Is Dayton Back?

By Jeremy Mcdonald

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore.–  It was Tristan McGann’s time to shine and he wasn’t about to let his senior teammates down in the 3A State Semi-Finals against Cascade Christian.  The sophomore quiet frankly took over the game with 148 combined yards and a touchdown, rushing for 87 yards and picking up 61 yards through the air in what became a tight Final Four bout at Cottage Grove High School Saturday afternoon.

“It was a big opportunity, man.  We got our playmakers, Nate Arce, Zach Smith, they know how they play.  They play tough, we got a tough O-Line and sometimes it’s Nate’s day, sometime’s it’s Smitty’s day and today happened to be my dad and I had to step up.  We didn’t get the job done, but we did all we could and we knew that,” McGann said.

The rushing attack was both Dayton’s biggest ally and yet their biggest opposition.  Fumbles hurt, but they were able to move the rock on a juggernaut Challenger defense.  Rushing for a combined 299 yards and were driving looking to score down 28-20 with 5:52 left in the game.

Seems weird that three, four years ago that the Pirates were significantly down.  A three-win team when current-Head Coach Jacob Peterson took over, and now here they were.  First time since the 2013-14 season that they were in the 3A State Semi-Finals.  

Dayton finishes the season 9-3 and reached their first 3A State Semi-Finals since 2013-14 (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Dayton couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity as they had in the first half as Cascade Christian began to pull away from the Pirates.  But regardless of the 42-20 result, it does raise the question if Dayton back to form and are back?

“It’s amazing to see,” said a teary-eyed Ethan Hedgecock, a senior lineman on the team.  “We had Smitty step up, Tristan McGann step up.  It’s just crazy to see these young guys, who I never thought  helping out in a Semi-Finals run, it’s crazy to see how a couple of coaches can do for a whole program.  We owe it all to them.  We were there, they helped us get there every step of the way.  Pushing us in every aspect of the game and helping us get better as a team.”

“It’s a big deal and I hope they’re ready for us to come back and win it all.  We’re not leaving, we’re not going anywhere. We’ll come right back,”adds McGann.  “They’re going to underestimate us since we got this giant senior class and we’ll come right back.”

McGann also contributed three tackles defensively.  Morgan Gallagher led the defense with nine tackles.  Arce led the offensive with 103 yards.


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