By Jeremy McDonald
HILLSBORO, Ore.–There was something special brewing entering the third quarter of the 2A State Game Saturday afterrnoon.
Though the score read: Monroe 20, Santiam 14, momentum and confidence were high as they sent the second half kick to the Dragons with their home crowd cheering behind them at Hillsboro Stadium.
It’s not everyday, every year even, that you get to be in this situation fighting for the State Championship. And the Wolverines and the Monroe-Triangle Lake Dragons were doing just that.
“It’s a great experience playing in this game, I really loved to play in it,” said Christian Cade. “It’s a big game for me and the community behind us, the team. Coach McGee, big shout-out to him, he’s done a lot for us over the last six months.
“He’s pushed us to the young men we are today.”
Though their punting unit gave up a safety early in the third quarter, the Wolverines held strong and eventually tied the game at 22 midwy through the third; and with their hands in the air holding the number four and came out to cheers, they knew that this game was going to come down to who wanted it more as a fine drizzle began to fall.
The brotherhood of unity, togetherness and fighting for each other as those on the sidelines held up their hands as their teammates walked out to the girdiron for the final 12 minutes.
“It’s just brotherhood, never wanting to give up. Fight for each other,” said Jesse Sendlinger, the junior had three total tackles in the game.
Christian Cade’s voice boomed along the sidelines as the junior cheered his team from the sidelines, helped Gabe Lanham after he got taped up etc. Showcasing that brotherhood that Dustin McGee and his coaching staff has instill in this program.
“You know, we’ve been together for six months, throughout the summer and it’s just a strong bond between us boys,” “We’ve grown up together as men. Grown up this year and it’s been a rough season.
“We’ve won, we’ve lost, we’ve done it all together. We lose today together as a team and as a brotherhood. I mean that’s all is there to it.”
Monroe broke the 22-all tie with a two-yard strike to make it 29-22 with 9:01 left in the game before a touchdown pass could have tied it with 7:24 left before it was called back to force fourth down and before the Dragons got the ball back.
That’s when Monroe/Triangle Lake extended their lead to 36-22 with 7:15 left.
Santiam kept fighting, kept driving for gold until the end, and as they walked off the field to hugs of family, friends and the community; the brotherhood extends past just them, but to the Mill City community as a whole as they looked at them having a chance for this opportunity to fight for the top trophy. And though it was second, their family and friends and the community are still proud of them.
Brody Davidson had three catches for 71 yards and a score, Trevor Tinney had 34 on the ground and 13 total tackles; but the looks on those two athletes faces, along with everyone else’s spoke volumes to how much this one hurt, especially for their seniors like Jordan Lanham (7 Total tackles, four catches for 70 yards, 1 TD) and Sean Horning (9 Total tackles, 1 sack).
But, this frustration and anger will fuel them for next year and another year under the Dustin McGee-system as they make another run for the 2A Title in 2018.
“Just keep doing the same thing this summer. Just take all five weeks and go through it. we don’t lose that many seniors,” said Sendlinger. “New kids coming up, we’ll work the new kids in.”
“Next year we’re going to have a good season,” adds Cade. “We’re losing a couple of seniors and the seniors are a big part of our team, but next year we’re going to have a good season. We’re going to come out strong and we’re going to give it our all.”
As they walk off that turf field in Hillsboro Saturday, they’ll remember all the hard work and sacrifice that went into it. For the seniors, it’ll last with them.
For the underclassmen returning, they’ll remember The Brotherhood of this season that got them to this point as they duplicate it again in 2018 as they too won’t forget the season that this year was.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald