Tiger title chase comes to an end

By John L. Braese

The Enterprise

HILLSBORO – In 30 seconds Saturday afternoon, some coastal Pirates ruined the Ontario Tigers football season.

Two quick strikes put Marshfield ahead of the Tigers and the Coos Bay team never looked back, defeating Ontario 48-28 in the 4A semifinal game.

The Pirates took the ball on the Marshfield 30-yard line after an Ontario punt with only 31 seconds left in the first half.

On the first play, quarterback Grant Woolsey found receiver Gary Stover for a 60-yard catch.

Then came the surprise.

Marshfield caught Ontario off guard with an onside kick and recovered the ball on the Ontario 42 with 18 seconds left in the half.

Woolsey took the snap, flipped the ball back to Justin Banks, who then hit Kellar on a 42-yard strike.

Instead of the half ending at a 14-14 tie, the Pirates went into the locker room with a two-score lead.

“Those were two huge plays, but in a playoff situation, you need to be ready for anything,” said Ontario Coach Erik Johnson.

Marshfield extended the lead in the third quarter on a six-yard touchdown run.

Ontario started on the comeback trail.

Rolling down the field, Ontario quarterback Mike Mejia connected with Dallon Hauter in the corner of the end zone to place Tiger points on the board.

On Ontario’s next possession, a 13-play drive ended with six points as the Tigers showed their own trick play. Wide receiver Andy Sanchez took a direct snap, flipped the ball to wide receiver Andy Hawker, who then threw to Mejia for the score. That cut Marshfield’s lead to 35-25.

The Tiger defense couldn’t contain the Pirate offense on the next possession though. After a 69-yard run down to the Ontario 4-yard line, a short pass into the end zone put the Pirates up by two scores.

Marshfield closed out the game with a 31-yard scoring run.

Mejia picked apart the Pirate defense most of the night, going 33-for-54 for 488 yards, three scores and one interception.

“Marshfield has a stout defense and were stopping our run game,” Johnson said. “Their defense is extremely well disciplined and when we got behind, we had to throw.”

Hawker had 12 catches for 195 yards and two scores and Sanchez ended his season catching 11 balls for 166 yards.

The Tigers end the season with an 8-3 overall record and a Greater Oregon League title for the second consecutive year.

“We have not won in Baker in how I don’t know how many years and got that this year,” said Johnson. “We upset Banks over there at their place. Of course, you want to advance, but this has been a great year.”

Johnson said the year started well during summer drills and continued to get better with each game played.

As for the future, there is good and bad, according to Johnson.

“We have some seniors at the skill positions that will be hard to replace, but we have a great group of juniors coming up,” he said. “Ontario football will be fine.”