Corvallis — It was an unusual night at Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis, where a seemingly business as usual night at the football field was flipped upside down. For Lebanon, it mean’t yet another battle with adversity, a word you could use to accurately describe the roller coaster they have faced this season. However, the Warriors overcame adversity to accomplish something much greater for themselves, their community, and a teammate that fell victim to the violent sport that is football.
Lebanon started the game hot, taking no time at all to get on the board with Brock Barrett carrying the ball in from six yards out to get the Warriors on top 7-0 with 9:18 left in the opening quarter. After a Crescent Valley punt, Lebanon was on the brink of quickly making it 14-0 when the Raiders came through with a huge stop on fourth and goal at the goal line, giving Crescent Valley possession deep in their own zone. After trading punts, Crescent Valley faced a fourth and long after some penalties knocked them backwards at around the Lebanon 30. Lining up for a field goal attempt, Crescent Valley faked it and went for a first down, but they were shut down by a fierce Lebanon defense on downs.
Taking advantage of the newly found momentum, Lebanon marched down the field and put an exclamation point on it with a college style QB option play by Cole Weber, who pitched it to Landon Kinsling for six after he put on a spin move to finish off the run with a score. Crescent Valley turned around and threw an interception on their next possession, setting up the Warriors to make it a three score game, starting on the Crescent Valley 41. Lebanon would give the Raiders a mulligan though, as Cole Weber overthrew his man deep on the right sideline and Cam Hemzacek flew out of nowhere to intercept it and put the Raiders back into it on offense.
The first half wasn’t kind to the Raiders on offense though, as Crescent Valley would give it right back on the next play with Kai Garber overthrowing his man right into the arms of Austin Roles, picking up his second interception in less than two minutes and giving Lebanon another offensive opportunity. Cole Weber would capitalize with a high throw to Brayden Currey, who hauled it in for the touchdown, putting Lebanon ahead 21-0 at the half.
In desperate need to stay in the game, Crescent Valley executed a pair of third down conversions on their way to a Kade Hunnemuller touchdown rush, getting the Raiders on the board with an eight spot after the successful two point conversion. On the next possession, Lebanon made a mistake coughing up the ball, resulting in Kade Hunnemuller recovering to get the Raiders back on the field offensively. This turned into six points on a Kai Garber toss to Walker Riney in the corner of the end zone, cutting it suddenly from 21-0 to 21-15 in a blink of an eye.
Lebanon would punt on the next possession, and with Crescent Valley driving again, a scary moment occurred with a Lebanon player colliding helmet to helmet on defense. After he stood up, he immediately collapsed back to the turf, resulting in a mass response of athletic trainers and coaches. After being down for almost five minutes, Corvallis Fire Rescue was dispatched and the player was transported off the field on a stretcher and transported by ambulance by Corvallis Fire Rescue. This resulted in a delay of nearly 30 minutes, with a whole stadium holding their breath the entire time.
After play resumed, Crescent Valley punted but the defense had another turnover in the works. In a play that seemed like it was out of NFL Blitz, Crescent Valley’s Cam Hemzacek spearheaded the ball with his helmet, forcing a wild fumble that was recovered by Trevor Adams and setup the Raiders in great field position again. Facing fourth down near the end zone, Kai Garber faced pressure that forced him to throw an errant pass into a group of players, resulting in an incomplete pass and a turnover on downs.
Lebanon would capitalize on the fourth down stop, with Cole Weber faking the pitch on an option play, instead taking it in himself for the score and extending the lead to 28-15. Crescent Valley responded in a big way, with Kai Garber drilling Walker Riney with a deep pass down the right sideline for a touchdown, making it 28-22 with less than four minutes left. After a defensive stop, the Raiders had two timeouts and a little over two minutes left, but Kai Garber couldn’t be the hero against a motivated Warriors defense, who intercepted his pass for a third time on the night and effectively sealed the game with Keith Brown’s touchdown run on the next drive. The Warriors would go on to win it 35-22, clinching a playoff berth and overcoming adversity that had dogged them at times during the season.
Overwhelmed with emotions, Lebanon’s Austin Roles, Cole Weber, and Landon Kisling all discussed the Warriors win, the adversity they faced, and finding consistency heading into the playoffs.
Cole Weber describing how the match went down for Lebanon, “We started the game really well, really strong on the first drive, I thought he was going to score on that first play. They stopped us at the goal line on that second drive, that was like a seven or 14 point swing on that one play because they almost went down and scored. Our defense played great in the first half, they didn’t give up any points. Coming out in the second half with a big lead has been tough for us this year, but this time we handled it, and we got what we came here for, we got the W.”
Austin Roles on finding consistency on the field, “Its about working together as a team, team is definitely what is involved, and we need to find what is inside each other and pull through. We need to work the fundamentals, keep working on the little things and grinding it out.”
Landon Kisling on battling adversity, “We were up 21-0 at the half and we just had to grind the rest of it out. We played it all for Jose, who left us tonight, and we just hope to God that he’s okay and we came out with the W which is all we care about.”