A season after taking second place in the state, the Cottage Grove football team began their foray into the season on the road at North Marion. And while it is difficult and dangerous to fall into the trap of judging a team based off of one performance, the Lions 56-0 drubbing of the Huskies seemed to be an indicator that this team will pose a problem for the future teams they face.
“We still need to make improvements but we’re back on the trail again and we’re going to keep it going,” said senior running back Juice Claflin. “I think we just pick up the little things and make it back there.”
On the Lions first drive of the game they were stopped after they went for it on fourth down but then came time for the defense to shine. Cottage Grove set the tone with a sack on the first play which was then followed up by an interception by Jacob Woods. Three plays later, Woods was on the receiving end of a pass from quarterback Dylan Graves that led to a 76 yard score to put the Lions on the board.
“This is a really good start for our season,” Woods said after the game. “I think we flew around really fast and we were doing all we need to do. But like I said, we still have stuff we need to work on but if we keep executing we can get to where we want to be.”
The Lions defense then forced the Huskies to a three-and-out but on the next possession Graves threw his only interception of the day. After the Lions defense forced another three-and-out, it was the offense’s turn to take over.
It started with the Lions deciding to go for it on 4th and two from the Huskies 45 yard line. Graves dropped back and found receiver Hayden Glenn who was untouched on his way to the end zone. After recovering a fumble, the Lions were off again and two plays into the second quarter Claflin made his way into the end zone on a one yard run that was set up the play before by a 14-yard carry from Chad Bottorff. After a broken play on the point after touchdown led to a touchdown the Lions were then up 22-0.
On the next drive, the Huskies began to show signs of life as they got their first first-downs of the game. Their drive was stalled after they were unsuccessful when they went for it on fourth down. This gave the Lions the ball on their own 41 and after a delay of game and a short reception by Glenn, the Lions then struck. Graves threw a backwards pass to wide receiver Erick Giffen’s. It looked like it was an arrant pass that was going to lose the Lions yards but instead Giffen’s then found a wide open Glenn downfield for a 60 yard score. Glenn finished the game with five catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
Up 29-0 with still 8:00 minutes left in the second quarter, CGHS continued to control the game from both sides of the ball. Marcus Julien’s interception set up the Lions for a score as Graves ran into the end zone from a yard out to put the lions up 36-0 with still over 5:00 minutes left in the first half. After forcing another punt, the Lions quickly found Claflin on a screen play that freed him up for a 59-yard touchdown to put the lions up 43-0 with 2:14 left in the half. The halftime whistle sounded and the Lions were up big.
Halfway through the third quarter Bottorff rushed in for a touchdown to put the Lions up 49-0 which then started a running clock for the remainder of the game because their lead was over 45 points. The Lions defense continued to shine and a late David Cox touchdown gave the Lions a 56-0 final score.
“It’s the first game, I know there’s going to be some mistakes and things like that but we are healthy and that’s probably the most important thing,” said head coach Gary Roberts. “We just have to continue to build and to put the time in and continue to play with confidence and we’ll get there; we’ll keep working.”
The Lions have their home opener on Friday night where they will host the Madras White Buffaloes. The White Buffaloes lost their first game last week 21-26 at The Dalles. Madras has gone two seasons in a row (2015 and 2016) without winning a game. Their last win, and only win of the 2014 season, was when they defeated Stayton 13-12 on September 19, 2014.