Sept. 20, 2021 — The Siuslaw Vikings (2-0) overcame dangerously smoky conditions in Eastern Oregon, a last minute change of venue and the buzz generated for the home team by their homecoming celebration to shut out the Sisters Outlaws (0-2) 50-0.
The game was originally scheduled to be played at Sisters, but with an Air Quality Index of 120 due to wildfires in the area, conditions were deemed unsafe. Thus, the game was moved to the brand new artificial turf of Caldera High School in Bend.
This was the first-ever varsity football game played at Caldera High’s new, state of the art, athletic facilities. The school opened just a few weeks ago and Caldera is only fielding freshman and junior varsity teams their first year.
The change in location forced Siuslaw to abandon its normal pregame routine. The team arrived in Bend just an hour and a half before kick-off and there was no locker room available to the team. Many fans found out about the change at the last moment and arrived just before or right after kickoff.
The different routine appeared to have little effect on the Vikings, who came out of the gates more like a team that had prepared in optimal conditions.
Siuslaw’s offense continued its red-hot play from last week and the first of seven Viking touchdowns came quickly. Two seniors connected when Beau Erickson side-armed a 6-yard pass through a crowd in the middle of the endzone and found his favorite target, Braydon Thornton. Their classmate Camp Lacouture kicked through the extra point (the first of 23 points, in various forms, he’d score for the Vikings) to make the score 7-0 Siuslaw.
Erickson pointed out that sometimes a mistake can be fortunate, especially when a team is prepared for anything.
“That was kind of a lucky pass. I’m not going to lie,” said Erickson. “Braydon ran the wrong route on that. You can see on the film; he's just standing there. Then he runs a slant and gets open.”
The adversity started early for the home team. It wasn’t long after the Outlaws got the ball back that their center snapped the ball over quarterback Griffin Gardner’s head. Junior Ian Sissel hopped on the ball for the fumble recovery. This put the Vikings on the Sisters’ 26 yard line and on the attack again.
Next, Siuslaw got sneaky when they pulled a flea-flicker from their bag of tricks. What, at the beginning of the play, looked like a standard back to back handoff ended up being a pass to Erickson from his receiver Thornton for 14 yard gain.
The scoring continued for the Viks when senior Rhys Fleming caught his first touchdown pass of the season, a 16-yarder. Lacouture ran in the 2-point conversion. That made it 15-0 Vikings.
The Viking quarterback credits his receiver for the work he did on the touchdown.
“I just let him use his big frame to make a play on the ball. My job’s pretty easy when I’ve got guys like that out there catching my passes,” said Erickson.
The Siuslaw defense gave their opponents fits all night as they broke through the Sisters offensive line over and over.
Sisters quarterback Gardner was constantly harassed and was hobbled before the end of the first quarter and couldn't finish the game.
After a long run by Lacouture, Thornton caught his second touchdown of the game. With the extra point kick, the score at the end of the first quarter was 22-0 Vikings.
Along with his first pass thrown of the season, Thornton also caught four passes to finish with 101 yards receiving and two touchdowns on the day. His receiving counterpart, senior Isaac Garza, also had three catches for 76 yards.
The man throwing them the passes, Erickson, was 11 for 17 for 223 yards with 3 touchdowns.
Along with the dominant Siuslaw defense, errors continued to plague Sisters. On 4th down and backed up deep in their own side of the field, the Outlaw’s center snapped the ball over the punter’s head and out the back of the endzone. That was a safety and worth 2 points for the Vikings. Barely into the second quarter and the score was 24-0 Vikings.
The Siuslaw offensive line steam rolled over Sisters all game. Camp Lacouture ran in three more touchdowns before halftime and the score was 43-0 Vikings at the extra-long break.
Along with the three touchdowns and his kicking duties, Lacouture finished the game with 12 carries for 165 yards on the ground and two catches for 23 yards receiving. One of many players sharing running back duties was junior Hunter Petterson, who carried the ball seven times for 75 yards.
Though it didn’t seem to slow the Vikings’ momentum, the teams had to wait 20 minutes (twice as long as the standard break) in between halves because Sisters was enjoying the crowning of their homecoming king and queen.
Though halftime was long, the second half was not. For the Vikings’ second straight game, the entire second half was played under the “mercy rule,” meaning the clock ran, uninterrupted by stoppage of play or incomplete passes, for the final two quarters of play.
Also, for the second straight game, Siuslaw played the entire active roster. In the third quarter, freshman Andrew Jensen Norman scored his first varsity touchdown and junior Dez Anderson kicked the extra point for his first varsity points. Anderson came as an experienced kicker, spending most of his youth playing soccer and only joining the football team this year. These were the final points in a 50-0 shutout.
This was the first 3A Special District 2 game for the Vikings and the win puts them in a 2-way tie for first with South Umpqua and St. Mary’s of Medford, both also 1-0 in league play.
The win also put Siuslaw in the #2 spot in the official OSAA 3A Football Rankings. Though early, these rankings are important because they are used to determine eligibility and seeding for the postseason playoff tournament to determine the 3A state champion.
Next Friday, Siuslaw will travel north to play the 4A Tri-Valley Conference Gladstone Gladiators (1-2) at 7 p.m. for their last non-league game of the season. Gladstone is coming off a 42-14 road loss to Marist (3-0) of Eugene. Gladstone runs a spread offense that features reigning first-team all-conference safety Brayde Owen as their starting quarterback. The defense switches between 3-4 and 4-3 and returns a pair of first-team all-conference defensive ends in Ethan Finnigan and Tracy Montgomery.
Also, in action involving teams the Vikings have on their upcoming schedule, Cascade Christian (1-0) finally opened their season with a 44-0 drubbing of Yreka (Calif.). St. Mary’s (2-1) beat Pleasant Hill (0-2) 20-14 and La Pine (1-1) traveled to Dayton (2-1) and won 37-16.