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Lions 4-1 after two wins on one night

Posted: Tuesday, Sep 25th, 2012

Photo by Jerry Thompson Junior Oscar Rauda led the Lions with 190 receiving yards and 57 rushing yards.

After watching the Ridgeview Ravens on video last week, Cottage Grove head football coach Gary Roberts had some second thoughts about scheduling the game with the Ravens. The Grovers’ original contest with Astoria was cancelled due to the team being suspended, so the Lions were assured of a win by forfeit, and a week off going into league play.

Instead, a few weeks ago before Roberts decided to take on Ridgeview, a new 4A school from Redmond based on just one game they had played. As it turned out after three games the new 4A school from Redmond arrived at Friday night’s game with Cottage Grove averaging over 48 points. It included a close loss to Klamath Union, ranked in the top 5 of the 4A. Roberts was concerned about stopping Boomer Fleming, the Ravens’ 5-9, 215 running back, who was the top ground gainer for 6A Redmond last season.

In addition, on the Ridgeview sideline giving morale support for their new head coach Andy Codding, was University of Oregon and NFL great Chris Miller, along with defensive mastermind John Marshall, who after leaving Oregon, coached linebackers and earned two Super Bowl rings with the 49ers. Marshall was also a defensive coordinator later with San Francisco, Carolina, Seattle and Oakland. Neither former Ducks are on the coaching staff, although Marshall wore a Ridgeview sweatshirt and appeared to be more than just a spectator.

Much like last week, the Lions stunned both the Ravens and to some degree themselves in a 53-26 rout of Ridgeview. Cottage Grove’s aerial attack struck quickly and often, building up a 21-0 lead after the first quarter. It was 33-0 with a few seconds left in the half until the Ravens’ running back Leslie Johns got loose for a long run and after he fumbled, teammate Jack Bowman recovered the ball and ran it in for six points as time expired.

The Lions still had the game well in hand, and the first half score could have been closer to 50 with a little more accurate passing, and a missed opportunity on first and goal from the nine where the Lions came up empty.

The CG boys’ first two touchdowns came on tosses from Scotty Hitner to Brian Spindler, one for 10 yards and another for 50 yards. With three minutes to go in the first stanza, Hitner connected with Oscar Rauda for 23 yards to the Raven three-yard line, from where Hitner punched it in to make it 21-0. Meanwhile, the Lions’ defense was constantly in Ridgeview’s backfield, stymying their attempts to run and pass.

“I thought Darren Voigt, Aaron Bloom, Shane Barker and Tyler Lehman did a great job up front on the defense,” said Roberts. “I thought those four were awesome for us tonight.”

A block of a Ridgeview punt and a fumble recovery by the Lions also contributed to the early lead. Just three minutes into the second quarter, after completions to Spindler for 24 yards and Rauda for 13 and 19, Hitner found Tanner Gates in the end zone to make 27-0. On the next Raven series, Brad Bonds and Aaron Bloom combined for a quarterback sack, and after a short punt the Lions wasted no time. On a third and 10 Hitner went to Bonds for 18 yards, and moments later connected with Rauda for a 25-yard touchdown to make it 33-0. The Lion receivers were constantly getting wide open, and the offensive line was giving Hitner enough time to find them.

“We knew early the areas we thought were going to be there, and to be honest, they came out different than we thought,” Roberts said. “We thought they were going to come out with a bunch of adjustments. They didn’t. They came out and played their defense, so we knew the areas we need to attack, then they made some adjustments and we attacked the other areas fairly well. And then they went to their press-man and brought the house. That was better for them. We didn’t work on that much this week, and we’ll work on it more. I’ll guarantee that.”

The second half saw the Lions again miss a first and goal from the nine-yard line as the Ravens’ Zachary Taylor intercepted a Hitner pass and returned it abut 93 yards for a touchdown. The Lions answered by going 71 yards in seven plays, a Hitner to Rauda pass play for 22 yards opened the drive and Hitner finished it with a three-yard run upt the middle to make it 39-14. Rauda and Spindler topped off the scoring, and the Lions allowed two late touchdowns in a very impressive victory for Cottage Grove.

“It’s nice to be 4 and 1, the only 4-1 team in the state,” Roberts said. “And it’s nice to be healthy. We finished 3 and 7 last year and now we’re 4 and 1. I think the kids are very excited about our team’s prospects…we know we have to get ready for league. Elmira, the defending league champions is at our place Friday night.

Elmira is not the same team they were last year when they won the Sky-Em and played in the 4A state championship game, losing to La Salle. Of course, neither are the Lions, who intend to make Friday night’s homecoming game a game that will erase the memory of the 56-13 loss to Elmira last year. This season the Falcons are 1-3 with losses to Siuslaw and Philomath, and a 7-6 win over Stayton last week.

For the complete article see the 09-26-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 09-26-2012 paper.

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