In a three-week stretch Cascade High School’s football team went from being the No. 1 ranked team in Class 4A to being upset by Philomath, to being on the receiving end of a forfeit by Newport and finally beating Yamhill-Carlton 49-6 for their first on-field win in weeks.
Now Cascade heads into Friday’s game at rival Stayton ranked No. 4, 5-1 and 2-1 in the Oregon West Conference.
“It’s probably the most different situation I’ve been in in coaching,” coach Steve Turner said. “When you lose, you want to play again right away, yet we couldn’t play. It’s really hard to explain. It was like a season coming to an end and having to restart it again.
“We didn’t play for 13 days and it showed against Yamhill. We had penalties. The game rust. If one guy misses a game, you don’t see it as much as if a whole team misses a game. That was different for our kids, and for our coaches, too.”
In Cascade’s Sept. 25 upset loss to Philomath, Cascade led 7-0 in the second quarter, but gave up 26 straight points and lost 26-14.
But then Newport forfeited its Oct. 2 game to Cascade due to injuries, essentially giving the Cougars a bye week.
Cascade led 29-0 after one quarter against Yamhill-Carlton Oct. 8 and was up 42-0 at halftime.
“We had some things go wrong in the Philomath game and we wanted to fix those,” Turner said. “We have an identity now offensively that we’re going to follow, and that’s good. I think we lost our identity against Philomath.”
What Cascade faces in No. 5-ranked Stayton is a team that exceeded expectations all season by starting 6-0 and 3-0 in the Oregon West Conference.
It’s been a long time since both teams were ranked in the top five in the state when they played.
“The Stayton-Cascade rivalry’s always a big one no matter what the records are,” Turner said. “It helps our league. It makes our league more competitive. I knew they were going to be a good team.”
Stayton poses a unique challenge for Cascade.
The Eagles average 211 yards per game rushing and 201 yards passing per game behind the strong arm of senior quarterback Kyle Schwarm, who has passed for 1,206 yards and 11 touchdowns.
But Stayton also leads the state by holding opponents to 29 points this season.
How do you beat a team that well balanced?
“That’s the million dollar question,” Turner said. “Their quarterback is an outstanding runner as well as passer and they have quality receivers. We have some ideas, but again it’s too early to tell if it will work on the field.”