Braves get bounced from the playoffs with a stunning 28-19 loss to 12th-ranked Henley

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Banks wideout Andrew Santa Maria gets dragged down during last Friday's state playoff loss to Henley.Most high school state playoff teams end their seasons in defeat.

Still, the Banks football team likely did not expect the end of its season — not this season — to come so swiftly or in such a manner as it did on Friday night at Hare Field in Hillsboro.

Banks was one of few teams in the state that never trailed in a regular-season game, going 9-0 to win a Cowapa League title and earn the No. 5 seed for the Class 4A state playoffs, but the Braves spotted Henley a 21-0 first-half lead in the teams’ first-round playoff game on Friday night. Banks tried desperately to rally in the second half, but ultimately fell short in a 28-19 loss that brought a brilliant season to a premature end.

“I’m not going to take anything away from Henley,” Banks coach Ben Buchanan said. “We just did not play well defensively. We give up 21 points in the first half, and we fumbled twice in the first half and lost both of them. Moved the ball well but just didn’t put points on the board. Puts you in a real tough position.”

In a contest that was played on the turf at Hare Field instead of at Kelly Field because of poor field conditions, the fifth-ranked Braves fell to 9-1, while the 12th-ranked Hornets of Klamath Falls improved to 8-3 and moved on to a Class 4A state quarterfinal matchup at No. 4 Ridgeview this Friday.

In that tough spot Buchanan mentioned, trailing by three touchdowns at the intermission, the Braves responded.

“The second half, we knew we really kind of had to play a pretty perfect half to give ourselves a chance, and we almost did,” Buchanan said.

In fact, they tightened the contest all the way to 21-13 partway through the fourth quarter.

Banks got a 2-yard touchdown run from Mykah Rosa and a point after from Aaron Streblow to finally crack the scoreboard in the third quarter. And after Garrett Markham hit Andrew Santa Maria for a 9-yard scoring strike in the final stanza, the Braves were in business, trailing by just a single possession at 21-13.

But that was as close as Banks would come. Henley scored on a 9-yard run from Josh Overstreet — who played a role in all four of his team’s touchdowns — to open up some breathing room again at 28-13.

Markham did hit Devin King for a 66-yard scoring bomb to trim the margin to 28-19, but the Braves were unsuccessful on the two-point conversion, which kept their deficit at two possessions.

“Defensively, I think we spent a lot of time on the field,” Buchanan said. “They were tired, and we just couldn’t get the stop there at the end of the game when we needed it to get the ball back in our hands.”

Revelatory in just how much Henley had the ball, the Hornets ran 71 plays compared with 49 for Banks. Not surprisingly, the Braves trailed in total yardage, though not by much — 388 to 369 — despite the discrepancy in plays run. Henley also committed no turnovers in the contest, while Markham lost two fumbles in the first half and also threw an interception.

“To their credit, they came out, put pressure on us, and things needed to happen a certain way, and they did,” Buchanan noted. “Because of that, we exited the playoffs early.”

Overstreet opened up the scoring early in the first when he found Kelly Greif from 9 yards out for a 7-0 first-quarter lead. That was how the score remained until the second period, when the Hornets built on their advantage with 29-yard and 2-yard Overstreet rushing scores and an Overstreet-to-Greif two-point conversion.

Markham went 6-for-12 for 149 passing yards with two touchdowns in his final high school game. He also led Banks’ ground game with 18 carries for 124 yards.

Jerod Barger added 54 rushing yards on nine carries and Rosa ran eight times for 42 yards and that first Banks touchdown. Dylan Bigsby led the Banks defense with eight total tackles.

The loss brought an end to the high school careers of the 19 seniors on Banks’ roster, including Markham, this year’s Cowapa League Offensive Player of the Year, as well as fellow all-league first-teamers Joey Bonin, Nolan Hill, Hayden Johnson, Rosa and Streblow.

While the end may have seemed premature, this fall was full of highlights for the Braves, whose nine-game win streak carried them to the Cowapa League title and, at one point, the top ranking in the state among Class 4A squads.

“For the seniors, it’s never easy. The finality is hard to deal with,” Buchanan said. “For most of those guys, it’s the last football game they’ll ever play. And they’re a ... pretty tight group, and they care for each other a lot, so it was really hard.

“But they get it, too. They know that they’ve made a lot of great memories and made history by going 9-0 and getting a league championship. Those things, nobody can ever take away from them.”

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