On Friday (April 2), the Mapleton’s football team traveled to Perrydale to take on the Pirates for the Sailors’ final away game — and an explosive 44-6 victory.
“We felt like champions this week,” said Mapleton coach Jeff Greene. “It was a good game, especially for some of our young kids on the line; they’re starting to get more aggressive. When you don't have a lot of experience, it's that fear you’ve got to overcome; you’ve got to figure out how to how to play the game.”
Greene made mention of several of his players who have had major growth this season. Among them, Jeff Bernhardt who “did a really nice job,” Mason Flansberg with some key blocks that led to touchdowns, Jeremy Bender, who overcame a knee injury from last year and is “getting tackles and being aggressive,” And Seth Johnston with two quarterback sacks.
The Sailors came out strong from the get-go, receiving the ball and scoring almost immediately. According to Greene, it was one of the team’s best passing games yet.
“We didn't really run the ball that much,” said Greene. All told, Mapleton had fewer than 75 yards rushing but made up for it with 227 yards from the air.
“AJ Moso got our first touchdown from about 25 yards out with JJ Neece throwing to him,” said Greene.
Next, Joe Shepard got a touchdown on a screen pass from 10 yards out to put Mapleton ahead 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
In the next quarter, Jeff Bernhardt rushed the Pirates’ quarterback and, after being hit, their quarterback threw the ball as he was going down. The half-hearted pass went straight to Moso on the defensive end, with Moso running it back 94 yards for the pick six.
Greene explained that this was a key point for breaking Perrydale’s momentum.
“Perrydale threw that long pick, and that kind of broke them,” said Greene. “Instead of being 14-6 it ended up being 20-0 and you could tell it hurt the momentum.”
After this, the Sailors did a trick play allowing Neece to score from 55 yards out.
“It was a double pass,” said Greene. “We handed it off to Jeremy, he pitched it to AJ, then AJ threw it across the field to JJ and he ran 55 yards for the score to make it 26-0.”
Mapleton was able to score once more before the end of the second quarter, bringing the score to 32-0 at the half.
In the third quarter, the Sailors were able to get a stop immediately, regaining possession of the ball. Mapleton the spread out its offense, faked a play and went up the middle.
“Since we had been going outside a lot of times, that middle was wide open,” said Greene. Neece ran 55 yards for the score to make it is 38, then scored on another run play, bringing the score to 44-0 by the end of the third quarter.
Perrydale was finally able to score at the very end of the game, bringing the ending score to 44-6.
Greene explained that, this week, the Sailors’ defense really helped to bring them the win.
“I think we had a really good scheme that week,” said the coach. “Perrydale’s [players] were really big; they looked like Tarzan, but they didn't play like Tarzan — and our kids were a little more aggressive than they were.”
After a season with so many changes and cancellations, the Sailors were glad to have a solid win and, hopefully, that energy and momentum will carry over into this week’s final scheduled match at home against Falls City/Kings Valley.
“[Perrydale] was a much-needed game,” said Greene, “because last week our game got canceled, and we had that Waldport taste in our mouth and we wanted to get rid of it. [On Friday], we're going into our last game of the year. It's senior night, and it's a lot of lasts for a lot of people.”
For Greene, who marked his 20th season as coach this year, it's will be his last game as head coach for the Sailors.
“And it might be the last game for the football program unless we get more kids,” Greene added. “I don't even know if we’ll have enough for six-man next year. I hope we do, but I won't be there. Brian Moore has coached with me for 20 plus years, and this will be his last game too. And of course, for our seniors, this will be their last game.”
In all, Greene said he was pleased that the Sailors had the opportunities they did this season, and the win made it all the more enjoyable.
“It was a good game for our kids,” said Greene. “They don't have a whole lot to celebrate this year, and I'm just glad these kids got to have some fun. We got to spread the ball around quite a bit, and people got a lot of touches, some guys on defense got some sacks, and it was great.”
The Sailors’ final game of the season, which is also Senior Night, is at home this Friday starting at 7 p.m.