Moments after Sprague High School began celebrating its 48-47 overtime victory over Sherwood in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs Friday, junior quarterback Spencer Plant said it felt like the Olympians were "a team of destiny."
He might be on to something.
In a 28-27 first-round home victory against Sunset, the Olympians stopped a 2-point conversion attempt with 2:40 remaining that proved to be the difference in the game.
In a supreme irony for what was an offensive shootout Friday at Sprague High School, the No 8 seeded Olympians (10-1) made a game-sealing defensive play again.
After Sprague scored on a 21-yard pass from Plant to junior wide receiver Max Long in overtime for a 48-41 lead, No. 9 seed Sherwood (7-4) answered with a touchdown of its own on a 6-yard run by David Morris.
The Bowmen elected to go for the win on a 2-point conversion and it came as no surprise that Morris would get the ball. After all, the senior running back/safety who has verbally committed to Oregon State was virtually unstoppable the entire game.
But Morris, who ran for 276 yards and four touchdowns, including scoring runs of 62, 49 and 62 yards, was stopped two yards short of the goal line by Teagan Quitoriano and a few teammates.
"We knew (Morris) was gonna get the ball. He was having a great night," said Quitoriano, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound junior defensive end/tight end. "I knew he was gonna get it on a stretch (play) or something. I just tried to string it out, people came and filled the lane and I ended up making a play."
That play guaranteed basketball practice would be on hold at least another week for Quitoriano, who is one of the premier hoops players in the Greater Valley Conference. He's a standout football player as well and was named GVC Defensive Player of the Year this season.
As for getting a late start on basketball?
"That's fine," Quintoriano said. "We're on a run."
Sprague's reward for a second consecutive one-point playoff win is a matchup Friday at No. 1 seed West Linn (11-0), which rolled over Lake Oswego 63-21 in the second round. The Lions of the Three Rivers League have won their last five games by an average of 42 points.
The Olympians find themselves in an underdog role, but don't expect the moment to be too big for them.
At this point, anything can happen," Sprague coach Jay Minyard said. "There's eight teams left in the state so all of 'em have some talent and are pretty good. Quite frankly, the way this team keeps rising to the challenge, I couldn't be more thrilled to be playing (West Linn) at their place."
The Olympians, who have won nine games in a row since a Week 2 loss to West Salem, trailed 14-0 early in the first quarter against Sherwood. They didn't take their first lead until early in the fourth quarter on senior Dane McKinney's 3-yard run followed by sophomore Will Deloretto's extra point.
Fittingly, two evenly matched teams battled to the final play in a thrilling back-and-forth game.
Sprague received an outstanding performance from junior running back Noah Mellen, who ran for 207 yards and two scores, and threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Nick Brotton on an option pass.
Mellen, who has split the running load with McKinney this season, was the Olys' primary back Friday because McKinney was not 100 percent due to a back injury, and he was utilized mostly at linebacker.
"We thought we'd have Noah carry the ball a little more tonight," Minyard said. "This was his best performance."
It would not have come at a better time. But that statement could apply to the entire Sprague team.
Plant threw for 243 yards and three touchdowns, and overcame two interceptions in a gritty performance. Long had three touchdown receptions.
"We score a lot of points, but when it comes down to it defenses win championships and I was really proud of how are defense played," Plant said.
Special teams came through as well.
Sprague scored on an apparent 2-point conversion pass in overtime, but an offensive pass interference penalty took those points off the board. Deloretto converted a clutch 35-yard extra point after Sherwood scored a touchdown on its overtime possession.
Offense, defense and special teams. Sprague has everything working with its most difficult test of the season ahead.
"We're on top of the world right now," Plant said. "This feeling will last until about (Saturday)morning and then we'll be right back to work."
By Gary Horowitz, Statesman Journal (11-12-16)Original Article