By Jeremy McDonald
HILLSBORO, Ore.– When Kennedy took the ball over after Brody Ballard’s second touchdown rush of the game and the second half that had Monroe up 12-7 on the Trojans, the butterflies and nerves were there of course.
But, as they began to march down the field in their 14-12 comeback win, the confidence was there.
“There were a lot of nerves but it was mostly butterflies because we practice this every single day. Every single day we go into a formation, practice two-minute drill and on Friday’s we run through it,” said Bruce Beyer. “So we know what we’re going to do in the two minutes.”
Standing in front of them was a defense just a stout as theirs in the Dragons. Kennedy’s defense did what they had to do to keep the 40-plus point offense to these 12 for a chance to win the game and here they were.
Five turnovers combined were forced in the first half that saw the Trojans led 7-0 at the half, a Dylan Kleinschmit one-yard strike. But Kleinschmidt saw two of his passes picked to his defense forcing three lose balls from Zach Young, recovering one, and the Trojan defense too forced two interceptions of Ballard during the opening half.
But as the seconds ticked off the game clock at Hillsboro Stadium, and so did the yards. Going from their own 41, converting a crucial fourth-down to keep the drive alive. Eventually Brady Trager got the ball from Kleinschmit on a play that started on the Monroe 27, the six-foot 210-pound Tight End drove to the goal line before being brought down.
With 41 seconds remaining in the game, Trager was ruled in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
“Everyone did their job, I had to drive. It happened to be me, but it could’ve been anyone to catch the ball,” said Traeger. “(Monroe) showed us that if we just keep fighting, we have a chance at the end of the game. They’re a great offense, they’ve scored 40-something points every game and shut them down to 12.
“It showed us that if we fight, we can stay in it any day. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”
Imagine losing two players to Oregon State and the offensive player of the year entering this season from their 2A State Finals win last year and getting back to this point. Incredible feat by far for the Kennedy squad.
However, works still to be done. They’re back to the State Title game against the winner of Heppner-Knappa and when practice starts here on the other side of the weekend, it’s back to work.
“This game was 15-12 and their a really good team, we felt like we left a lot of points on the board. We turned it over in the red-zone a couple of times and got stopped,” said Beyer. “We know we can get there and drive in, we just need to finish things out.”
Beyer rushed for 117 yards and eight tackles to the Dragon’s Zach Young’s 167 yards on 25 carries with six tackles as Monroe collected 281 yards on the ground.
Kleinschmit was 4-for-12 with a touchdown and 69 yards passing. Traeger collected a game-high 14 tackles to Monroe’s Dylan Irwin’s 10 tackles.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald