MAUPIN — Playing in the first-ever OSAA OnPoint Community Credit Union Class 1A six-man football state playoffs, the No. 6-seeded Elkton Elks were hoping to get an upset win over the No. 3 South Wasco County High Redsides.
The Elks (7-3), guided by fourth-year coach Jeremy Lockhart, came into the matchup with the momentum of a seven-game winning streak. They had a good start in the quarterfinal contest, but the Redsides proved to be worthy of their high recognition in the rankings as they won 46-12 Saturday at South Wasco County High School.
“It was a tough loss for sure, but that’s the way it goes and they (Redsides) are a very good team,” Lockhart aid. “They came out and took it to us. We tried to make a lot of adjustments, but it didn’t quite work out for us. We had opportunities to score, but just didn’t get it done and didn’t execute well. We missed some downfield blocking and those kind of things cost us. Even when we had some decent plays, they still came through and shut us down. We just did not punch it in when we needed to.”
South Wasco (8-1), of the Special District 1 in Eastern Oregon, scored on its first possession of the game for a 7-0 lead with 7:08 remaining in the first quarter.
Elkton, which took second place in the Special District 2 South Division at 5-1, responded quickly just 13 seconds later to get on the scoreboard. Elkton senior wide receiver Christian Halstead scored a touchdown on a 62-yard kickoff return, making the score 7-6 with 6:55 left in the quarter.
“I felt like we had a chance to win early in game,” Halstead said. “They (Redsides) are a pretty good team. At halftime we still felt like we were in it and had a chance too. I had a lot of fun in my final season. The referees made it tough for us and it felt like we were playing against them as well.”
The Redsides demonstrated their high scoring offense (41 points per game average) and answered quickly in their very next possession with a touchdown to go up 14-6 with 6:14 on the clock.
Following a Redsides kickoff, the Elks seemed to be in position for a scoring drive on their ensuing possession. A three-play drive that included a 38-yard pass from junior quarterback Anthony Alimenti to senior receiver Conner Anderson stalled at the Redsides 17-yard line. The Redsides gained possession at their own 17 after a failed fourth down conversion attempt by the Elks.
The Elks again had another golden opportunity to score and possibly trim the Redsides’ lead to one point on South Wasco’s ensuing possession. Alimenti recovered a Redsides fumble at their 21-yard line, giving the Elks great field position for what they were hoping would be a short scoring drive.
Elks senior running back/defensive end Nathan Rausch had a solid 11-yard run to the Redsides 10. However the rock solid Redsides defense slammed the door shut on the Elks as the drive stalled at the 10 and South Wasco regained possession.
“It did look like we had a chance early in the game,” Rausch said. “Honestly, it felt like we really did have a good shot, but we just had too many errors and our mental outlook in regards to the officiating, which made it a very difficult aspect of the game for us. I think this was the best game I’ve played this year on defense and I had lot of sacks. It definitely felt like an emotional game for me, since it was the last time that I’ll play football.”
South Wasco scored on its next possession to take a 20-6 lead with 9:17 left until halftime.
Rausch had one of his four sacks of Redsides senior quarterback Ian Ongers to help force a failed fourth down conversion by South Wasco. However, the Elks had yet another four downs and out series and the Redsides capitalized on their opportunity and scored to build a 26-6 halftime lead.
The Redsides’ momentum continued in the second half as they scored two more touchdowns for an insurmountable 40-6 lead after three quarters.
Elkton scored a touchdown on the final play of the game on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Alimenti to Halstead for the final margin.
The contest marked the final game of their Elkton High School football career for seniors Conner Anderson, Jayden Bickford, Rausch and Halstead.
“I’m going to miss the seniors, who are really a great group of guys,” Lockhart said. “I’ve coached those guys the last four years, so it’s really going to be tough losing them.”
S. Wasco 14 12 14 6 — 46
Elkton 6 0 0 6 — 12
SW — James Best 8 run (Holloway run)
E — Halstead 62 kickoff return (pass failed)
SW — McCoy 57 pass from Ongers (Best run)
SW — Best 9 run (run failed)
SW — Best 44 run (pass failed)
SW — Holloway 8 run (McCoy pass from Ongers)
SW — Best 13 pass from Ongers (McCoy pass from Ongers)
SW — Holloway 28 pass from Ongers (run failed)
E — Halstead 46 pass from Alimenti (pass failed)