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Hawks pick up first-ever state playoff victory

Football: Horizon Christian soars to a 33-6 win over Coquille
by: Tom Bachhuber GOOD FOR SIX — Horizon Christian senior Cameron Egger (21) reaches the end zone in the second quarter of the Hawks' state playoff victory over Coquille.

TUALATIN - The Horizon Christian Hawks won a state playoff football game for the first time in the school's six-year history with their 33-6 victory over the visiting Coquille Red Devils Friday in a Class 3A first round game played at Horizon Christian High School.

With the win, the Hawks move on to play the Cascade Christian Challengers this Saturday in a Class 3A state playoff quarterfinal game set to start at 3 p.m. at Crater High School.

The Hawks, in Friday's playoff opener, were in position to take an early first-quarter lead, but came up empty on their first two possessions, missing a field goal and fumbling the ball at the Coquille 25-yard line. After stopping a Coquille fake punt, the Hawks struck quickly as Zack Selland made a diving catch in the end zone on a 33-yard corner toss from Wyatt Houston with 1 minute and 33 seconds on the clock, giving the Hawks a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, the Hawks extended their lead to 12-0 with a six-play, 57-yard drive, which culminated with a 28-yard touchdown pass to senior Cameron Egger. The Hawks had an opportunity to extend their lead on the next possession, but three dropped passes and another missed field goal translated to no points.

With three minutes left in the half, the Hawks had not given up a first down and were 'controlling' the game, but only had a 12-0 lead to show for it. It only took one play for Coquille to get back in the game, as senior Derrick Yarnell popped outside on a counter and took the ball 76 yards down the right sideline for the score with 2:53 left in the half. Although Horizon had outgained Coquille by 208 yards to 84, the score was only 12-6 at the half and the Sunset League champs from southern Oregon were still in it.

After trading punts to start the third quarter, Horizon finally put together consecutive scoring drives to really take control. Junior Taylor Grimmett took a middle screen pass 28 yards for a score, capping off a 54-yard, six-play drive with 5:15 left in the third quarter. After Horizon recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Grimmett scored the second of his three second-half touchdowns from nine yards out, giving the Hawks a 26-6 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Grimmett also scored an insurance touchdown on a four yard run in the fourth quarter, and he tacked on all three extra points in the second half, making the final score 33-6. After a rough first half kicking the ball, Grimmett redeemed himself by scoring all 21 points of the second half. Grimmett also led the Hawks in rushing with 64 yards on 11 carries, while Selland led the Hawks with 10 catches for 141 yards. Wyatt Houston completed 20 of 31 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns.

The real story of the night belonged to the swarming Hawks defense, however. Coquille came in averaging 36 points per game, but the Hawks held them to the one long touchdown run and only four additional first downs, all in the second half. Senior Ryan Sederstrom was in on 17 tackles, while the Cardoza brothers (sophomore Devyn and senior Seth) were in on 10 and 11 tackles respectively.

The playoff game was the last home game for all nine seniors on Horizon's squad, but Ryan Sederstrom and center Zach Nielsen deserve particular mention as the only seniors that played all four years. Nielsen not only played, he has been the starting center for each and every game in his four-year career, a notable achievement at a very tough position.

Cascade Christian brings a 9-2 record into Saturday's state quarterfinal game. The winner of Saturday's contest will face either Santiam Christian or Nyssa in the semifinal round.