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PREP FOOTBALL: Rams win second half -- and first state title in 60 years

Big plays, defense carry Central Catholic to 38-28 victory over Jesuit in hard-fought 6A final


by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The 2013 state champion Central Catholic Rams pose for photos, moments after they climaxed a 14-0 season with a 38-28 victory over Jesuit in the Class 6A title game at Jeld-Wen Field.The Holy War state championship game quickly turned into a clash of titans Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field.

It was a dichotomy between two teams built differently. Central Catholic High relied on the big play with its stars in the backfield. Jesuit methodically moved the ball up and down the field.

In the end, Central Catholic made more plays and won the Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A title 38-28.

It was the first state championship appearance for the Rams (14-0) since they captured back-to-back titles in 1952 and 1953.

“It’s unbelievable to think that it’s been 60 years since our school and our community had this opportunity,” Rams coach Steve Pyne said.

And, he added, “It was our hardest fought battle of the year, for sure.”

With temperatures in the 20s throughout the afternoon, Central Catholic and Jesuit exchanged blows into the fourth quarter, with the lead changing seven times.

The Rams finished with 399 yards of total offense (320 rushing), while Jesuit had 308 total yards (225 rushing).

Central Catholic got a stellar performance out of running back Ryan Nall. The Oregon State-bound senior, when able to turn the corner on sweeps, was almost unstoppable.

Nall took 11 carries for 195 yards (17.8 average) and scored three touchdowns on runs of 49, 90 and 24 yards.

“I busted through some holes and made some plays,” Nall said. “Our downfield blocking was terrific.”

Nall’s backfield partner, Cameron Scarlett, was not as lethal as he has been but still was able to take 10 carries for 78 yards and dash 47 yards for a third-quarter TD that gave Central Catholic a 35-28 lead.

“Our O-line opened holes,” Scarlett said. “Ryan Nall led for me and the perimeter receivers were blocking and everything was going well.”

Jesuit’s counter to Nall and Scarlett was Chase Morrison. The 5-10, 175-pound junior gained 217 yards on 43 carries. Morrison had 30 carries for 159 yards in the first half.

He wound up with three touchdowns, scoring from the 1, 12 and 2, all in the first half. The last one gave Jesuit a 21-20 lead at the break.

“We did a great job of executing at the line of scrimmage,” Jesuit coach Ken Potter said. “Our offensive line has just jelled all year, and Chase Morrison runs really hard.”

In the second half, the Rams began keying on Morrison and more or less shut him off.

“We made some adjustments at halftime that made a difference,” Pyne said.

Jesuit’s only touchdown in the second half came on a 4-yard pass from quarterback Eric Restic to Henry Mondeaux.

Restic, a 5-11, 160-pound sophomore, was 5 of 16 passing for 83 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions.

Central Catholic quarterback Aidan Wilder, a senior who is heading to Portland State, gave the Rams their first touchdown when he took a 35-yard keeper into the end zone.

Wilder carried five times for 51 yards. He threw only 11 times, completing seven for 79 yards. His ability to throw the ball at least a little bit, though, gave Central Catholic a balance to its offense that helped the run game. Wilder also completed several big passes on third and fourth downs to extend drives.

“We didn’t throw the ball much, but when we had to come up with big plays, we made big plays,” Nall said. “Our line blocked, our receivers ran good routes, and I just did what I had to do to get the ball there.”

Central Catholic’s final two, decisive scores came off exceptional special teams and defensive plays.

After the Crusaders tied the game 28-28 with 4:10 remaining in the third quarter, Central Catholic return man LaMar Winston took the kickoff to the Jesuit 38. The Rams initially went backward on the drive, but Winston’s kick return set up Scarlett’s 47-yard touchdown.

On Jesuit’s next possession, Nall picked off a Restic pass and returned it down to the Jesuit 42. Central Catholic was able to move to the 2. One fourth-and-goal, Emmett Dooney knocked an 18-yard field goal through the uprights, making the score 38-28 with 10:12 left.

Trailing by two scores, Jesuit’s offense began sputtering as the Crusaders tried to go outside of their game plan by passing the ball more often rather than plodding down the field with short runs.

The Crusaders (11-3) were playing in their first state championship game since losing to Sheldon 50-43 in 2009. Jesuit has not won a state championship since claiming titles in 2005 and 2006.

After Saturday’s game, played before an announced crowd of 6,158, Crusaders coach, Ken Potter was tearful as he talked about how special his 2013 team has been to coach.

“It was a great group of kids who had great chemistry,” Potter said. “We played a great championship game. We just didn’t quite have enough there at the end.”

Nall had an enormous smile on his face as he talked about Central Catholic football standing on top of the state of Oregon for the first time in six decades.

“To do something that people haven’t done in 60 years … it’s a amazing,” Nall said.