By Ethan Fitzgerald -- Staff Writer/Student
Photo by Jon Benjamin
On what was by far the coldest Friday night this football season, the Oregon City Pioneers played host to the Thurston Colts in what determined who advanced to the second round of the OSAA State Playoffs. Under the lights of the bitterly cold Pioneer Memorial Stadium, the Colts pulled it off down the stretch and defeated the Pioneers, 30-28, ending the Pioneers’ season.
It didn’t take long for Thurston to capitalize Oregon City mistakes, as Thurston senior Wade Perry scored a defensive touchdown on a botched hand off by the Pioneers on their own 1-yard line. Thurston later intercepted the ball midway into the first quarter, putting the Colts in position to score on an 18-yard rush, making the score 12-0 early in the game.
Despite being down by 12 points early, the Pioneers came back and scored on a 19-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Austin Whitton to junior Nick Martin to start the second quarter scoring for both teams. Following another touchdown by the Colts, making the score 18-7, the Pioneers fired back on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Whitton to junior Matthew Oades.
The score going into halftime was 18-14, in favor of the Colts, who, at one point, seemed to be running away with the game, only to be surprised by a strong 14 points racked up by the Pioneers in the second quarter.
To start the second half, Pioneer senior halfback Mitch Thompson, a pulverizing force in the Three Rivers League, scored on a 5-yard run, giving the Pioneers their first lead of the game, 21-18. This touchdown was Thompson’s last score wearing a Pioneer uniform, adding to what has been a strong run for the quick-cutting halfback. Pioneer head coach Kevin Strasser said this about his star senior: “At the Three Rivers League meeting, there wasn’t even a question who was going to be the player of the year. The decision was unanimously Mitch. That’s the kind of respect he demanded from our league.”
Following the Pioneer score, the Colts added two more touchdowns between the third and fourth quarters, as the Pioneers were only able to score on what was truly an amazing 75-yard kick return touchdown by junior Nick Martin.
Coach Strasser summed up the Pioneers’ season as “a productive and good season overall, unfortunately there was a little bit too much of a roller coaster-type feeling to it.” Later, Strasser made sure to point out that “we increased our standing in league—we beat West Linn.”