Oct. 11, 2021 — Viking fans are growing used to the Siuslaw football team keeping them on the edge of their seats and Oct. 8 was more of the same. The Vikings overcame a barrage of third quarter scores from the Hawks and beat La Pine (2-3, 1-1 SD2N) 34-26. For the third straight game, Siuslaw’s (5-0, 3-0 SD2N) margin of victory was eight points or less.
With the win, the Vikings remain undefeated and in first place in the North Division of Special District 2, a half-game ahead of Junction City (4-0, 2-0 SD2N).
The Vikings got the ball first and methodically drove the field, chewing up almost half of the first quarter with a 5:16 drive to score the first touchdown of the game, a rush by senior Camp Lacouture to make the score 6-0.
Three minutes later, Lacouture scored again with a 2-yard run to make it 12-0 Siuslaw.
La Pine answered with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Colton Campbell to Haakon Hanson to cut the Viking lead in half, 12-6.
Siuslaw went up 20-6 when senior Beau Erickson hit classmate Isaac Garza with an 8-yard touchdown pass followed by a successful 2-point conversion.
La Pine mounted a furious rally in the third quarter, scoring three touchdowns, highlighted by a long 45-yard touchdown pass, again from Campbell to Hanson.
This meant La Pine had the lead going into the fourth quarter, 26-20.
The Vikings’ deficit could have been worse if not for two touchdown-saving tackles by senior James Smith.
This shocked the home crowd, because on both occasions it appeared all hope was lost and the Hawks were on their way to scores.
Smith was also a little astounded by his own performance.
“I’ll be honest, I was a little surprised myself,” he said. “It was sort of an instinct thing where I was like, ‘I’ve got to go get this guy.’ I know I’m quick. I run track with some amount of success. That guy definitely gave me a literal run for my money.”
Erickson snuck into the endzone less than two minutes into the fourth to tie the score 26-26.
La Pine attempted a fake punt at about the 7:05 mark and failed, turning the ball over to the Vikings on downs. The Vikings then drove the remaining 41 yards and Lacouture ran in from the 1 yard line for the deciding touchdown. He also ran in the 2-point conversion to make the score 34-26.
The Viking defense stopped the Hawks on fourth down with 1:20 to play and successfully ran out the clock from there.
Fourth quarter drama is becoming the norm for the Viking football team. Luckily, when a team is well coached, they are ready for situations just like these.
“When a team starts coming back on you, it's a bit of a ‘What’s not working? Where are we softening up?” said Smith. “It definitely is discouraging, but one thing Coach Fleming and Coach Sam Johnson say is that you have to love the guy next to you and trust that they're going to do their job. I know on the other side of the defense that Camp is doing whatever he can to make sure nothing comes out his way. I know that Braydon (Thornton) and Isaac have my back as cornerbacks and that they won't give up the deep ball. I also know that Ian Sissel won't let runs go up the middle. Without being able to count on each other, we'd never win a game.”
With the win, the Vikings continue marching towards their goal: the 3A State Championship.
“To put it simply, the end goal has always been a ring,” said Smith. “Before Coach Johnson came to Siuslaw, Braydon texted him and said, ‘Come win a state championship with us.’ It's been our goal since day one with him. To be 12-0 at the end of the season, you have to win one game at a time.”
In the Special District 2 North Division game of the week, undefeated Junction City crushed Santiam Christian, 42-13.
In an intersectional match-up with statewide implications, 4A #3 Marshfield met 3A #1 Rainier on a neutral field in Cottage Grove. The day after he received a scholarship offer from Division 1 Portland State, Marshfield quarterback Dom Montiel threw 5 touchdown passes and the Pirates helped their fellow coastal school, the Viks, by downing the Columbians 43-16.
The loss by Rainier allowed Siuslaw to move up to the top spot in the OSAA 3A rankings.
Next week’s opponent, Pleasant Hill, lost a close one to Sisters, 28-26. Last week’s opponent Cascade Christian beat St. Mary’s 35-7. Siuslaw’s former rivals to the south, Reedsport, won by forfeit over Illinois Valley, 1-0.
Both the JC Tigers and Siuslaw Viks sit undefeated, each with two games remaining before the Oct. 29 showdown between the two teams in Junction City. If both teams’ records remain unblemished, this match-up would be a quasi-Special District 2 North Division Championship Game and will determine who is the #1 seed from the league in the state playoffs.
This week’s game is a rare Thursday game. On Oct. 14, the Vikings host the Pleasant Hill Billies at 7 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance at www.siuslaw.k12.or.us/o/siuslaw-high-school/page/siusla.w-on-line-ticketing.