Banks football team hits even record with big showing last week

by: CHASE ALLGOOD.  - Banks Quarterback Garrett Markham gains some yards on quarterback keeper. Homecoming is a right of passage in high school. Throughout the week, there are festivities and student activities. For one week, high school students are reminded that they are part of a community. That reminder is even more poignant at a small high school like Banks. The culmination of homecoming week is always the football game followed by the school dance.

But the dance is not nearly as much fun if the football team losses. The Braves football team took that responsibility very seriously.

“It’s one of the biggest games of the year,” Banks coach Ben Buchanan says. “The kids have been jacked up all week long with festivities. Friday night is the culmination of homecoming and it means a lot. The guys understand that the win is important and there’s lots of people there. It’s always a big game for us.”

From start to finish last Friday night, Banks took it to Seaside High School. The offense was outstanding and the defense was nearly impenetrable, giving up one touchdown during garbage time in the fourth quarter while cinching the win.

“We came out with a lot of emotion,” Buchanan says. “We played really disciplined football. Offensively, we mixed it up really well and used our speed and made plays. Defensively, we gave up 140 total yards of offense. They flew to the ball and made good reads and didn’t give up big plays. That’s what this team is capable of playing like. We had a couple of tough losses in a row and they reacted to them very well.”

Buchanan outlined some of the game highlights. “Nolan Hill, one of my wide receivers had a couple of touchdown catches. Dakota Kemper, my starting running back, had a couple of rushing touchdowns. He ran really hard. (Quarterback) Graysen Partain was 10 for 10 passing. Defensively, Neal Olson had an interception and could have had another one. The whole (defensive) unit really played well. They played maybe one series in the second half and then they were done. It was a quick night for them but they took care of business.”

The win made Banks 3-3 (1-1 in the Cowapa League) going into this week's home game against Yamhill-Carlton. Part of the reason for the Banks .500 overall record is that the Braves played against tough competition this preseason in an effort to boost their RPI ranking so that they did not end up with a low seed in the playoffs like they did last season.

“Last year we ran into an issue where we had some poor preseason opponents,” Buchanan says. “We ended up league champs, yet our RPI, we were like 20. We really ramped up our preseason schedule to make sure that we didn’t get caught in that position again.”

While the tougher competition has not helped Banks in terms of the Braves wins and losses, it has made them a better football team as a whole.

“You’re facing some teams who really give you fits and it forces you to try to adapt and figure out solutions for those kinds of situations,” Buchanan says. “It’s only going to help us in the long run because we know what our weaknesses are. They were exposed a little bit against LaSalle — a team we should’ve beat — and Scappoose. But, those are the kinds of situations that you want to be in. If you don’t ever put yourself in those positions then come playoffs you’re not going to be able to deal with them.”

With the 54-29 league loss against Scappoose, the pressure is on the Braves not to lose again if they want to have a shot at winning the Cowapa League, and or get a good seed in the playoffs.

“We’ve lost to Scappoose and we can’t afford to lose another one,” Buchanan says. “We all know that the seeding for playoffs is extremely important. You want to get a home game and hopefully some good draws. You don’t want to finish third and end up on the road. Every game counts and we’re going to take it one at a time.”

As the Braves know from past seasons, even if they do not win the league championship, it is still possible to make some noise in the state playoffs.

“The year that we played in the state championship in 2008, we weren’t league champs,” Buchanan says. “It’s not the end all if we don’t win the league championship. We know that making a good run at the playoffs is just as rewarding.”

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