Sept. 27, 2021 – Siuslaw (3-0) traveled to Gladstone on Sept. 24 and, though the Vikings were tested for the first time this season, they came home with a 15-7 victory over the Gladiators (1-3).
Held to their lowest scoring output of the season the Viking offense turned the ball over inside the Gladiator 30-yard line on three different occasions but also stopped Gladstone on their own side of the field numerous times. The game was filled with many penalties on both teams, controversial or questionable calls by the officials and plenty of drama.
The teams met at Gladstone’s picturesque Dick Baker Stadium, a shining beacon in the middle of a residential neighborhood in the suburbs of southeast Portland, the literal definition of “Friday Night Lights.”
Gladstone worked to establish its running game from the opening kickoff. At 5’9’’ 205 pounds, senior halfback Tate Brechbiel provided quite a challenge for the Siuslaw defense. Though he was able to break through a handful of times, the Viking defensive line’s resolve only strengthened as the game continued.
Defensive Coordinator Nick Johnson is known to be well prepared for whatever offensive strategy a team throws at him and his defense. Last Friday, he also showed his ability to make in-game adjustments when needed, as proven by Brechbiel’s struggle to pick up yards in the second half.
Besides containing Gladstone’s halfback, senior defensive ends Avery Hart and Rhys Fleming kept quarterback Brayde Owen from making his way outside and successfully harassed him all game.
It was a great day for linemen in general, as the offensive line also excelled.
“Anyone who knows football knows the game is won up front,” said Siuslaw Assistant Coach John Rose.
Friday night, the Viking offensive line showed why they may win a lot of ball games before this season is over.
Juniors John Rose and Julian Loftus, along with seniors Hart, Joe Slaughter and Henry Rankin, all made the “1,000 Pound Club” (or better) in the weight room during the off season and the way they opened holes for the Viking backs on Friday made their strength apparent.
Line Coach Jerry Fleming has one of the toughest offensive lines in the state. A battle in the trenches like Siuslaw had on Sept. 24 proved that. The highlight of their display of strength was the handful of “pancake blocks” delivered by defensive captain, Rankin.
“The line has been playing well for three weeks now,” said Rose. “They set the tempo for the game and their strength showed when we needed to run up the middle.”
After neither team scored in the first half, senior Camp Lacouture continued racking up points for the Vikings at a momentous pace when he scored from 9-yards out. He kicked in the extra point also to make it 7-0 Siuslaw.
Lacouture would run in a two-point conversion later in the game to give him nine points on the day and a team-leading 44 points for the season.
Like the first quarter, neither team scored in the third. In the fourth, with 9:44 to go, it was 4th down for Gladstone with 15 yards to go. Gladiator quarterback Owen made a clutch throw and hit Hayden Smith for the touchdown. After an extra point kick, the score was tied 7-7.
The Vikings immediately answered. Senior quarterback Beau Erickson capped off a nine-play, 65-yard drive by running it in from two yards for the touchdown. Lacouture ran in the conversion and Siuslaw led 15-7 with 5:58 to go.
On the next drive, the Gladiators failed to gain the necessary yards for a first down and surprised the home fans by punting to the Vikings with very little time remaining for them to attempt to tie the game. The visiting fans, however, had reason to celebrate as their team did not allow Gladstone to even get the ball back. The proverbial “dagger” was a 9-yard reception by senior Braydon Thornton on 4th down with 3:12 to play to give the Viks a first down and a clear path to victory.
Unquestionably, Siuslaw faced the most adversity they have thus far this season. Unlike the first two games of the season, victory was not in hand till late in the fourth.
“When it’s as close as this last one, our boys have to stay positive and keep their heads in the game,” said Rose. “Gladstone was tough, and they were fast. We made some mistakes, but we were able to ‘flush it’ and stay on track.”
Defending 3A champions, Cascade Christian (1-1) of Medford, comes to town on Friday. The Challengers will most likely be the biggest challenge the Viks have faced this season. Coming off a 41-16 loss, at home, to Marist (4-0), they will be motivated to use the game to get back on track to their own goals for the season.
In other high school football games around the state, Henley (4-0) took care of La Pine (1-2) 16-12. Junction City (2-0) crushed league rival Pleasant Hill (0-3) 52-6. Santiam Christian (2-1) blanked Sisters (0-3) 35-0. SHS’s opening night opponent North Valley (3-1) beat Elmira (1-2) 35-12 and Reedsport (2-1) got a big win over Rogue River (1-2) 45-6.
The Vikings can use the whole town’s support for their huge matchup Friday, Oct. 1, versus defending 3A champions Cascade Christian at 7 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance at www.siuslaw.k12.or.us/o/siuslaw-high-school/page/siuslaw-on-line-ticketing