The Grant Union Prospectors will face the Monroe Dragons at 1 p.m. Saturday in Monroe in the OSAA state playoffs.
Grant Union earned the playoff spot after defeating the Weston-McEwen TigerScots 16-0 Friday night in John Day.
“These guys deserve it,” said Grant Union head coach Jason Miller. “They’ve worked so hard, played hard — they deserve the post season.”
Miller said it was a team effort that got the job done.
“Everybody is working hard and making things happen,” he said.
Grant Union linebacker Devon Stokes moved Grant Union in the right direction in the first quarter, recovering Weston-McEwen’s fumble on the TigerScots’ first drive.
The Prospectors marched it down the field. On fourth down, quarterback Garrett Lenz handed off to Russell Hodge to keep the drive alive.
Prospector Justin Hodge gained 15 yards on a carry for another first down, followed by Russell taking it another 15 yards for the Prospectors’ first touchdown.
Lenz scored the 2-point conversion on a keeper.
Weston-McEwen, led by head coach Travis Glover, continued a drive in the second quarter.
TigerScot running back Dylan Kane made a long run to the 5-yard line, but Prospectors Russell Hodge and Justin Hodge pushed him out of bounds to bring up third down.
Prospector Taylor Hunt then tackled Kane in the backfield, and Weston-McEwen lost yards on the next play.
Miller said he was impressed with his team’s “great defensive effort.”
“We held them, and they didn’t score,” he said. “That’s all heart right there.”
The first half ended with Prospector Jordan Hall breaking up Weston-McEwen quarterback Kelen McGill’s pass.
Grant Union came out on fire in the third.
Prospector Isaiah Hagopian made a fair catch at kickoff near midfield. On the drive, blockers allowed Russell Hodge, Justin Hodge and Hunt to push toward the goal line.
Lenz scored a touchdown as well as the 2-point conversion on keepers, to give Grant Union their 16-0 lead.
Weston-McEwen had a fourth-down conversion on their next drive, but on their next fourth down, Prospector defensive lineman Drew Lusco was key in a big stop.
Grant Union took the ball back at their own 17-yard line.
Near the end of the fourth, the Prospectors recovered the TigerScots’ missed snap.
As the seconds wound down, Grant Union had a fourth-down conversion when Lenz found an opening for a big gain.
“That last play got us a first down and sealed the deal. We ran the clock out then,” Miller said. “It was a gutsy effort.”
“Drew as always is just tough inside on both sides of the ball,” Miller added. “Our linebackers stepped up and were making plays. Garrett Lenz, he just at times puts us on his shoulders — made it happen.”
Lenz said he was happy with the team’s performance.
“We knew it was going to be a tight game, and we just went out there and showed them how to play some football,” he said. “A big shout-out to the linemen, yet again. They did some good blocking up front to get us the runs that we needed to pound the ball into the touchdown.”
The win means Grant Union finished second in the 2A Special District 6, behind Heppner — the top two in the district moving on to the playoffs.
Grant Union is ranked No. 17 among OSAA’s 2A teams (their adjusted playoff ranking, or APR, is No. 16) with a 5-4 overall record and 3-1 in 2A Special District 6. Over the season, they’ve scored 202 points and allowed 166 points.
Monroe is ranked No. 1 with an 8-1 overall record and 5-0 in 2A Special District 3. Over the season, they’ve scored 328 points and allowed 123 points.
Early in the season, Grant Union hosted Monroe in John Day, the Dragons taking a 20-8 win.