The Cougars, who have lost at that stage of the playoffs in three straight seasons, host the mercurial Beavers at 7 p.m. Nov. 15.

by: JEFF GOODMAN - Alejandro Sandoval (62) and the Canby football team are trying to get past the second round for the first time in Mike Vaught's career at the helm.Getting to the second round hasn’t been a problem for the Canby football team. Getting past it, however, has proven elusive.

The Cougars have fallen at that stage of the state playoffs in every season with coach Mike Vaught at the helm, losing to Eugene-Sheldon in 2010, Portland-Grant in 2011 and Tigard last year.

But after handling Newberg in the opening round, they started pondering a trip into uncharted territory.

“It would mean a whole lot — not just for Coach Vaught, but for the seniors, too,” lineman Zach Kraus said. “We want to do it, and we feel like we can.”

Standing between No. 12 Canby (5-5) and its first journey past the second round since 2009 is Beaverton, which will travel to Cougar Stadium for a Nov. 15 game at 7 p.m. The winner will face either Sheldon or Tualatin in the quarterfinals Nov. 22.

Although the No. 28 Beavers won just one Metro League game, they earned a spot in the round of 16 by topping Thurston in a play-in meeting and upsetting fifth-seeded Salem-Sprague in a 35-34 overtime triumph in the opening round.

Their win over Sprague, which was sealed by quarterback Sam Noyer’s two-point conversion pass to junior Chidubem Nnoli in overtime, gave them their first playoff win since 2008.

Noyer, who threw for 256 yards and four touchdowns against Thurston, orchestrates an offense that also features running back Grant Johnson and junior wideout Bryce Barker. Beaverton’s defense is led by Barker, fellow defensive back Drew Kimmer and linebackers Tovey Brown and Casey Cornwell.

The Beavers (6-5), who won state titles in 1980 and 1999, have an all-time playoff record of 41-29 with 10 trips to the semifinals and four finals appearances.

Canby, which is making its eighth-straight playoff appearance, is 38-26-1 all-time in playoff games. It is 2-0 in playoff games against Beaverton, winning a quarterfinal in 2003 and a second-round meeting in 2006.

For the Cougars, the health woes that derailed their regular season did not diminish their hopes of a postseason run.

“We’ve had all the injuries, and we’ve lost close games, but our goal hasn’t changed,” Vaught said. “We’ve just been doing it with some different players.”

Senior running back Dominic Shorter (foot) and junior linebacker Jace Cates (leg) made welcomed returns against Newberg. Shorter assisted Noah Kyllo in the team’s depleted backfield.

“It just helps because it keeps guys fresh,” Vaught said. “We’re not going to have to rely on one guy doing all the work.”

However, versatile senior Keltin Boykin aggravated a nagging ankle injury against the Tigers and is considered day-to-day, Vaught said.

“This was more than a tweak,” Vaught said. “But we need him. He’s a solid blocker in the backfield, and he runs hard.”

Junior tight end Braxton Ennes, who has missed several games due to injury, was scheduled to have an MRI taken Nov. 11.

“We’re just praying no one else gets hurt,” junior Josh Payne said.

 In any case, Canby will likely need to diversify its offense and limit turnovers to get past the Beavers.

Senior quarterback Austin Taylor scored two rushing touchdowns against Newberg but attempted just two passes, completing one for 70 yards.

“Austin made some good plays,” Vaught said. “But if we could throw the ball a little bit more, that would be a good thing.”

Meanwhile, Vaught said, the Cougars will spend plenty of practice time on ball security. They fumbled four times against the Tigers, including once in the red zone on their first possession.

“We can’t continue to do that,” he said. “We’ve got to play a lot cleaner if we want to keep advancing. We’ll focus on hanging onto the ball.”

Defensively, Canby will aim to build on a strong outing in which it held Newberg scoreless through halftime. The Cougars have never given up more than 22 points in a playoff game against Beaverton.

“We’re feeling good about ourselves,” Vaught said. “We need to win some more games.”



A look at the last four games between Canby and Beaverton, including two playoff meetings:

Nov. 21, 2003: CANBY 24, Beaverton 13 (quarterfinals)

Sept. 22, 2006: Beaverton 21, CANBY 14

Nov. 17, 2006: Canby 25, BEAVERTON 22 (second round)

Sept. 21, 2007: BEAVERTON 21, Canby 6

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