COTTAGE GROVE -- In any sport at any level, it's tough to repeat as back to back champions, and Cascade Christian found that out the hard way in the 3A state title game, falling 44-14 to top-seeded Rainier. The No. 1 Columbians had both a matchup advantage and an undying belief in the system it runs, and for those two reasons, they were able to spoil the Challengers repeat state title bid.
"It's a wearing offense and it takes its toll," Cascade Christian head coach Jon Gettman said after the game, "You get a lot of third downs and that just breaks your will after a while."
"I'm still surprised and confused and I'm definitely going to be watching a lot of film," senior Luke Smith said, "We've been going up against teams like these ever since I was a freshman. These same shove it down your throat kind of teams."
Rainier calls its offense the diesel and against an undersized Cascade Christian team, the Columbians looked like an 18-wheeler. The Columbians attempted just three passes all game long, and let running back David Katon and quarterback Joey Tripp shoulder the load. Katon ran 175 yards and four touchdowns while Tripp scampered for 261 yards and two scores on 34 carries.
"I think Joey Tripp is a heck of a player. It may look like he's down and then he gains three or four extra yards and that wears on you," Gettman said, "Their offensive line did a great job, big physical group of kids. They deserve all the credit, they just wore us down and wore us down and broke us."
The loss marks the end of 10 Cascade Christian seniors' high school careers. They are a group that hadn't lost a 3A game as upperclassmen until Saturday and one that reached back-to-back state title games.
"You can erase the loss and the championships, it's the fact that I'm never going to play with these guys again. This is my family and I'm never going to get to play with any of them again," Smith said, "That's what hurts the most."
"It's hard to wrap my mind that it's over. It's kind of crazy to think about," senior John Fralich said, "Freshman year I never thought it was going to get over. You blink your eyes and now you're at the last game of your career."
Following the loss, Smith put things into perspective: "If I could have one more game or win this state championship, I'd take that one more game."
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