SUTHERLIN — Winning football players smell.
That was the instant lesson for the Sutherlin High student section as they gathered to hug and celebrate their victorious Bulldog heroes.
There was nothing stinky about the Bulldogs’ sweat-equity on the football field Friday night. They scored four times — including a drive in the final two minutes of the first half — and erected a brick wall on defense as they shut out Douglas 28-0 in a nonconference game.
It was SHS’s first win in the series with their county rivals since 2007.
“It’s huge,” SHS coach Josh Gary said. “You can’t have a rivalry if you haven’t beaten someone in 10 years, that’s beating little brother, so it’s huge. It’s a huge win for our kids.
“Some perspective though, is it’s preseason football. We don’t want to be preseason champions, we want to be league champions and make the state playoffs.”
Sutherlin (2-1) hasn’t won a conference title or advanced to the playoffs since Gary was the coach the first time. He stepped down after the 2012 season; SHS last made the playoff bracket in 2009.
Friday’s game turned early, as the Bulldogs’ defense came up with a huge stop on Douglas’ first drive.
After the Trojans (0-3) stopped SHS in three plays, they drove to the Sutherlin 15 before losing the football on a fumble that was recovered by Quinton Garcia.
It shifted the momentum and the Bulldogs promptly drove 85 yards, scoring on Bryce Anderson’s 6-yard run. They scored on their next three possesions.
“We killed ourselves in that first half,” Douglas coach Silia Polamalu said. “They got some big plays — I felt like we were in pretty good shape on the defensive side, and then they hit that big pass play, again and again.
“We had a couple big chances on offense, a couple of big penalties and then the fumble was big, and we can’t recover from that.”
Sutherlin lined up and ran at the Trojans from the get-go. It didn’t pan out on the first drive, but after the fumble recovery the Bulldogs’ ground game opened up the rest of the offense.
Senior quarterback Cade Meisner, who ran a spread attack a year ago, showed patience and poise. Play action after several running plays created the first big play and got SHS in scoring position.
Case Wells scored on a 19-yard dash with 5:27 remaining in the first half, and Meisner delivered the first of two TD passes to cap a drive in the final 1:50. Meisner’s 10-yard pass to Mason Gill made it 21-0, 24 seconds before the half.
“It’s a team effort right there,” Meisner said. “The running backs did their job and it opened up passing lanes for Mason, Brandon (Carr), JR (Bailey), all of the guys. They weren’t the greatest throws, but I got lucky with a couple of big ones.”
Meisner got luckiest of all on the Bulldogs’ first possession of the third quarter. His deep ball for Carr hung in the air and was nearly intercepted, but was tipped up and Carr made the catch and finished off a 59-yard pitch and catch for the final margin.
Douglas managed to reach the 5, but a sack and a penalty denied that possession and the Trojans weren’t able to get any closer to the end zone.
Sutherlin will play at South Umpqua (2-1) on Friday, while Douglas will host Harrisburg the same night. Both teams will open conference play on Sept. 28.
Douglas 0 0 0 0 — 0
Sutherlin 7 14 7 0 — 28
S — Bryce Anderson 6 run (Bryce Olson kick), 2:14
S — Case Wells 19 run (Olson kick), 5:27
S — Mason Gill 10 pass from Cade Meisner (Olson kick), 0:24
S — Brandon Carr 59 pass from Meisner (Olson kick), 9:35