Braves running downhill
Banks kicks its ground game into high gear with 377 rushing yards in a dominant 49-6 homecoming victory over Scappoose
Dakota Kemper was in beast mode Friday night.
Playing in front of a large homecoming crowd, Kemper rushed for 223 yards and three touchdowns to spark the Banks offense and lead the Braves to a surprising 49-6 beatdown of Scappoose in Cowapa League play.
Kemper - the Braves' 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior running back - had his second straight monster game, scoring on runs of 4, 12 and 70 yards and going over the 200-yard mark for the second time in his career.
'We controlled the clock and ran the ball really well,' said Banks coach Ben Buchanan. 'When you run the football for 377 yards, you're going to win a lot of games. Kemper's being a beast right now and (Graysen) Partain is gashing them on the outside - we have a lot of weapons.'
Banks (4-1, 2-0) showed off all of its offensive weapons on Friday against Scappoose, a team that is ranked No. 7 in the OSAA Class 4A Power Rankings.
Kemper got things started with a 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and fullback Chance Cauley added a short scoring run midway through the second period. Sandwiched around Cauley's score were a pair of 15-yard touchdown passes from Shea Rue to wideout Zach Olson, giving Banks a 28-0 halftime lead.
'I was a little bit surprised. I expected it to be a closer game,' Buchanan said. 'We didn't allow them to get into any sort of rhythm.'
Indeed, Scappoose (3-3, 0-2) managed just six first downs the entire game while punting 10 times, and the Indians finished with 204 yards of total offense to Banks' 476.
As impressive as the Braves were on offense, however, Buchanan was quick to also credit his team's defense.
'They played hard defensively and looked really tough,' he said. 'To give up only six first downs to Scappoose is pretty amazing.'
Scappoose opened the scoring in the second half on a 14-yard pass from Cody Stutzer to Stephen Bowe, cutting the deficit to 28-6, but that was all the Banks defense was willing to allow.
Kemper effectively slammed the door, scoring on a 12-yard run in the third quarter and then breaking loose for a 70-yard touchdown run early in the fourth to give the Braves a 42-6 advantage. Partain, Banks' fastest player and the team's designated Wildcat specialist, capped the scoring with a 12-yard run later in the fourth quarter.
In addition to Kemper's big night, Partain rushed for 75 yards on eight carries and Rue contributed 78 yards from his quarterback position. Rue also completed 8 of 21 passes for 99 yards and the two touchdowns to Olson.
'We lost a lot of guys last year,' Buchanan said, referring to his 19-player senior class from 2010. 'We knew we had some good players coming back, we just didn't know how long it would take for everything to come together.
'I thought we would get to this point, I just didn't think we'd get here this fast.'
Much of the credit for Banks' early-season success goes to the offensive line, which features seniors Garrett Bossert, Tanner Eddy, Bubba Brown and Austin Soper, plus juniors Chance Rondo and Thomas Blatner.
'Our offensive line is really fast, kind of like last year,' Buchanan said. 'Overall we've got a lot of team speed, and that provides a lot of matchup problems for other teams.'
Through five games, Banks is averaging 259 rushing yards per game, and that includes a 50-yard performance against Rainier, the Braves' lowest rushing output since the start of the 2007 season.
With Kemper, Cauley and Rue beating up defenses between the tackles and Partain using his speed to get to the edge, Banks figures to challenge Astoria for a league title. Those teams will meet Oct. 28 in the final game of the regular season.
'I don't want to look ahead, but that game will probably be for a league championship, just like it's been the last couple seasons,' Buchanan said.
Prior to their date with Astoria, the Braves must first get past Seaside this week and Yamhill-Carlton on Oct. 21. Because of the statewide school in-service day on Friday, Banks will travel to Seaside on Thursday for a rare 3 p.m. kickoff.
'It's kind of an oddball time,' Buchanan said. 'They've got a new field with turf but they don't have any lights, so we'll play it in the afternoon.'
Seaside (0-6, 0-2) is struggling through a tough season, having been beaten by 42 points or more in four of their six games this year, including a 47-0 loss last week to Tillamook, a team that Banks beat 45-15.
'You just want them to get down there and take care of business in the first half,' Buchanan said. 'Hopefully things go well and no one gets hurt.'