ATHENA — On Saturday, the TigerScots hosted their first home playoff game since quarterback Dallas Reich was a toddler and the senior helped the Weston-McEwen team take advantage of the opportunity. The TigerScots (10-0, 6-0 BMC) knocked off Knappa 48-14 in the opening round of the Class 2A State Championships and will advance to play Kennedy next Saturday at 1 p.m.
“It’s been 14 years since this school has had a home playoff game and it’s the first time in my four years that we’ve gone on the to the quarterfinals,” said Reich, a senior. “It’s unbelievable, I don’t think anyone here knows how to explain it yet.”
For all the jubilation that erupted after Saturday’s victory, the TigerScots still need to refocus their energy on Kennedy (6-4, 4-1 TRC), a No. 2 seed in the playoffs and the latest challenge in Weston-McEwen’s drive toward a championship. Kennedy’s record on the year might not look like much, but the Trojans played a beastly schedule this season and beat Heppner 35-12 in their own playoff game Saturday.
The teams will meet at Mt. Angel next weekend in a tough road contest for the TigerScots.
Against Knappa (4-6, 3-2 NWL), Weston-McEwen dominated the first half, burying the Loggers up to their necks. Three different rushers picked up touchdowns in the half to go with a Reich touchdown pass as the TigerScots built a 28-0 lead going into the locker room. The game was already seemingly on ice after two quarters as no team has scored more than 20 points on the TigerScots’ defense this season.
“It’s a great win for our community,” head coach Kenzie Hansell said. “They came out to support us again the way they have all year, even with nasty weather on the forecast.”
Knappa finally got on the board in the third quarter — a 35-yard pass from quarterback Kyle Kelly to Matt White — as a light rain complemented the already windy weather. The TigerScots answered almost immediately. Running back Elliot Salter picked up his second rushing touchdown of the day just a minute of game time later. Salter finished with three total scores including one pass reception.
Not to be outdone, the Weston-McEwen defense got in on the scoring action as well. Jared Bond intercepted a wobbly pass from Knappa’s backup quarterback Austin Palek and returned the ball 36 yards for a touchdown. Bond was also the team’s leading receiver, catching four passes for 74 yards.
“When we’re vibing, we’re definitely vibing, on both sides of the ball,” Bond said.
He added a blocked punt in the game to top off an all-around solid day. Lining up in punt block formation, the defenders were licking their chops and saw an opening, he said.
“KJ (White) is a good blocker on the line and we were talking,” Bond said. “I said, ‘Pick this guy up and I think I can block this one.’ He did it and I busted right through the line untouched, dove and got that.”
Weston-McEwen doubled the offensive yards of Knappa, led by Reich who threw for 208 yards and a pair of scores and Salter who finished with 113 yards on the ground. The score could have been even more lopsided but Reich lost a fumble in the red zone on a quarterback sneak in the second quarter. Knappa recovered at their own two-yard line.
The Knappa offense stalled or turned the ball over on each drive of the first half before gaining some legs in the second half. Kelly completed a couple of long passes that helped set up the visiting team’s scores.