The Banks Braves Logo. Photo: BSD
Oh, the heartbreak.
The Banks Braves football team failed to repeat as OSAA 4A state champions, falling 21-0 to the La Grande Tigers in the tournament's final game at Hermiston High School.
Banks Head Coach Cole Linehan was not immediately available for comment following the game.
Banks fumbled three times and received some costly penalties while La Grande’s defense consistently shut down the Braves both in the air and on the ground.
The Braves trailed La Grande at the end of the first half 7-0, and the game still looked very much within reach for the defending champions.
Banks received the opening kickoff and Braves senior quarterback Tanner Shook wasted no time, throwing a screen to Braves senior Jared Evans for a 44-yard gain. La Grande stopped the drive at their own 37-yard line and took over the ball at the 14-yard line following a Banks punt.
Tigers senior quarterback Parker Robinson led his team deep inside Banks territory with a sustained running attack, but on fourth down with 14 yards to go Banks stopped the Tigers at the 26-yard line.
Banks took possession but fumbled the ball on second down, which led to La Grande at the end of the first quarter attempting a field goal that missed wide and low to the left.
As Robinson took La Grande back into Banks territory, the Braves were called for two facemask penalties on consecutive plays for a combined 30-yard loss. On fourth-and-four, Robinson threw over the middle to junior wide receiver Jackson Walker for a touchdown, and La Grande kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Banks threatened again on a long drive that ended with the Braves fumbling away another chance to score at the Tigers’ seven-yard line.
La Grande received the kickoff to start the second half and with 10:16 seconds left in the third quarter, Blaine Shaw caught a pass from Robinson, running for 65 yards and a touchdown, giving La Grande a 14-0 lead.
On the kickoff, Banks fumbled a reverse attempt, recovered the ball, dropped it and recovered it again on the 15-yard line. Banks couldn’t gain any ground and attempted to punt, but the kick was shanked and La Grande took possession of the ball at the Braves’ 34-yard line.
The Banks defense stepped up again and stopped La Grande, but the Braves offense again could not move the ball.
On third down at the Braves’ 15-yard line, Shook was pressured to the outside and threw across his body into the middle of the field, resulting in an interception by La Grande and a subsequent touchdown for a 21-0 Tigers lead.
With 45 seconds left in the third quarter, the Tigers kicked off and their special teams again stopped the Braves inside the Banks 20-yard line.
To start the fourth quarter, Shook threw over the middle for a 20-yard gain and a quick first down. Shook on the next play dropped back to pass but was pressured out of the pocket and ran for a four-yard gain.
Two plays later, Evans dropped a fourth-down pass and La Grande took possession on the Braves’ 48-yard line. Frustration by the Banks players started to show; after the play, players engaged in a little pushing and shoving, but no penalty was called.
La Grande took possession and ran out the clock to end the game and win their first OSAA 4A state football championship since 1945.