By Jeremy McDonald
MONROE, Ore.– Monroe may have been ranked third in the recent OSAA Coaches Poll, but boy did Santiam, who received votes themselves, take the Dragons the distance.
Not just the distance, but overtime Friday night. The 34-28 overtime result in favor of Monroe showed the measuring stick in where the Wolverines were at entering Week 3.
“They’re a good team, I think we dug ourselves in a little bit of a hole but they’re definitely a good team. They’re ranked third in the coaches’ poll and we took them to overtime,” Santiam quarterback Levi Ohrt said. “We’re a good team, they’re a good team. It was a good game.”
“It shows how hard we’ve been working. It puts a lot of fire in our eyes,” adds center Mason Henness.
Some would call this game the old-fashion black-and-blue game with the running game the theme of the night. The Wolverine defense held Brody Ballard and Quinton Winsted in check during the first half while the Wolverines Trenton Stafford, with his power-running style, created more headaches than anything else.
Stafford rushed for 249 yards with three touchdowns before bowing out late in the game due to concussion symptoms. Mixed in the agility and quickness of Quentin Clark, who contributed 111 yards and a touchdown himself, the Dynamic Duo of Mill City helped Santiam build a brief 28-14 lead on the Dragons going into the fourth quarter.
“It was good, the line did good. We made a lot of mistakes, but we’ll clean that up next week,” Clark said. “It was tough, it was tough. The toughest (game) yet, they’re a pretty good team and I think we’re going to see them in the playoffs.”
Just the little things allowed the balance of the game to stay up in the air probably longer than Santiam or Monroe would’ve hoped for. The Dragons opened the fourth quarter with a kickoff return for a score and got a defensive stop before turning it around for the tying strike with 1:34 left in the game.
The Wolverines, then up 28-22 prior to the Colton Wellette-Trent Bateman touchdown strike, made the crucial two-point conversion stop to keep the game tied at 28. They marched down the field, but couldn’t strike gold before overtime.
In overtime, Santiam couldn’t find the mojo they had the first three quarters of the game that helped them build the lead they had as fatigue sank in. They kept battling, the defense nearly finding a way to force double-overtime, but a late scramble set up the game-winning Ballard touchdown to hand the Dragons their second win of the season.
“It definitely doesn’t feel great, that’s for sure,” Ohrt said. “But I think we played hard and I think we played better this game than we did our first game (against Willamina). Clean it up, play sharper and we’ll be one of the best teams in the state.”
Santiam hosts Gervais Friday to open 2A Special District 2 action.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald