STAYTON – The Cougars stopped caring about where they are and found out who they are.
The No. 4-ranked Cascade High School football team showed it’s a team that can assert its will on opponents in all aspects of the game.
Whether it was running the ball heavily to wear down No. 6-ranked Stayton’s stellar defense Friday night, getting big plays in the passing game or locking down on defense, the Cougars proved to themselves that they are still the force they should be with a 31-7 win Friday night.
What they demonstrated to the rest of the state is that they’re a resilient bunch that belongs among the top teams in the state.
“It wasn’t about Stayton tonight,” Cascade coach Steve Turner said. “It was about ourselves. We had some things to prove to ourselves, and that was the theme. We needed to walk the talk. I think we did tonight.”
Since a loss to Philomath early in the league season, Cascade has been playing like it has something to prove.
The Cougars proved that they can run the ball at will and dominate the time of possession.
Senior running back Garrett Coffey rushed for 277 of Cascade’s 329 yards and a touchdown on a staggering 39 carries.
“We came in with a chip on our shoulder so we’re not really worried about rankings,” said senior cornerback James Baxter, who had an interception. “That’s not important to us anymore.
“It was until the Philomath game, which I think it was good for us to lose to Philomath. I guess we were a little overconfident and so it actually helped us a lot because we’re playing to how we’re supposed to play so that’s good.”
Cascade moves into a tie with Stayton for second place in the Oregon West Conference at 3-1 – both teams are 6-1 overall – and Cascade becomes Stayton’s biggest fan.
While Cascade hosts North Marion (2-2 Oregon West) in next week’s regular season finale, Stayton plays at Philomath (4-0 Oregon West) and can create a three-way league championship if the Eagles can pull off an upset.
“We have to learn from losing, and that’s one thing we haven’t done this year, and we’re going to find out what kind of character and what kind of moxie we have on the inside, what we’re built of,” Stayton coach Andy Campbell said.
“Philomath is a solid football team and we’re going to have to be ready to get in a street fight again, just like we were this time around, but we have to capitalize.”
It was the big plays that staked the Cougars a big lead.
Lucas Bjorklund kicked a 33-yard field goal and on the next drive caught a 60-yard bomb of a pass from John Schirmer, and Cameron Molan’s run for a 2-point conversion put Cascade up 11-0.
But Stayton is a team with big-play potential whenever strong-armed senior quarterback Kyle Schwarm is on the field.
Schwarm hit Everett St. Clair down the left sideline for a 67-yard touchdown three plays later to cut the Eagles’ deficit to 11-7.
“We just needed to keep (Schwarm) off the field pretty much on offense for just as much as we could,” Schirmer said. “I have all the respect for him in the world.
“I’ve played him since I was fifth grade, sixth grade, whatever. We just had to keep them contained as much as we could.”
Schirmer hit Molan for a 15-yard touchdown and an 18-7 lead, but a 50-yard pass from Schwarm to St. Clair gave Stayton the ball on the 5-yard line with under a minute left in the first half.
Cascade’s Hunter Thomas intercepted Schwarm at the 1-yard line to keep it a two-possession game at halftime.
“All turnovers sting,” Campbell said. “There’s never a good time for one. Sometimes those are 14-point swings. We got to do a better job of handling adversity. They’re just a winning program that does those things right.”
Cascade set the tone coming out of halftime.
After holding Stayton to a three-and-out, Cascade went on a 16-play, 75-yard drive that drained more than eight minutes off the clock before Coffey ran for a 5-yard touchdown.
As the game progressed Coffey’s two- and three-yard runs turned into six- and seven-yard runs and Stayton had no answer for him.
“I think he’s got that mindset coming in that he’s going to do good, but it’s such a feel of the game, and he’s such a gamer,” Schirmer said. “He’s so competitive.
“He sees something once and he’s going to make them make a mistake the next play. He just reads so well and then just keeps it going and gets going harder and harder.”
As important as extending its winning streak to three games for Cascade was the confidence the Cougars earned in defeating its rival.
“We haven’t been playing our best football lately and we did not want to lose to Stayton,” Coffey said. “It’s our rivalry. Our line did great tonight, everyone worked their butts off and we played Cougar football.”
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Cascade 31, Stayton 7
CAS– Bjorklund 33 field goal 9:51.
CAS– Bjorklund 60 pass from Schirmer (Molan run) 6:06.
STA– St. Clair 67 pass from Schwarm (Hernandez kick) 5:22.
CAS– Molan 15 pass from Schirmer (Bjorklund kick) 1:29.
CAS– Coffey 5 run (Bjorklund kick) 3:25.
CAS– Schirmer 2 run (pass fail) 11:16.
Rushing– Cascade: Coffey 39-277-1, Schirmer 5-31-1, Roninger 3-9, Thomas 2-8, Schnepp 1-6, Baxter 1-0, Team 1- -2. Stayton: Schwarm 14-52, Dailey 4-32.
Passing– Cascade: Schirmer 8-11-89-2. Stayton: Schwarm 10-21-2-227-1.
Receiving– Cascade: Bjorklund 1-60-1, Molan 2-23-1, Braff 1-9, Thomas 1-6, Baxter 1- -2. Stayton: St. Clair 2-117-1, Diehl 5-73-1, Hill 1-16, Weeks 2-3.