All the stars appear to be aligning for The Dalles football.
Over the past two week, the Riverhawks have amassed 953 yards of offense and outscored their opponents 107-31. The defense has surrendered a combined 346 yards, forced three turnovers and totaled 19 tackles for loss in two wins.
Friday in Klamath Falls, Okean Green rushed for 194 yards, Gabe Helseth tossed four touchdown passes and the defense held the Henley Hornets to negative-45 yards rushing in a 49-18 state-opening blowout triumph.
“A major reason we came out so powerful is the amount of confidence we have as a team right now,” said TD senior Michael Armstrong. “We feel that there isn’t a team in 4A that we can’t hang with. Our groove is also due to our intensity level at practice. Over the last three weeks, we’ve stepped up the practice intensity, 10-fold, and it is really paying off in the long run.”
TD hit the end zone on three of its first four drives, with Okean Green scoring on a 29-yard run, and then Zac Anderson caught a 13-yard pass and a 1-yard pass from Helseth to run the lead to 21-6 at the half.
At the 8:11 mark of the third quarter, Mac Abbas hit paydirt on a 28-yard reception.
With the Hawks ahead by a 28-12 margin entering the final period, Green added an 11-yard reception to run the lead to 35-12.
After a goal-line stand thwarted Henley’s next possession, Green took a handoff and scooted 95 yards to the house, which increased the TD cushion to 42-12 with 10:08 remaining.
Henley scored its third touchdown on a 1-yard plunge by Cam O’Connor, his second score, to make it a 42-18 game at the 7:26 mark.
TD then put the final stamp on a lopsided victory with a 12-yard scamper by Ben Nelson, capping a four-play, 53-yard drive that ran 1:55 off the clock.
“Our offense is precise and surgical with drawing defenses outside and that leaves the middle wide open for our freight train to blast through,” senior offensive lineman Will Dunn. “Don’t even think about giving any of our wideouts any room, they will straight up jump out of the room and catch the ball right in front of your face.”
Offensively, the Riverhawks ran 68 plays for 532 yards, and they had 25 first downs, went 4 of 5 in the red zone and held a time of possession edge of 29:55 to 18:05.
Green carried the ball 12 times for 194 yards and a pair of scores, Denver Neill added 84 yards on 13 attempts and Helseth ended up with eight rushes for 48 yards.
Helseth completed 15 of 24 passes for 158 yards and four touchdowns, with Anderson hauling in seven balls for 83 yards and two end zone trips.
Jesse Larson notched 19 yards on four catches, and Abbas rattled off 34 yards and a score.
Starting place kicker Francisco Medina also drilled all seven of his extra point conversion kicks.
“The major differences we saw were probably just that our team seemed like the faster squad. I don’t think they were ready for us,” Nelson said.
Henley ran 55 plays for 175 yards, but had negative-45 yards rushing and 220 yards through the air on 36 attempts.
Jaxon Pullen notched an interception, Abbas and Seufalemua blocked extra point kicks and the Riverhawks added 10 pass breakups and logged eight tackles for loss.
Kade Wilson led the defense with seven tackles, Abbas had 4.5 tackles, Seufalemua tallied four tackles, and the quartet of Dusty Dodge, Steven Preston, Skyler Leeson and Green ended the night with three tackles each.
“Defensively, we saw that they liked to pass the ball, so we knew that we needed to take that away early and force them to run the ball and make mistakes there,” Armstrong said.
Up next, The Dalles (6-4 overall) hosts No. 15-seeded Tillamook at 1 p.m. Saturday at Sid White Field.
The Cheesemakers (7-3) pulled off a 19-14 upset road win at No. 2 Mazama Saturday in Klamath Falls.
“We go into next week against Tillamook and we know that they like to run a spread and throw the ball,” Armstrong said.
“We faced a lot of teams this year that we feel are better than Tillamook in that type of offense, so we have confidence knowing what we are going up against,” he added.
This is the first postseason home game, not a play-in, since 2009, when The Dalles-Wahtonka defeated Corvallis 17-7. The program’s last home postseason contest was during the 2013 season, when The Dalles-Wahtonka Eagle Indians lost to Franklin by a 43-36 score in a state play-in game.
TD hasn’t advanced past the first round since the 2009 season.
They are three wins away from winning the school’s first state championship since 1947.
“Every game from here on out is a must-win and it’s going to take everything to keep it rolling and that starts in the film room and in practice this week,” Seufalemua said. “This isn’t a place we’ve been before, so our focus has got to be laser. But, this is also a great moment and a great win for us, since it’s our first time making it this far in a long time.”