DUFUR – Being part of a program that has won eight state championships, Cole Kortge knows what is at stake every time he and his Dufur Ranger teammates step on the gridiron.
There is a heightened sense of urgency.
That is why every snap and every moment is magnified.
Saturday at Dufur High School, Kortge and the No. 2 Rangers led 26-0 at the half enroute to a 50-12 victory in a 1A state football quarterfinal matchup against No. 7 Adrian-Jordan Valley.
With the win, the two-time defending champions advance to the 1A state semifinals, joining Triad, Hosanna Christian and Falls City in the Final Four.
“Ever since we were young, we have been looking forward to playing Ranger football and being a part of this legacy,” Kortge said. “Being able to be in the spotlight now, when looking at these last two seasons, where we were seeing (Bailey) Keever, (Kolbe) Bales and other guys making plays, it is nice to be in that spot taking over where they left off.”
Against what was the state’s No. 2 scoring defense that allowed 14.4 points a game entering Saturday, the fourth-ranked Ranger scoring offense ran 66 plays for 456 yards, 198 on the ground on 53 rushes, with Hagen Pence and Asa Farrell scoring twice to spearhead the running attack, and Curtis Crawford adding five catches for 135 yards and two scores.
Junior quarterback Derek Frakes tallied 67 yards and a rushing touchdown, hauled in an 80-yard receiving touchdown on a halfback pass from Pence and completed 8 of 13 passes for 178 yards and his two scoring tosses to Crawford.
“We knew Adrian was going to put a lot of guys at the line with six, sometimes seven or even eight people in the box sometimes, so it made it tough to run,” Dufur head coach Jack Henderson said. “We were able to run some, but we were actually able to throw. Derek has developed so much as a quarterback this year and we have a bunch of ends. Curtis Crawford was huge today, and Cole Kortge had some key catches as well. We just did what we needed to do and took care of business.”
Dufur scored four times in the opening half, started by an 80-yard halfback pass from Pence to Frakes at the 5:50 mark of the first quarter.
Frakes also added a 36-yard pass to Crawford, Pence plunged in from one yard out, and then with 4:14 remaining in the half, Farrell hit the end zone from three yards away to give the Rangers a 26-0 halftime lead.
Adrian-Jordan Valley managed 32 yards of offense in the opening half on seven possessions with five punts, a loss of downs, and an interception by Dufur’s Anthony Thomas.
“We did not come out and execute as good as we thought we would,” Fillmore said. “Their defense was a lot better than we thought. We weren’t able to run the ball the way we have all year, so we tried to pass. Usually our strong suit is our passing, but their defense played pretty good.”
Both teams combined for five touchdowns, 36 points in the third quarter, as Dufur answered a 50-yard run by Adrian-Jordan Valley running back Kirk Eiguren with back-to-back rushing touchdowns by Farrell (three yards) and Pence (18 yards) to expand the lead to 42-6 with 8:00 left.
Chase Fillmore then connected with Zeke Quintero on a 15-yrd pass play, inching Adrian-Jordan Valley to a 42-12 deficit, but on Dufur’s next possession, Frakes found an open Crawford for 39 yards and the final score.
Adrian-Jordan Valley finished with 170 yards of offense, 63 on the ground on 25 carries, and had five first downs, and went 1 for 10 on third down conversions, punted seven times and had four turnovers.
Dufur’s Tabor McLaughlin had a pair of red zone interceptions in the second half, Thomas grabbed an interception, Ian Cleveland recovered a fumble, and the trio of Crawford, Abraham Kilby and Russell Peters registered a sack apiece.
Fillmore completed 5 of 21 passes for 107 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, Eiguren notched 64 yards on eight carries, and Quintero posted a game-high 10 targets, but recorded 42 yards on two receptions.
“Our defensive line was getting in there putting pressure on the quarterback and it made it easier for the corners to lock in on their receivers and make plays,” McLaughlin said. “When you have those guys constantly forcing their quarterback to rush his throws, it makes everyone else’s job much easier. They were all over him.”
The undefeated Rangers take their 10-0 record to Liberty High School in Hillsboro at noon this Saturday for a semifinal showdown against No. 6-ranked Falls City.
On Saturday, the Mountaineers (9-1) pulled off a 30-10 upset win over third-seeded Camas Valley (9-2).
Both teams played on Aug. 31 this season at the Dufur Eight-Man Classic, a 50-12 Dufur victory.
A lot has changed over the past three months and that means McLaughlin and his teammates will not short-change what falls City is capable of.
“We just got to practice hard, come out strong against whoever we play and just keep moving with the momentum,” McLaughlin said. “We got to go out there with the mindset that the next team we play is the best out there and give it 100 percent. We need to do whatever we can to get the ‘W.’”
Before Saturday’s 1A state playoff contest, the Dufur football program honored military personnel in a Veteran’s Day ceremony.
Coach Henderson expressed his appreciation for the veterans and discussed the profound impact all the servicemen and women have had on his life.
“Our lives, the way we live, the liberties that we are afforded is because of the people that have laid their lives on the line through the years,” Henderson said. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans have given their lives, so that we can remain free. Military appreciation is oftentimes overlooked, but we teach these kids about the sacrifices these veterans have made, the hard work that they have put in and the spirit of what makes this country so great, and how that translates to their own lives. Our kids buy in to that. And that’s the great thing about them.”