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Milwaukies big-play ability unsheashed against Sandy

by: JULI CHURCHILL - Sandy running back Jeremy Funk breaks around the corner looking for a big gain. But the Pioneers running game was quiet since they trailing early in the game.

When Sandy and Milwaukie squared off a season ago, it was a start-to-finish laugher. The Pioneers won — and virtually uncontested.

Then the off-season arrived. Both teams got new coaches, new goals, new work ethics and new attitudes.

The Mustangs’ road to success seemed a bit steeper than Sandy’s. Milwaukie finished the year 1-9 (0-7 in the Northwest Oregon Conference), while the Pioneers were a slightly more respectable 4-7 (2-5 in the NWOC).

Today, while Sandy is still trying to find its footing, the Mustangs are riding a chairlift to the top. They’ve trounced every preconceived notion of what a conference bottom feeder can accomplish in one summer. And last Friday at Sandy High School, their talent tour continued as they defeated the Pioneers 42-23 in a display of individual talent unimagined at this time last year.

“We knew they had speed. We knew they had athletes,” said linebacker C.J. Mckinnis III, who had an interception and an all-around outstanding performance. “We really keyed on them all week. Our scout team gave us a great look.

“I feel for the most part we shut them down, but they were athletes, and they made big plays.”

No scout team could truly replicate the kind of athletes Mikwaukie showcased.by: JULI CHURCHILL - One of the biggest plays in Sandys 42-23 loss to Milwaukie last Friday was a 58-yard touchdown pass from Justin Adams, above, to Karsten Short.

Yes, football is a team sport, but it proved that a couple players with sprinter speed can be unstoppable forces, capable of dictating the direction of a game.

Well, the Mustangs didn’t prove it. Richard Ramsey and Kendrick Bourne did.

The duo combined for five of their team’s six touchdowns and two interceptions, capable of a home-run play at any moment.

On the second play of the game, Ramsey juked, cut one way, cut back and sprinted his way to a 64-yard touchdown. On the first play of Milwaukie’s second drive, quarterback DaJuan Gant hit the speedy receiver, Bourne, for a 90-yard touchdown. And in less than five minutes, the Mustangs had a 16-0 lead.

“Not good,” Sandy head coach Greg Barton said he thought after the second score.

But luckily for the Pioneers, their most timely play of the year came when quarterback Justin Adams found Karsten Short for a 58-yard touchdown on the first play of the ensuing possession.

But plays like that are something of a rarity for Sandy. With Milwaukie, though, they are inevitable. It scored all six of its touchdowns from 35 yards out or more — the last, Ramsey’s 80-yard interception return for a touchdown.

But after the loss it’s unfair to say, “Look how much better Milwaukie got in one season. Why can’t we be like that?”

New players came gift-wrapped after coach Don Johnson took the job — that included Ramsey and Bourne, who both transferred to Milwaukie, which has an open enrollment policy, during the off-season.

Sandy has closed enrollment and evidently is at a disadvantage against schools that don’t. It’s essentially the Baltimore Orioles, screaming at the New York Yankees for acquiring the best players.

Barton has been on both sides of the aisle and saw the benefits of open enrollment while coaching at Jesuit.

“I know when I was at Jesuit, it was fun to have kids come in from other places,” Barton said. “My understanding is that Sandy is not going to allow that to happen.”

But to Milwaukie’s credit, as far as returners go, Johnson expected, and has received, big things from Gant, while 6-foot, 300-pound Jake Leary, who was an all-league lineman last year, is still doing damage.

Sandy, on the other hand, is building its talent from within, meaning its road to success has steps — not some kind of tram.

Barton is encouraged about the future of the program based on the freshmen and JV achievements this season.

But this year, there were no waves of transfers, no outside influx of talent, no quick fixes. The agony of defeat would have to come before the thrill of victory.

Friday was an example of two ways to build a program. Sandy went one way. Milwaukie went another, based on the cards both coaches were dealt.

And given that, the Pioneers will have to be patient.

“We’re going to have those kind of kids,” Barton said.

by: JULI CHURCHILL - Sandy held a ceremony before Fridays game to honor Jordan Cox, a Sandy High School student who died Sept. 21 in a car crash. Players, cheerleaders and fans wore purple.

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

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