By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– When Cascade’s Shawn Kuenzi sprinted down the sideline during his 66-yard touchdown scamper, brushing off a few Marist Catholic defenders along the way, the Cougar Junior was looking for whatever he could to help spark his Cascade team.
“That felt great, I wanted that touchdown,” laughed Kuenzi. “I saw them coming and I knew I had to do something. Juked them, stiff-arm them and got it…I’m just trying to get people pumped up, I knew we had to fight. I kept telling people to push through it, give it all on the field.
“(Marist) is one of the toughest teams. We knew we had to change a couple of things there in the second half. We came out, we gave it our all and we fought. Now we know what we’re trying to face, we got to get a little bit better.”
The Spartans proved why they are one of the best, if not the best, team in 4A this year and would be contending for a State Title in a normal year. Jumping out to a quick 21-0 lead entering the second quarter.
Frustrations were there for the Cougars hands down. Four possessions in the red-zone went without a score, one a missed field goal. Leaving upwards of 24 points off the board that could’ve turned the 35-21 game around. Add in two punt situation mishaps that led to a Marist Catholic touchdown, teams could have easily folded up shop and called it a week.
But surely, the relatively young Cascade team hung with the Sparts. Limiting the big plays that hurt them for two touchdowns, a 65-yard un from Lucas Tuski and a 63-yard strike from Joey Laing-to-Hagan Stevenson in the first quarter, defensively. Slowing the Spartan offense to a crawl in a mud pit in a sense with the Cougs aggressive style.
“They hit us in the mouth early in the game. We just got together as a team and said ‘look, the game is not over. But we got to pick it up soon or else it will be’,” said Hage.
Hage got Cascade on the board with a 13-yard run with 2:02 left in the half. Hage would finish with 10 carries for 47 yards and 10-for-18 passing for 247 yards with a rushing and passing touchdown to Kuenzi. David Kanoff added a four-yard score with 2:07 left in the third as the Cougars entered the fourth down 35-21.
Defense continued to do well, Cascade seeing Lance Van Hoose collecting two of the Cougars four sacks Friday night. Blake Lewis and Trenton Wymore each had a sack each as Cascade had two chances in the fourth quarter to pull within a score of Marist with an offense that delivered them to the RedZone, but couldn’t finish opportunities.
It was a measuring stick to see where they are at. With the exception of Kanoff, everyone else on the Cougar roster will be returning in the Fall.
“I think it’s a really good measuring stick. They’re a really good football team, we just had way too many little mistakes…we’ll have to clean that up and we’ll see from there,” Hage said.
Tuski finished with 132 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns for the Spartans. Kuenzi had 107 yards receiving on four receptions and 53 yards on eight carries. Collin Smittle contributed 129 yards receiving on seven receptions
Photos By Jeremy McDonald