The Eagle/Angel Carpenter
The Grant Union Prospector football team lost a heartbreaking 2A state quarterfinals battle to Santiam 50-14.
Grant Union, entering the contest ranked fourth in state (8-1), hosted the Wolverines at Three Flags Field in John Day after winning the first round playoff 52-0 against Central Linn the previous weekend. Santiam was ranked fifth (9-1).
Santiam’s rushing attack dominated, with 400 yards over Grant Union’s 150.
The Wolverines forced six Prospector turnovers in all with three interceptions and three fumbles.
Santiam put a damper on Grant Union’s momentum early when defensive back Jordan Lanham nabbed an interception during the Prospectors’ first drive.
Wolverine running back Trevor Tinney followed up, rushing for a touchdown; however, Grant Union’s Cauy Weaver made the tackle on the conversion play.
Grant Union quarterback Wade Reimers was injured while running a keeper up the middle and came off the field, unassisted.
On the Prospectors’ final drive in the last seconds of the first quarter, Grant Union receiver Zack Deiter caught a 10-yard pass.
Grant Union trailed 6-0 going into the second, but kept marching for the goal.
Prospector running back Cameron Hallgarth and Reimers — back in the game — rushed for first downs, followed by another Hallgarth first down.
Deiter found a 10-yard path up the middle for Grant Union’s first touchdown in the game.
Reimers connected with Deiter for the two-point conversion, and the Prospectors gained an 8-6 lead.
Later in the quarter, Reimers came out injured again, and Kellen Shelley stepped in as quarterback.
Santiam scored a touchdown and two-point conversion on their next drive.
Deiter answered back, returning the kickoff for a touchdown to tie it 14-14.
Grant Union had a tough time putting the brakes on Wolverine running back Brody Davidson.
Davidson rushed 65 yards for Santiam’s next touchdown with Tinney adding the conversion points, and Santiam added eight more to the scoreboard to take a 36-14 lead at halftime.
Going into the second half, Prospector Russell Hodge kicked off, then immediately moved in to tackle Santiam’s Colton Craigmyle at the 50-yard line.
Prospector linebackers Elijah Humbird and Dillon Maley were in on another tackle, then Hadley Boethin sacked Santiam’s quarterback Colin Thurston.
Davidson slipped through for a fourth-down touchdown, the Wolverines kicking in the extra point, bringing their lead to 43-14.
Grant Union followed up with Hallgarth making a fourth-down conversion. However, Santiam got the stop at their own 26-yard line.
Davidson again slipped by on a toss play, rushing 60 yards for a touchdown on the next drive, and the kick was good, bringing Santiam to a 50-14 lead.
In the fourth, Grant Union didn’t score, but also didn’t allow Santiam to reach their goal line.
Grant Union head coach Jason Miller said losing their quarterback hurt, but he was still pleased with the effort from his team.
“The kids had to fill in spots — we did practice there, obviously, but it’s not the same,” he said. “Wade’s a play maker and a game changer, so losing him hurt, but the kids battled, and I’m proud of them.”
Miller said the Wolverines had speed, and their linemen and did a better job of blocking.
“They’re disciplined and they work hard,” he said. “They’re a good quality football team.”
Santiam head coach Dustin McGee said his team executed the game exactly as planned.
“We ran the ball hard, fired off the line of scrimmage and our boys played great defense right from the get go,” he said. “I’m very proud of them — looking forward to next week.”
Maley said over the season defense went through “bumps and bruises” but he was proud of how they played.
“I wouldn’t want to play with another team,” he said. “Santiam was a really good team that deserves to go on.”
Grant Union linebacker Ty McDaniel said he enjoyed the season and his team.
“I’m glad I came back to play my senior year,” he said.
“It was a great season and a great group of guys,” Miller said. “I’m going to miss these seniors.”
Although Grant Union is losing 11 seniors, Miller said they have plenty to look forward to next year.
“With the underclassmen coming up, we have some talent, some promising kids there, so I’m excited,” he said.