Elmira d Mapleton
Sept. 11, 2019 — The Siuslaw Vikings lost by an inch at Elmira on Friday night after a tense back and forth game that almost saw the Viks taking away a season-opening victory.
“Friday’s game was really hard fought,” Viks quarterback Elijah Blankenship said.” I felt that everyone did a really good job, a big improvement from last year. Everyone really put their hearts out there. It’s definitely a different feel than last year. Last year, I felt that games were really lopsided, so people were kind of out of it for the first couple of quarters. This game was different. It was really nice to be a part of.”
The Viks were hungry for a win against the top ranked 4A Falcons, first and foremost because they wanted to see how they could match-up against a tough opponent and “…see where we’re at,” Blankenship said. There was also some David and Goliath dreams as well.
“They had an interview where they were talking about how they were going to be undefeated this season,” he said. “That really gave us fire to beat them, we really wanted to ruin that for them.”
But ruining that would be a challenge, particularly after the Viks fumbled the ball after the first-quarter kickoff.
“That was a real bummer,” Blankenship said, but the team didn’t let it get to them. The defense held, and what took place next was a back and forth battle that saw Siuslaw always just a few points from the lead.
At half time, the Viks were up 18-15. It was at that point that Siuslaw dug in and took the lead – by 11 points.
“It was really nice,” Blankenship said. “A lot of us had never really experienced being in the lead in a high school football game. My freshman year, we had a good game against Brookings and had a lead in that game — and it was the first time I ever felt that in high school. Not feeling it again until our junior year, you kind of forget what it feels like.
“I know it’s cliche to say this, but it was really fun. None of us had fun in a football game in a really long time.”
With lead in hand, the Viks slowed things down to eat the clock.
“I think it helped in a way, because we took a lot of time off the clock,” Blankenship said. “But at the same time, we’re more of a fast-paced team, and we do a lot better when we’re going fast. So, our offense didn’t work as well.”
The Falcons were able to score two touchdowns, taking the lead, 30-26. On the Viks’ possession, they advanced to their own 20-yard line and began a slow drive, gaining two yards. Then a pass interference put the Viks on their own 37-yard line.
“Their defense started freaking out after that call because they had gotten 8 pass interferences that game,” said Blankenship. In fact, one Falcon player received another personal foul that advanced the Viks an additional 15 yards. A few plays later and with 30 seconds left on the clock, Siuslaw was poised 5 yards away from Elmira’s end zone.
Unfortunately, a false-start call kicked the Viks back another 5 yards to the 10. They ran a pass play which the Falcons blocked, leaving 15 seconds left.
Siuslaw ran another pass play and it looked like the Viks were going to make it.
“And then I got sacked from behind on the fourth down.”
The Falcons took over on downs and dropped to a knee, running the clock out.
“It was crushing,” Blankenship said, pointing out that the starters who pretty much played the whole game were all disappointed. “A lot of crying going on, you would have thought we had lost the state championship after that game. We just haven’t been that close in a long time.”
But they were close.
“And that was good. It gave us fire for this week. Everyone is super hyped for Philomath, so I feel like that will be a really good game for us,” Blankenship said.
As for what he felt the team did well, Blankenship deferred to defense.
“Hector Garcia and Dayson Foglio were great in making some crucial tackles. And Brady Libby had a pick-6 at the end of the quarter, gave us a lot of life,” said Blankenship, who also praised the offense, calling it “greatly improved from last year,” allowing him plenty of time to throw.
Despite the loss, Blankenship said he was far from discouraged.
“I definitely feel Siuslaw football is back,” he said. “The energy is really high. Sam [Johnson] brings a lot of energy to the team. There’s a lot of confidence and everybody is ready to get after it every day.”
The team is not going to let distractions get in the way, with the team wanting to play the game on its own terms. If other teams our freaking out about something, we just keep calm and do our stuff,” Blankenship said, pointing out that they need to look at the season game by game. “We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves overlooking an opponent. We’re expecting to make playoffs, and we’re just wanting to bring Siuslaw football back. That’s our biggest goal.
“We want the community back involved with everything and everyone just having a good time around football.”
Siuslaw’s next game will be this Friday, on the road at Philomath High School, beginning at 7 p.m. The Viks’ first home game will be a non-league match-up with Newport next week, Sept. 20.