By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– The Ben Rash-Logan Classen connection had created issues in the North Marion pass defense entering the fourth quarter in the Huskies 47-27 4A First Round victory Friday night at home.
Coming out of the halftime break up 19-7, Stayton had pulled within six to start the fourth quarter down 26-20 thanks to two such Rash-Classen connections to get the Eagles within a play of possibly taking the lead in the game.
The two deep corner fade routes, minor hiccups in their sound pass defense, is something they can improve upon entering their first Quarterfinal appearance since 1982 against Marist Catholic next Friday.
“Our pass defense is usually there all game, but we had a couple hiccups where they threw deep,” said cornerback Joe Torian. “We’re going to practice all week so we can fix it so it won’t happen again.”
Sergio Jimenez found Brady Hansen for 25-yards to push the Huskies lead back to double figures. That was short-lived as Rash and Classen found each other again for their third connection in the second half with 5:34 left with the score 33-27 off a sack and force fumble of Jimenez that they converted on.
Heart was a factor as the Eagles were just a defensive stop away from taking the lead from North Marion on the road.
“It was just heart honestly. Our guys play with heart, Coach (Randy) Nyquist taught us throughout the year. He taught us to play with heart, play with our hearts and lead with our hearts,” said Classen. “Our defense just slipped.
“I just felt like it was our defense slipping, that wasn’t coaching or anything I feel like it was just the players and we weren’t where we were suppose to be. We were making little errors that we usually don’t make.”
In a game in which the mental aspect was as crucial as the next stop, next score, the Huskies stepped up when they needed to. Striking twice more by Matthew Wheatcroft on the ground and Tanner Saucedo in the air took advantage of those Stayton errors defensively.
The Huskie defense clamped down on the Eagle offense to make sure another run by the Eagles wasn’t going to come to fruition.
“We knew what we had to do. We met up in the locker room and said that it wasn’t going to affect us, we were more ready, we’ve been working hard all week,” said Saucedo.
“For next week, we just got to come out hungry like we did this week. Cut the mental mistakes, limit the turnovers and we’ll be fine,” adds David Page, who’s running game opened up Jimenez in the passing game.
For how young Stayton was entering this season, finishing in the opening round of the 4A State Playoffs and going through a game like this was a good learning experience for those coming back in 2020. To fill the shoes left behind by the Rash’s and the Classen’s.
Classen for example, was helping leaving a mark with the secondary by giving them some words of wisdom as the Eagle season came to an end Friday night.
“We have a couple of freshman in the secondary tonight, but I just kept telling them that it’s a learning experience, you got to bounce back. You just got to have a clear head, especially as a secondary player…always have a clear head with that kind of stuff. Make sure nothing bad happens to you, just know your responsibilities,” said Classen.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald