Charles White, left, Jarred Evans, right, during the Sat. Nov. 23 game. Photo: Stewart Monroe

BANKS - The Banks Braves football team (No. 1) will defend their 2018 OSAA 4A state championship in the finals against the La Grande Tigers (No. 3) this Saturday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. at Hermiston High School.

Banks defeated Marist Catholic (No. 5) in a 56-31 shootout in last week’s semi-final matchup to earn a repeat bid.  

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Banks Quarterback Tanner Shook lead the Braves’ scoring explosion, completing 13-of-18 passes for 262 yards and four touchdowns, and he spread those passes out among four receivers.

Jacob Slifka caught five passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns, and Jarred Evans also pulled down five passes for 111 yards and one touchdown. 

Not to be outdone, Banks running back Martial Stegemeier had 26 carries for 193 yards, averaging 7.3 yards-per-rush, including a 46-yard breakaway and three touchdowns.

“We’re back in it,” Banks Head Coach Cole Linehan said. “It’s awesome to have another shot at winning a state championship.” 

Marist Catholic and Banks started the game trading touchdowns for a 7-7 tie with 7:17 left on the first-quarter clock. The teams traded off scoring drives again, and Banks led 14-10. The Braves never trailed again.

At the end of the half, Marist Catholic threatened to come back thanks to a 52-yard pass from quarterback Max Campbell to Lucas Patterson, but Shook answered by leading the Braves on a four-play, 62-yard drive to make it 28-19 at halftime. 

Banks then came out in the third quarter with a six-play, 69-yard drive for a 35-19 lead, and Marist Catholic never truly came within reach of winning again. 

“Being able to score right before halftime with 45 seconds left, and then getting the ball back and scoring to start the second half, we had a huge momentum swing,” Linehan said. “Our defense made some adjustments at halftime that put us in a better spot. They were taking a long time calling their plays, waiting to see our defense. We started showing different defenses than what we were playing to keep them guessing so it was harder for their coaches to run down the play clock and make the right (last-second) call.”

Linehan said that even with the defensive adjustment, Marist Catholic still scored more against Banks than any team the Braves faced all season.

“I was so proud of our defense,” he said. “They rallied our offense on to win.”

Risdon White, center, surrounded by the Braves Varsity Football Team during the Sat. Nov. 23 game. Photo: Stewart Monroe

Championship Game

Linehan said Banks has not faced La Grande in his four years as head coach, but that the Braves have watched the Tigers, who play in a three-team league, on film.

La Grande is on a roll this year. The Tigers, like the Braves, are 11-0. They have a solid defense, giving up the least amount of points of any 4A team in the state, and they are very athletic on both sides of the ball. La Grande also is senior heavy, Linehan said.

“They play a lot of good football, but I like the matchup,” he said.

Listings for stations broadcasting the game both on television and on radio are available on the OSAA website. 

To read more detailed statistics from Banks’ win over Catholic Marist, click here.