Trojans earn a second shot at Tri-River rival
BY PETE MARTINI • STATESMAN JOURNAL • NOVEMBER 29, 2009
With a 21-14 victory Saturday at Liberty High against Knappa, the Trojans' journey has carried them to the OSAA Class 2A state championship game and a rematch against Tri-River Conference rival Scio.
"I think it's awesome for the players to have this joy," Traeger said. "It's not just the game, but everything that goes along with it. Those are the extras that they get to put into the memory basket."
Scio beat Lost River 46-3 in the other Class 2A semifinal game Saturday.
Kennedy will face Scio at 2:15 p.m. Dec. 5 at Hillsboro Stadium. Scio won the Tri-River championship, and Kennedy finished second. Scio beat the Trojans 14-7 on Oct. 16 at Kennedy.
"We feel pretty good about it," Kennedy's Nick Theimer said about the championship game. "But both teams are very good."
For the second week in a row, Kennedy beat a team it lost to during the regular season. The Trojans lost 56-18 to Knappa in the second week. Last week, Kennedy beat Heppner 7-0 after losing 30-23 in the season opener.
"We take pride in playing nonconference teams that are very good," Traeger said. "We are a defensive-oriented team because we play teams that run the wing. If you can defend the wing, you can be successful."
Trojans senior Derek Barth had 169 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns.
Barth caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from junior Derek Traeger on a third-and-17 to give the Trojans a 6-0 lead midway through the second quarter. The extra-point attempt was no good, and Kennedy took a 6-0 lead into halftime.
With 7:27 left in the third quarter, Knappa took a 7-6 lead after Cody Strickland connected with Trevor Oja for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Kennedy answered with a 2-yard touchdown run by Barth. Franky Rodriguez then converted the two-point conversion to give Kennedy a 14-7 lead.
The Trojans increased their lead to 21-7 when Rodriguez scored on a 3-yard touchdown run with 3:03 left.
Knappa answered with a 34-second, 65-yard drive, capped by Bryan Sablan's 17-yard touchdown reception, to cut Kennedy's lead to 21-14.
The Trojans recovered the ensuing onside-kick attempt, then ran out the clock.
"It feels really good," Barth said. "Our confidence is the highest it's ever been."
With the victory, Kennedy improves to 9-4. The Trojans have won nine of their past 10 games. The only loss during that stretch was to Scio, which is 13-0.
In the state playoffs, Scio has outscored its opponents 154-22. Scio's closest game this season overall was the 14-7 victory against Kennedy.
Traeger said the team will stay level-headed.
"We're definitely confident," Traeger said. "But the crown of victory is humility. We know that Scio is a really good team."