COTTAGE GROVE -- Behind 24-13 in the first half, the Cascade Christian football team stormed back for 36 unanswered points while shutting out Amity's high-powered offense in the second half to punch its ticket back to the 3A OSAA state title game.
The Warriors' West Streeter opened the scoring with a 13-yard touchdown run, but the Challengers immediately responded with a 13-yard touchdown of their own, a Kiegan Schaan to Ian Fralich strike, cutting the lead to 8-7. Amity marched right back with a 72-yard touchdown run from Jonathan Mather to extend the lead to nine.
Right before the end of the first quarter, Schaan found Cade Sample from 19 yards out and after a failed two-point conversion, Amity still led 16-13. The Warriors stayed on the ground and capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive with a one-yard Mather touchdown, making it 24-13.
Cascade Christian's answer came seconds later as John Fralich took back the ensuing kickoff 63 yards to the house. All of a sudden, the lead was cut to 24-20. Getting the ball back with just 1:32 to play in the half, the Challengers went to work and their four-play, 50-yard drive was ended with a Luke Smith two-yard touchdown run to give Cascade Christian the 26-24 lead into half time.
After the break, the defense pinned its ears back and the offense didn't relent. Schaan finished a 10-play, 72-yard drive himself with a nine-yard touchdown scamper that pushed the lead to multiple scores. Unfortunately, in the third quarter, senior WR/DB Ian Fralich got hurt and head coach Jon Gettman confirmed Fralich suffered a broken collarbone.
Even without Fralich, one of the their most productive receivers, the Challengers continued to pile on. John Fralich made up for his cousin's absence with his second touchdown of the day, this one a six-yard touchdown catch. Ethan Hoffman added a 37-yard field goal to make it 42-24 and Smith scored his second touchdown of the day on the ground to cap off the 49-24 blowout win.
"Honestly, that first quarter was absolute trash and if we went along with that, we would've lost," Luke Smith said after the game, "But we got in there and turned the switch on. We got the nerves off in the first quarter, shook them off and went to work."
The Challenger defense shut out a Warrior offense in the second half that was averaging 56 points a game. Without Ian Fralich, Cascade Christian will take on top-seeded Rainier in the state championship game next Saturday. A win would give them their fourth state title in 13 years and would be the first time the school has ever won back-to-back state crowns.