by: TIMES PHOTO: JEFF GOODMAN - Beaverton sophomore quarterback Sam Noyer went 18-29 for 202 yards in the Beavers second round playoff loss to Canby on Friday.

The hype machine encircling the 2014 Beaverton football team started picking up steam when the clock struck zero on Friday night, when the ‘13 Beavers lost to Canby 31-7 in the second round of the postseason.

With as many as 45 juniors or sophomores coming back next season, including quarterback Sam Noyer, wide receivers Robby Valentine, Bryce Barker and Stephen Marcille, offensive tackle Jared Hilbers, running back Chidubem Nnoli and sophomore defensive back Eric Hurd, it’s hard not to get excited about the 2014 season. The possibilities for greatness are salivating, if you’re a Beaver fan.

But, before next season’s juicy expectations and possibilties are laid down and discussed, head coach Bob Boyer rightfully wants to ensure the 2013 senior class receives its due gratitude.

Aside from offensive lineman Daniel Sanchez and linebacker Anthony Battaro, Beaverton had very little in terms of returning seniors with varsity experience. Yet, it was vets like defensive end Kiuna Talalemotu, wide receiver/cornerback Drew Kimmer, running back John Ahn, defensive back Eli Twain and running back Grant Johnson who stepped up, picked up the slack and made critical plays in crucial games that helped Beaverton take the next step as on-the-rise program in 6A.

“I’ve always believed that if you don’t have strong senior leadership, then the next year is tough,” said Boyer. “As coaches, you have to teach players how to lead, but it’s better if the players do it. I think it showed the young guys that ‘Hey, if I stay dedicated to it, and I work for it, then I can accomplish a lot of things.’ For them to get as many wins as we did, and have an opportunity to get to the third round, is pretty impressive.”

It was a small class in terms of numbers with only 15 seniors. But, their four years of hard work and positive impact on the field will be felt for seasons to come in Boyer’s opinion.

They laid down a foundation that Noyer, Barker, Marcille, and the rest of the returning Beavers can build upom and nurture this spring and summer when the team reconvenes for team workouts.

“Normally you have a class and only a quarter of them produce,” said Boyer. “But, I would say 95-98 percent of our seniors were very productive, and a big part of what we did. Those guys got everything out of themselves that they could get. They showed great leadership, and taught our young guys how to do it.”

Against Canby in a driving rainstorm that put the skids on Beaverton’s no-huddle offense, the Cougars scored the first four touchdowns of the game and didn’t give up any points in the first half. They allowed only one touchdown in a playoff game for the second-straight week and held their opponent to 15 points or fewer for the fifth time this season.

Beaverton mustered its only touchdown when Johnson swung into the end zone on a short run with 5:07 left in the game. Before the Beavers scored, their night looked like this: punt, punt, fumble, turnover on downs, punt, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs, interception.

Defensively, Boyer said Beaverton played well enough to win, but also noted the Beavers couldn’t get things on the offensive side of the ball against a crippling Canby defense.

“I think this is just going to pay huge dividends for us,” said Boyer. “Every week longer you get to go, those guys get that much more experience. That’s what we were hoping to get out of it.”

To reach the second round for the first time in nearly five seasons and see the competitive drive develop in the hearts of Beaver players both against Canby and during the course of the season was something that made Boyer and his coaching staff proud.

“I thought everybody grew by leaps and bounds,” said Boyer. “The seniors did a heck of a job showing guys what it is to work and find your role on the team. I think our young guys saw that, stepped in and made a lot of plays. I’m just really proud of the guys this year, and how they came together, worked together and the efforts they made.”

Canby prepared all week to face quarterback Noyer, the 6-foot-4 sophomore who entered the game with 2,160 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air, and its defensive schemes stifled the Beavers’ passing attack for most of the evening. Noyer finished 18-for-29 with 202 yards but was constantly scrambling from defenders. Solid defense gave the Cougars excellent scoring opportunities against Beaverton, and their offense capitalized.

In the preseason, Beaverton’s main goal was to be the third seed out of the Metro League, and while they fell short of that ambition, the experience the green Beavers garnered was invaluable. Playing three postseason games with two of them on the road against top-tier competition is only going to give Beaverton a leg up on its most likely reloading Metro League rivals next fall. Additionally, being thrown into the fire against four playoff squads like Jesuit, Southridge, Westview and Sunset and coming out on the wrong end in each contest helped harden the Beavers. Losing three of four games in the middle of the Metro League season, in the end, was the turning point in the Beavers’ season. Beaverton found a common competitive resolve after getting jettisoned by Jesuit, 49-28, and ripped off two huge playoff triumphs against Thurston and Sprague.

“When you lose three games like that, it’s hard to keep your spirits up, but they did,” said Boyer. “They worked through it. To dominate Thurston the way they did, and win the Sprague game, exceeds expectations. And, more importantly, it proved the resiliency and determination of these guys. They could’ve folded before the play-in game, but they didn’t do that. They came back, regrouped and fought, and fought.”

Jeff Goodman of The Canby Herald contributed to this story.

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