The Banks Braves at the 2018 state football championship. Photo: Angela Scorcio

BANKS - The Banks Braves varsity football team, the reigning Oregon 4A high school state football champions, carry their undefeated, season-long streak into Friday’s playoff matchup against Marshfield High School (Coos Bay) at 7 p.m. at Banks High School.

Braves Head Coach Cole Linehan, himself a graduate of Banks High School, said that even though Banks is the overall No. 1 seed and Marshfield is ranked No. 16 out of a 16-team bracket, this will be no easy game for Banks.

“They are not your usual 16-seed team,” Linehan said. “Their record this season is 5-3, but two of the 4A teams they lost to were (No. 6 seed) Gladstone and (No. 5 seed) Marist. Typically, or a lot of times, the No. 16 seed is average or below average, but that certainly is not the case with Marshfield. They have well-coached, good players.”

Linehan reflected on the 2019 season, saying the team began the year with the goal of winning the league championship for back-to-back titles, even though it lost many of its star players from the 2018 season to graduation, and many observers did not expect Banks to repeat. 

But players like senior wide receiver Jarred Evans, who was named the league’s offensive player of the year, senior middle linebacker Bryson Cook, who was named the league’s defensive player of the year, and senior wide receiver Jacob Silva, stepped up and turned themselves into weapons on the field for the Braves.

Not to mention, the entire starting offensive and defensive lines have been playing together since their sophomore year, Linehan said. 

“Our philosophy all year was to concern ourselves only with what we were doing as a team,” Linehan said. “Defensively, we have this relentless attitude about getting the football and setting ourselves up so our offense can be successful. We strive to show maximum effort at all times and our kids are doing an awesome job of that. They play hard and it’s fun to watch.”

Banks High School Athletic Director Ben Buchanan said coming off a state championship last year, a lot of people assumed the Braves would drop off.

“People thought we would be good, but not as good as last year,” Buchanan said. “But we’ve had some kids step up this year and take the place of some of the special players we had last year as seniors. This year, this team and this group of kids has shown excellent leadership.”