The Banks Braves Logo. Photo: BSD
BANKS – The Banks Braves varsity football team last week continued its march to a second-straight 4A OSAA state championship by defeating Marshfield 28-22, and now faces eighth-seeded Baker in a quarter-round playoff game Saturday, November 16 at 1 p.m. at Hillsboro High School’s Hare Field.
The Baker Bulldogs make the 640-mile round trip from Baker City to face the Braves — the 9-0 overall, No. 1-seeded defending state champions — following the Bulldogs 38-21 win over No. 9 seeded Cascade.
Marshfield gave Banks fans a scare last week by jumping out to a 9-0 lead to start the second quarter. Cole Linehan, Banks’ head coach, said once the Braves’ nerves settled — it was the first-ever playoff game for some key Banks players — they went on a three-touchdown unanswered run, bringing the score to 21-9, and the Braves never trailed again.
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“We were able to go into halftime up 21-9,” Linehan said. “Then, we came out to start the third quarter and put together one of our best drives of the season. We scored, but the drive also ate 7:30 from the clock, and we went up 28-9.”
Linehan said with the Braves’ offense rolling they got the ball back in the fourth quarter only to have a long touchdown called back on a controversial blocking-in-the-back penalty. Banks would have had a 35-9 lead but instead, after getting the ball back, Marshfield scored twice.
The Braves then ran down the clock until one minute remained, which was enough time for the battle-tested Marshfield to put together a punishing drive down the field, but the Banks defense put a stop to that notion by knocking out the Pirates in four-straight downs.
“It was a good test,” Linehan said. “They had a good football team — certainly not what you would think of as your typical sixteenth-seeded team. We knew going into the game it was going to be a good test. We took control of the game but they came back. We had a lot to clean up after week one of the playoffs, but we feel ready to face Baker.”
Linehan said the Braves are trying not to overthink Saturday’s contest by approaching it as if it’s preparation for just another game.
Baker has a strong running attack and two highly-talented wide receivers they use a lot, both of which are complemented by a strong defense and speed, up and down the roster.
Baker scored 277 points during the 2019 campaign while allowing opponents to score just 143 points against. By comparison, this season Banks scored 324 points while allowing only 94 points against.
The Bulldogss are 6-3 overall, including a 40-0 shutout over Nyssa and a 47-0 shutout over league rivals Ontario.
Linehan said Saturday’s game was moved from Banks’ home field to Hillsboro’s Hare Field because the Braves’ field is torn up from season play, and Hare Field is just 10 miles away.
“Our team is good on artificial turf, too” he said.
To view brackets for the 4A state championship tournament, and more information about both teams, including rosters and season statistics, visit the OSAA website.