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Defensive dismantling fuels first win

Sandy earns first win of the year, first of Barton era, behind strong defensive effort


by: JULI CHURCHILL - Sandy quarterback Justin Adams rushed for two touchdowns, including one of 45 yards, in a 14-6 win over Parkrose on Friday at Sandy High School.

At no point did it seem like Sandy had the game in hand. The Parkrose Broncos trailed,but were right there, within striking distance of erasing the deficit. The problem was their offense was handcuffed. The Pioneers’ defense, which had allowed 100-yard rushers in the first two games of the season, wouldn’t allow Parkrose to string together anything on offense.

It squashed the passing game, disrupted the running game, and on a night where its own offense struggled to score, the defense led Sandy to a 14-6 win at Sandy High School on Friday, marking the first victory for first-year head coach Greg Barton.

This game presented a similar challenge to Wilson two weeks ago. Parkrose ran its offense through Henry Vy — a running back who played quarterback on Friday because of an injury to the Broncos’ starter — much in the way Wilson did with Cory Hincks, who rushed for 183 yards against Sandy two weeks ago.

Both rushers were similar in style and build, and both have had tremendous seasons. But Vy didn’t have the success Hincks did against the Pioneers.

It was clear that Sandy’s run defense had made tremendous strides since that forgettable night, as Vy rarely find holes at the line.

“The best thing about the game — (Vy) is one of the best football players in the state,” Barton said. “He’s a lot like (Hincks). And our defense did a great job of containing him.”

Barton even told his defense before the game that Vy was a carbon-copy of Hincks. And everybody listened, especially Andrew Spencer, who recorded two sacks.

The defensive end was too fast for the Broncos’ offensive line, and he constantly found ways to plug holes at the line or create chaos in the backfield.

Maybe his biggest play came midway through the fourth quarter with Parkrose near midfield and trailing 14-0. On a crucial third-and-7 play, Spencer stuffed Vy on a designed run, which set up a long fourth-down that the Broncos failed to convert.

“For a junior, he made some big time plays,” Barton said. “He’s been a great surprise for us.”

Sandy defensive coordinator Rob Kool said: “He’s more athletic than most kids he’s going to face that will try to defend him. If you’re an offensive lineman, he’s a problem. When he’s playing well, we’re a really good defense.”

The defense was great and always stole Parkrose’s momentum.

After a solid punt return with 5:04 left in the third quarter, which gave the Broncos possession at the Sandy 49-yard line, linebacker Joshua Visan quickly ended the scoring threat with an interception on the first play of the drive.

It was that kind of night for Parkrose’s offense and the Pioneers’ defense.

Kool gives much of the credit to the players’ understanding of the new defensive system. When teams busted loose for big plays in the first three games, that was usually a result of blown assignments.

But Kool said there were very few on Friday.

“Our kids are steadily starting to understand our system better,” he said. “They’re being more disciplined, making less mistakes. They’re figuring out how to play this defense. I’m really happy with their performance.”

Sandy’s offense was hot and cold. Quarterback Justin Adams did have two rushing touchdowns, including a 45-yard run to give the Pioneers a 14-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.

But with the defense playing the way it did, it didn’t seem to matter how the offense performed, as long as it could just get a couple scores.

Parkrose did score a touchdown on a 33-yard pass from Vy to wide receiver Andre Johnson with two minutes left to cut the deficit to 14-6 — one of the few blemishes for Sandy’s defense — but the Broncos couldn’t recover the ensuing onside kick, and the Pioneers were able to run out the clock.

So it wasn’t the shutout that would have provided the exclamation point on the night, but it was still the best showing of the year.

“In the coming weeks, I hope we pick it up to an even different level,” Kool said. “I think we have the players to become a really difficult defense to face.”

Sports reporter Kristopher Anderson can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.