The three-time state champion Dufur Rangers capped a season with seven different players garnering all-state awards, led by Hagen Pence who was a first-team member on both sides of the ball and Player of the Year.
Curtis Crawford was a first-team recipient on both sides of the ball, Wade Blake had his name called as a first-team winner at offensive guard, and Ian Cleveland won a first-team award for his play at defensive tackle.
Junior guard Tabor McLaughlin picked up a second-team bid, and trio of Cleveland, Russell Peters and Asa Farrell received honorable mention honors.
From 2014 until now, Dufur head coach Jack Henderson felt there was a certain buzz in the locker room – an unbreakable bond that proved to be the driving force behind a historic three-year run.
“When I look at this group, I witnessed the amazing growth they have made from their freshman year, when some of them were on the field when we lost a state championship game that we probably shouldn’t have,” Henderson said. “But, they were undeterred and continued to work and develop as players. They have done an amazing job in accomplishing a third straight state championship. It is an amazing story.”
Due to his concise route running and soft hands, Crawford was always a reliable presence at tight end, as he posted a team-leading 25 receptions, on 36 targets, for 494 yards and nine touchdowns.
With his sack and tackle numbers at defensive end, Crawford had 151 yards for loss on those plays, recovered two fumbles and turned one of those into a touchdown.
In his final football contest, Crawford posted a season-high 11 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, recovered a fumble and added a sack.
“Curtis completed his career this season on a high note,” Henderson said. “Curtis was our leading receiver over his four years. His ability to seal the edge blocking from his tight end position was a luxury for the Rangers. During the 2017 playoffs, Curtis was a dominant defender. Although our opponents attempted to attack him, it didn’t work out for them.”
As a bookend on the offensive line, Blake dominated in the trenches to earn his first-team selection.
The senior allowed the passing game to rack up 29 plays of 20 yards or more and 10 plays of 40 yards or more on 135 attempts, to go with a completion rate of 63.7 percent.
Because of Blake’s play, the Dufur offense amassed 54 points or more in nine of 12 games, including a season-high in a 76-18 state-playoff home game against Lowell.
“Wade had stellar senior season at his offensive guard position,” Henderson said. “He worked hard in the offseason to prepare for the 2017 season and experienced the rewards, as he became a huge piece of our state championship puzzle. Wade’s ability to move people up front was a huge key to the Rangers’ success this season.”
Through the 1A state playoffs, wins over Lowell, Adrian, Falls City and Hosanna Christian, Dufur’s No. 6-ranked scoring defense (16.5 points a game) allowed 794 yards, 282 rushing, posted 15 sacks, forced 10 turnovers and an 8 for 50 conversion rate on third downs.
Cleveland wreaked havoc on opposing offenses with his relentless motor down in the trenches at defensive tackle with four sacks and two fumble recoveries to score first-team honors for the second straight year.
Against Hosanna in the 1A final, Cleveland led the Rangers with 14 tackles and notched a sack.
From his fullback position, Cleveland was second on the team with 59 rushing attempts, 588 yards and nine touchdowns.
“Ian completes his Ranger football career as an athlete that worked hard every day to improve his ability on both sides of the ball,” Henderson said. “Defensively, Ian was a great player in several different positions for us. He was difficult for anyone to block and flowed to the ball well all season long. Ian set an incredible example with his work ethic and his focus on improvement was inspiring.”
Known as a Swiss Army knife weapon for the Rangers, McLaughlin played multiple positions at a high level, but settled in nicely in the trenches opening holes for the offense.
In 12 games, Dufur rattled off 5,147 yards and 91 touchdowns, 3,595 on the ground with 59 scores.
“Tabor, although undersized for an offensive guard, was a stellar performer for the Rangers this season,” Henderson said. “His speed and quickness more than made up for his lack of size. His ability to pull effectively and pancake defensive ends was a key to our team’s success. Tabor has set the stage for himself to be a Player of the Year candidate next fall.”
As one of nine juniors returning in 2018, Peters possesses the right skill set to be a major cog for a Dufur team that has won 20 straight games over the past year and a half.
While Crawford and Cleveland leave some holes on the defensive front, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Peters is in line to be a force to be reckoned with.
“Russell shined as a defensive tackle for us,” Henderson said. “His strength, coupled with his ability to move well were keys to his success. Our opponents had a difficult time blocking Russell all season long.”
Shut out from postseason state awards in his freshman season, Farrell overcame an injury bug and was a first-team all-league winner and added an honorable mention selection to his record for his play at defensive back.
His progression should take another step forward, as he approaches athletics as an upperclassman in this program.
For the year, Dufur’s defense allowed 199 points, holding teams to two touchdowns or fewer five times, and gave up 20 points or less in seven games, with one shutout.
Under the tutelage of defensive coordinator C.S. Little, the Rangers also had 43 sacks, 126 tackles for loss, 14 fumble recoveries, 13 interceptions and three defensive scores during the 12-game season, a big boost up from the 2016 numbers.
Farrell had two of those interceptions and 22 tackles in seven contests.
In the final two games of the year, Farrell had 16 tackles, three pass breakups and an interception.
“Although hampered by injury for the bulk of the season, Asa became a dominant defender during the playoffs,” Henderson said. “His ability to fill holes and tackle backs that were bigger than he is, was a key to our success. Asa is poised to be a first-team all-state performer and Player of the Year candidate next season.”