Braves will host rival Astoria this week with a regular-season Cowapa League title on the line
For the fourth straight year, the Cowapa League football championship will be decided when Banks and Astoria square off.
The two rivals positioned themselves for yet another title clash with easy wins last week - Banks beating Yamhill-Carlton 48-7 and Astoria earning a 63-12 victory over Seaside. That means both teams will be undefeated in league play when Astoria visits Banks this Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
'This is a huge game,' Banks coach Ben Buchanan said. 'This is the fourth year in a row for the title.'
Banks won the crown last year thanks to an 18-8 victory over the Fishermen in both teams' regular-season finale, and Astoria won it in 2009 with a 30-3 triumph over the Braves. Astoria also brought home the league title in 2008, and Banks fans will remember that the two Cowapa League rivals eventually met in the Class 4A state championship game that year, with Astoria winning, 19-11.
The rivalry will be as intense as ever in 2011, with sixth-ranked Astoria (7-1, 4-0) bringing its high-octane spread offense to visit seventh-ranked Banks (6-1, 4-0) and its potent ground game.
'This is how it shakes down,' Buchanan explained. 'Can Astoria slow our running game down? Can we prevent being 'big played' by Astoria? Who can push their style of play? Astoria will spread you out and we will pack it in.'
Banks tuned up for Friday's title clash with a dominant performance against Yamhill-Carlton. The Braves scored three times in the first quarter, getting long touchdown runs from Dakota Kemper and Shea Rue to build an early 21-0 lead that was never threatened.
Kemper scored on runs of 26, 21 and 5 yards in the first half and finished the game with 182 rushing yards. Rue scored on runs of 54 and 10 yards, and also tossed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Schillereff in the third quarter. Rue was 8-of-21 passing for 132 yards and he also rushed for 100 yards on nine carries.
Graysen Partain had Banks' final touchdown, an 18-yard run in the fourth quarter that provided the final 49-7 margin of victory.
'We got off to a great start,' Buchanan said. 'We ran the ball well and Dakota had another great night. It was a really physical game, but we came out of it healthy.'
Now the Braves must prepare to face Astoria and its high-scoring offense, which comes into Friday's game averaging 41 points and 430 yards per game.
'They have a great quarterback in Conor Harber, and we can't allow him to hurt us with his feet,' Buchanan said.
Harber has done his best Jordan Poyer impression this year, powering Astoria's spread attack with 2,600 yards of total offense and 35 touchdowns. The junior is completing 52 percent of his passes while also averaging 8.3 yards per carry.