Defending 5A State Champion Thurston Blazes Past 6A Power Sheldon 34-19

Eugene — In their most recent meetings, Sheldon has absolutely destroyed Thurston in every way possible. Each of their last four meetings have resulted in at least a 42 point victory for the Irish, but Friday was a much different story for the Colts, who finally came out of the shadow of Sheldon in a forceful way to send a strong message to the rest of the state.

Both teams opened this one with punts on their first drive, and Thurston struck first against the Irish. Capping an 11 play, 91 yard drive, Cade Crist delivered a beautiful pass to Caleb Scott who took it to the house for the 20 yard touchdown pass and Thurston led 7-0 with 4:55 left in the first quarter. Sheldon quickly responded with a score of their own, marching down the field in 1:02 but the Irish ended up settling for a field goal to make it 7-3 Thurston. On the next possession, Thurston faced a fourth and goal on the Sheldon two yard line, but were stiffed by the Irish defense and turned the ball over on downs and giving Sheldon a much needed swing of momentum.

The Irish would squander the opportunity and momentum, punting the ball away and Thurston quickly responded with a 25 yard touchdown pass to Ryan Schleicher to put the Colts up 14-3 with 7:18 left in the first half. Sheldon threw an interception to Dawson Muggy on their next possession, but the Irish defense came through by blocking a field goal attempt to keep it a 14-3 match. The Irish would squander yet another opportunity though, throwing another pick that setup a Santino Stranieri touchdown reception to make it 20-3 Thurston at the half.

After a Sheldon punt kicked off the second half, Thurston marched down the field and scored with Stranteri’s second touchdown reception of the night, and the Colts were up big 27-3 in the middle of the third quarter. After trading punts, Sheldon finally found the end zone with a Ben Mehlhaff touchdown, and with a successful two point conversion making it 27-11 Thurston in command. Mehlhaff would strike again in the fourth, scoring another touchdown and converting another two point conversion to make it suddenly 27-18 Colts. Thurston would hit the final nail in place down the stretch of the fourth quarter, intercepting their third pass of the evening and turning it into a touchdown run that put them up 34-18 and Thurston hung on to win 34-18 after picking off Sheldon for the fourth time on the final Irish drive.

After defeating the Irish, Thurston’s Santino Stranieri and Cade Crist talked about the victory and what it means to overcome being in Sheldon’s shadow over the last decade. Stranieri on the what the victory means for Thurston, “Its a great win, Sheldon has had Thurston for a while. Its a big win for Coach Starck who hasn’t beat Sheldon, and it feels great to do it here. Its a huge win for us.” Stranieri on Thurston’s defensive performance, “I was so proud of our boys, the front line did a great job and Sheldon had a good line. We’re proud of the big boys on the line and we had some great interceptions and we just played really good.”

Crist on the Colts offensive efficiency, “I thought the offense played great, the line did their job, the receivers did their job, and everyone just had a phenomenal night. It all came together beautifully.” Crist on defending their state championship, “We’re right there, just a little bit more work and were going to have it.” Sheldon (0-2) travels to West Linn (1-1) next Friday, Thurston (2-0) faces Crater (2-0) on the road next week in a battle of two top 5A teams.

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