Cougars pounce on Lions in season opener

The Lions could never get much of anything going against a Cascade Cougars team that looks to be formidable in 2019. Here the team heads off the field to shake hands with the opposing team then board for the long bus ride back to Cottage Grove.

From commentator quotes to “coach-speak”, sports are filled with clichés. “On to the next one” is an oft-heard mantra pointing to the need to move on from letdowns, allowing a team to focus on the road ahead. For Cottage Grove football, they will most definitely be looking to move on to next week.

In a struggle on both sides of the ball from the outset of the first quarter, the Lions were defeated by the Cascade Cougars 55-6 on Friday, Sept. 6 at Cascade High School in Turner, Ore.

“We have a lot of players that haven’t played a varsity game before. We have a lot of guys where today was their first varsity experience, so whether it’s jitters or nerves or things like that, those are things that are hopefully now past us and we can move on and get better,” said Chad Smith after his inaugural game as Cottage Grove head coach.

Cascade showed their experience in all phases of the game. Their defense swarmed to the ball, the offense looked smooth and explosive and the end result was a difficult matchup for a team lacking in experienced varsity players. Nonetheless, week one is not the time to make firm conclusions about a team’s season-long outlook. Regardless of talent and experience, there are always kinks to work out early in the season.

“I think everyone played and they played hard. The kids did what we asked them to do,” said Smith in regards to his young squad. “We’re going to watch film and see what we need to improve on and see some things we can do to get better … Usually your biggest improvement is from week one to week two so that’s what we’re looking to do … We can’t let this loss affect the rest of our season, so we watch this to get better tomorrow and then move on to Crook County on Monday.”

The Cougars won the coin-toss and elected to receive; it was a small, early victory that portended the rest of the game. Cascade scored their first touchdown within the first 90 seconds of the game and closed the first quarter with a short-yardage score run by senior running back Ethan Coffey.

Things didn’t improve from there as the Lions struggled all night to contain Coffey and sophomore quarterback Jacob Hage, the leaders of a dominant running attack that never seemed to let up. By halftime, the score was 41-0 and the Cougars never looked back.

“Cascade is always good. They have people that run hard, work hard. They got big strong kids and they changed their offense this year. That’s a tough offense, especially week one, to prepare for and that’s just the way the cards fell. I fully expect them to be at the top of their league so it’s a good showing of where we need to be and how hard we need to go,” Smith said.

The Lions finally punched in a score late in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard passing strike from backup quarterback Logan Lowery to Jacob Dunn.

Ultimately, Cascade outgained the Lions 337-20 on the ground and Hage finished the game 6-6 passing for 112 yards and a touchdown, also adding seven carries for 126 yards and an additional three scores.

In this game, the experience gap was insurmountable. The good news? Cottage Grove now has no other choice but to move “on to the next one.”

“Now we’ve got that stuff out of the way, so we just have to move forward to next week and not let this game beat us twice,” Smith said.

The Lions will look to get back on track at home, Friday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. against Crook County.


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