By Jeremy McDonald
SHERIDAN, Ore.– It was as interesting as you could make it for what is expected to be for the 2A Special District 2 Football Championship Title.
It was a grinder with both teams challenging the other on the ground and occasionally throwing it in the air of an old-fashion 9-0 ball-game that went in favor of Sheridan by the final whistle Friday night, but it was all in the plan as the raw emotion showed by games end.
“The grinds real,” smiled Sheridan Spartan QB and safety Jacob DeBoff, who threw for 107 yards with a touchdown passing. “Every single day we’ve come out here and do what we needed to do and this is what happens when you work that hard. Last year we went 5-4 to this now, I’m just living the dream right now. I’ve never been apart of something like this.”
It’s weird to think that in a league with Kennedy and Santiam that the Spartans would be in the talks about winning the title after winning one game three years ago. But it worked out that the Wolverines and Sheridan got to this point with Santiam looking to reach the 2A State Championship game again after falling short in 2017 in the big game.
The first quarter featured defense, wait. Not featured it but set a tone for the game as it was scoreless and the Wolverines were pinned at their one-yard line to start the second quarter.
“Our defense did great, we beat them up front. We definitely had a few mishaps, we’ve had one miss pass play,” said Santiam’s Jesse Sendlinger. “(Offensively) we didn’t do our blocks, we let them get a safety and they beat us up front on offense but one defense we definitely killed them up front.”
Brody Davidson was stopped in the endzone for a safety on the first play of the second quarter that and DeBoff found Joey Daniels for 25-yards for the lone touchdown of the game that put Santiam up 9-0 with 49 seconds left in the first half.
The 9-0 halftime score left the Wolverines stunned as they tried to figure out something offensively but would have a penalty as a set-back that kept them from doing further damage.
“Eye-opener,” said Santiam O-Lineman and Linebacker Dustin Keys on the game. “We came in a little bit, I guess you could say cocky, I don’t know how to put it. We came in kind of feeling ourselves, we shot ourselves in the foot. From the get-go, we knew it was going to be a good game. If we take those penalties away, that takes away the bad field position. Bad field position takes away their early momentum and their early momentum carried them.”
Outside of that second quarter and the penalties by both teams, it was evenly matched. Davidson was eight for 58 yards, Trevor Tinney was another 15 for 54 yards for Santiam on the ground. Josh Rogers went 12 carries for 56 yards for Sheridan as both sides kept the other’s offense from getting into a familiar groove as the Spartans enter the final week of the season in the driver seat of the conference.
“Honestly, there wasn’t any holes. We had to make our own holes. It was three-yards at a time and just slowly moving the ball back-and-forth,” said DeBoff on the physicality of the game on offense. “You can’t really do anything, it was luck plays honestly.
“Honestly we had some huge mistakes, we almost fumbled the ball a couple of times. We were lucky, got on them. It was a 50/50 game and we made the plays.”
And as both teams enter the final week of the season, Santiam at home versus Colton and Culver coming to Sheridan, there’s still one more week to build some more momentum for the playoffs for these two good programs.
For the Spartans, there’s joy in knowing they are doing something that wasn’t expected in being right in this spot.
“It’s amazing, from the start of the season when everyone thought we wouldn’t get this far,” said the Spartans Kaden Eggers as the emotions rode high for Sheridan. “To have all the seniors chip in and all the underclassmen chip it, its amazing. This game is big for us, we knew that coming in they were going to be a good team and we just needed to do our thing to win.”
For the Wolverines, they were close in getting something that eluded them last year when they lost to St. Paul in the regular season. But they still hope for another ride last year and who knows, maybe they’ll be another Wolverine-Buckaroo match-up in the playoffs with Santiam and the Spartans.
“It sucks to lose. It sucks to lose, especially a game like this. Me, I was pulling for a league title, but we still have higher hopes,” said Keys. “I know my personal goals, I know everyone’s personal goals Senior-wise is to get back to that State Championship. But we have to get through these guys first and I know there’s going to be a lot of work in film Monday, we got to work.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald