By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.— It seemed eons ago that Cascade Football started the season 0-3, but could have made an argument when they were 1-4 that they could have been closer to 2-3 or better.
But after two strong showings, the Cougars find themselves in the hunt for a postseason berth after taking down the tenth-ranked, previously unbeaten Newport Cubs 24-7 Thursday night on Senior Night.
With a squad that has pride themselves on their offense entering the game, it was their defense that fed right into their offense and running game. Holding Newport to a late first half score when Tanner Stottiemyre scampered in from five-yard out.
“It’s awesome. All season, it’s kind of have been offense first,” said Head Coach Brandon Bennett. “But tonight, our defense bailed the offense out. Newport had a helluva defense. They’ve had a helluva game plan to stop our run game.
“But the offense came in when we needed them, which is nice.”
Stottiemyre’s score came off a Cascade fumble, and after Jake Whisman’s beautiful return to go with his Punt Return for a touchdown earlier in the game, the Cougars fumbled again to give Newport one last crack at taking the lead right before halftime.
But, it seemed as if the turning point in the game came on the very next play when Elijah Nolan went Primetime as he snagged the ball out of the air and returned it deep into Cubs territory. Ethan Coffey brewed up a touchdown two plays later as the Junior Running Back scored twice in the game Thursday.
“As a defensive player only, it was great feeling today,” said Senior Devin Privratsky. “It was a great feeling to get the stops and actually play as a team and come together and know everyone has each other backs out there.
“We watched a lot of flim coming into the week. We knew exactly what they are going to do, coaches had us call out what exactly what we saw. We just had different alignments to shut them down and we knew what was going to come out and played like we knew how to do.”
Privratsky played out of position, playing Linebacker instead of Safety against Newport as Cascade stepped up when they need to against a Cubs offense that only scored under 21 points once all season.
That defense continued into the second half as Whisman and David Kanoff picked up interceptions, Coffey picked up another score and freshman Blake Lewis rushed for 70 yards on nine carries in the second half.
“Everyone did their jobs, we stayed disciplined, hit the guys low and we went out and played Cascade Football,” said Whisman, who too had a nice 25-yard catch that set up the Cougs final score of the game in the third quarter. “Coming out on defense getting those stops really gave us a really good sense of ‘We need to win this frigging game’ and we did.”
And with Philomath to close out the regular season next Friday in Philomath, and Cascade sitting 22nd in the rankings, any positive out of the game will help them when it comes to playoffs here in two weeks.
“Tonight, as coaches, we’re looking to Philomath now and if we could get that one, we’re sitting pretty on where we want to be for the postseason,” said Bennett.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald