Banks shuts out the visiting Indians on a wet night to take the inside track to a Cowapa League title

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Banks senior running back Jerod Barger looks for a way around Scappoose defensive back Joey Krupsky during Friday's Cowapa League opener. The Braves won the game, 21-0.Banks got back on the right side of this rivalry — in a major way.

Playing the reigning Cowapa League champion for homecoming, the Banks football team, spurred by quality performances from Jerod Barger, Garrett Markham and the entire defensive unit, turned back Scappoose 21-0 at a soggy and slippery Kelly Field on Friday.

With the victory, Banks (5-0 overall, 1-0 Cowapa League) solidified itself as one of the favorites to claim this year’s league crown after losing it a year ago to the Indians (3-2, 0-1) following a 54-29 drubbing in the league opener. Prior to 2012, the Braves had taken every contest between the two programs starting with the 2007 season.

Standing in the rain after Friday night’s victory, Banks coach Ben Buchanan noted that the 2012 defeat was already forgotten. Big wins have a way of doing that. Buchanan’s team won by three touchdowns, but the way the Braves played, it felt like more.

“The snapping situation tonight, we haven’t had that problem all year, so I don’t know what the anomaly was, but that hurt us a lot and kept us out of the end zone a couple times,” Buchanan said. “But overall, I thought the guys dealt with the adversity. They kept plugging away and played a great defensive game.”

As Buchanan alluded, center Kyle Bossert had trouble with some of his snaps in the slick, wet conditions. Those errant snaps sent Markham, the Braves’ quarterback, scrambling for the ball and trying to make a play on several occasions, but despite those difficulties Banks racked up close to 400 yards of offense.

“I just thought, you know, I gotta make the most of it and I gotta help him out,” Markham said. “I knew what he was doing was really hard. It’s really hard to get that ball out, so I just wanted to do the best I could just to get that ball back to the line of scrimmage, get as many yards as I could.”

Barger also had plenty to do with the home team’s success on offense, rushing for 95 yards and scoring all three touchdowns.

After a scoreless first quarter, the senior running back helped the Braves pick up some momentum late in the second period. Banks drove deep into Scappoose territory and Barger made a 2-yard plunge into the end zone with just 29.9 seconds remaining in the first half to tally what would prove to be the game-winning points.

Given the relatively low-scoring game, Barger set the tone for the second half with his next touchdown, which came early in the second half. After taking a short pass from Markham near midfield, Barger barreled up the ride sideline practically unscathed for a 62-yard score with 10:51 left in the third quarter.

Barger gave Banks plenty of breathing room with his final score, another rush from 2 yards out, this one coming 25 seconds into the fourth quarter. He was forced to leave late in the game, however, after suffering an injury to his left ankle.

“It was a good night,” said Barger, who was moving a bit gingerly on the sore leg after the game. “The line was blocking well, making good plays. Just right spot at the right time.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Braves were absolutely stifling. They gave the Indians no quarter, frequently forcing them to go three-and-out.

“Defensively, I thought the key was we shut the running game down, which really forced them into being one-dimensional, and that’s kind of crucial when you’re playing Scappoose, especially when you’ve got field conditions like this,” Buchanan said.

Among the highlights, Joey Bonin recorded an interception, and Dylan Malouf, Enrique Smith, Dylan Bigsby, Hayden Johnson and Michael Cherry combined to sack Scappoose quarterback Taylor Loss seven times for a total loss of 40 yards. Bigsby led the defensive effort with 16 total tackles — including four for losses — while Bonin (11), Markham (10) and Smith (10) also hit double figures in total tackles.

Markham defied the rainy weather at quarterback for the Braves, going 15-of-21 for 261 yards in the air, including the long third-quarter touchdown pass to Barger. Bonin proved to be Markham’s favorite target, with five receptions for 74 yards. Nolan Hill added three catches for 65 yards.

“Garrett played another great game,” Buchanan said. “He didn’t throw an interception, he threw the ball really well, scrambled for his life at times and still made some positive yards out of nothing.”

With the victory, Banks jumped up to second in the OSAA Class 4A power rankings. The Braves are slated to play three of their four remaining regular season games on the road, starting this Friday evening at Seaside.

The upcoming contest is a showdown of undefeated squads, as the 12th-ranked Seagulls also sport a 5-0 record after opening up league play with a 55-0 thrashing of Tillamook last week. Seaside has scored 239 points on offense while allowing only 14 on defense.

At this point, Buchanan is ready to take on all comers.

“Right now, after this win, sky’s the limit,” Buchanan said. “We feel like we can run the table now in league. One game at a time, obviously, but this was the big game to get out of the way early.”

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