit hard back. They’re not dirty players, they’re great guys that just hit hard.”
But what slowed them down from an offensive side of things from making this a even-flowed game on the scoreboard was penalties and turnovers as it was a nearly evened game in yardage (234 for Salem Academy and 271 for Klamath Union). Two Interception and a fumble hurt the Crusaders at the end of the first half and 11 total penalites, a solid amount coming in the second half, totaling 101 yards limited Salem Academy’s offense from striking in the end-zone and allowed the Pelicans to pull away entering the fourth quarter up 27-2.
“I think it’s frustrating but I think it’s just building blocks,” said Jacob Haller, who scored the lone touchdown for the Crusaders in the game off a 40-yard run with 2:48 remaining in the game, on the penalties. “it’s early in the season, with a young team, and we learned things that we didn’t know yet. Things that you don’t find out until you play in a game.
“So as there’s frustrations, I think it’s a lot to learn from. I mean we got to get the snap count down a little bit more, our play-calling, which is going to come.”
Haller goes on to say that it’s frustrating in the moment but it’s just got them ready for league.
Haller had 62 rushing yards to go with 32 receiving yards. Gage Hazelton led the team in receptions with five for 55 yards and Cole Hardy went 15-34 for 172 yards.
With them, being Salem Academy, entering PacWest league play with a 1-1 record for the next two weeks before having another non-league game versus Regis on September 29 and one last non-league game versus Sheridan on October 12, they’ll remember the effort they gave out Saturday as they mix this sour taste and facing rival Cavailers on Friday into a positive.
“Oh we’re going to have to remember this loss and hit hard like we did here and trying to make that into some energy, some positive energy.” said Patton.
For this young team though too, these last two weeks served as a growing process for a young Crusader squad who are stepping up for the 13 seniors who left the program after last Fall.
Haller points to the benefits of the last two weeks as they prep for Blanchet next Friday and Scio the following week.
“It’s really been helpful because we seen two total different offenses,” he starts. “We saw a total pass offense, skill-offense last week as well on defense (versus Taft). This week, we saw more of a pound (game), see where our strengths were and yeah today didn’t go as well, there’s a lot of positives of today.”
The biggest thing that Haller and Head Coach Gary Johnson pointed out as the Pelicans hosted a lunch-in following the game, was their effort for a team so young and inexperience as they now turn their focus to McCulloch Stadium for the rivalry game at 7pm on Friday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald