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Braves pound Valley Catholic to set up finale against Astoria

Banks cruises to a 42-7 league victory over the Valiants


Banks took care of business against Valley Catholic last Friday night, posting a 42-7 victory that put the Braves in position to lock up the Cowapa League’s No. 2 spot in this week’s regular season finale against Astoria.

Valley Catholic (2-5, 0-4), which has struggled after losing three captains to season-ending injuries, didn’t put up much of a fight on Friday night and Banks (4-3, 3-1) raced to a big win. The Braves rushed for 280 yards and three touchdowns, Nick Eberhardt kicked a pair of field goals and the Banks defense limited the Valiants to minus-29 yards after their first three possessions.

All that added up to a lopsided win that kept Banks in a tie with Seaside for second place in the league. The Seagulls wrap up the regular season on Friday at home against league-leading Scappoose, while Banks travels to fourth-place Astoria.

“If Scappoose takes care of business against Seaside, we should get the No. 2 spot,” Banks head coach Ben Buchanan said. “Being No. 2 in the league was kind of where our goal was. With the way we struggled early in the season, trying to find our identity and losing a couple of games we probably should have won, I think finishing No. 2 and getting a home playoff game is something we should be pretty happy about.”

Banks goes into this week’s regular season finale riding high after a win over Seaside on Oct. 9 and Friday’s dismantling of Valley Catholic.

The Braves opened the scoring with a 26-yard field goal from Eberhardt, followed by a 3-yard touchdown run from quarterback Jake Evans that put Banks on top 9-0 at the end of the first quarter. Evans added a 9-yard scoring pass to Jaron Malcom that made it 17-0 at halftime.

Banks’ defense got things rolling in the second half when Donny McClean scooped up a fumble and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown, and Eberhardt tacked on another field goal to push the lead to 27-0.

Jake Sandhagen put an exclamation point on the victory with a pair of long touchdown runs in the fourth quarter — the first a 27-yarder, followed by a 55-yard scamper that made it 42-0. Valley Catholic scored a late touchdown to account for the final margin.

“Defensively we played a great game. We didn’t allow them to do too much,” Buchanan said. “Offensively we weren’t too sharp, but we did enough to win. They tried to stop the zone run and did some pretty good things in the box against us.”

Evans, who had a breakout game against Seaside with 117 rushing yards, was held largely in check by the Valley Catholic defense, which keyed on the sophomore quarterback. He finished with 45 rushing yards on 16 carries and completed 8-of-16 passes for 78 yards.

“They gameplanned to take the big runs away from Jake and he tried to force it a little bit,” Buchanan said. “Seaside wasn’t prepared for it because we hadn’t come out in the spread look before that game, but Valley Catholic was ready for it and they did a good job of taking away his zone reads.”

McClean picked up the slack with 109 yards on 13 carries, and Sandhagen rushed for 90 yards on six carries.

Defensively, McClean had 12 tackles, 2½ sacks and the third-quarter scoop-and-score. Malcom, Trevor Thiessen and Dylan Bigsby also had fumble recoveries, while Brock Smith and Holden Partain each had an interception as the Banks defense forced six turnovers.

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