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Spartans Destroy Visiting Wildcats, Advances to 5A Semifinals

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Alex Shoemaker, EDN

Wilsonville tried to battle it out with Marist on Friday night.  Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the Spartans took their undefeated season one game further with a 49-14 victory in the 5A OSAA quarterfinals.

Senior wide receiver and safety Taylor Walcott had another monster performance with four touchdowns and an interception, all in the first half. This game became a one-sided affair in a hurry, much like nearly every Marist contest this season. 

The Spartans (10-0) started with an 80-yard dive to open the game that lasted 4:44. Marist’s Greg Park finished the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to put the Spartans up 7-0. Then in Wilsonville’s first drive, the Wildcats converted an early 4th down conversion in their own territory but came up short on a second try later on in the drive. Taking over on downs, the Spartans marched the ball down the field and eventually punched the ball in for the score on a 2-yard run by James Banks. The Spartans now had a 14-0 advantage.

Wilsonville’s next drive ended with another failed fourth down conversion.  After taking over on downs, Marist capitalized with a 50-yard run by Park on their first play. Then Kamerun Smith would connect with Josh Paiement on a 17-yard TD pass to put the Spartans up 21-0. Smith has been one of the most efficient starting quarterbacks in 5A football, completing 39 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions.He has been successful mainly because of his trio of explosive wide receivers: Paiement, Austin Baird and Taylor Walcott. Walcott has been the definition of domination on both sides of the ball with over 1,000 yards receiving on the year and a team leading five interceptions on defense in 2011.

On Wilsonville’s next drive, running back Tanner Shipley threw an interception on a trick-play to Baird (playing as defensive back).  The turnover eventually led to a Marist 4-yard touchdown pass reception by Walcott. Shipley has been the focus of Wilsonville’s offense also season long, rushing for 1,151 yards on 108 carries for an incredible 10.66 yards per carry (all numbers prior to Friday night’s game). That means that he is averaging a first down every time he touches the football. For that matter, Shipley has also been a standout defensive back with a team high of five interceptions on the year.  The fact that Marist slowed him down was a critical reason why they won on Friday.

Wilsonville fumbled on its next possession giving their opponents fantastic field position. Marist took advantage of the good field position and punched the ball in on 12-yard pass play to Walcott, his third of the game. The Wildcats’ next drive ended in yet another failed fourth down conversion, eventually leading to a 6-yard touchdown pass to Walcott, his fourth and final of the game. In Wilsonville’s ensuing possession, Walcott showed his defensive skills after picking off a throw by quarterback Jacob Haqq.

Turnovers have been the anchor to the Wildcats’ offense with 16 on the season (eight fumbles and eight interceptions). Starting quarterback Jacob Haqq has eight of those miscues (seven interceptions and a fumble lost). While Haqq has struggled with consistency, he has had a solid senior season overall. He played his role of game manager well and led the Wildcats to a 9-2 record. However, no team has proven capable of dethroning the Spartans so far.

With the clock winding down in the first half, Marist completed a 68-yard bubble screen to Walcott again for his fourth and final score of the half. The clock wound down to just 0.3 seconds remaining after the touchdown. Marist’s two wins prior to Friday featured 47-0 leads at halftime. It didn’t appear that they would outdo that this week against far better competition, but the 49-0 lead at the end of the second quarter begged to differ.

The second half featured far less excitement with the two scores being a 5-yard touchdown run by Jayden Cooper and a 4-yard run by Nick Highberger.  That brought the final score to 49-14 Marist.

The Wildcats’ season is over and they are out of contention for the 5A State Championship. With their solid base of junior players, led by Shipley, it is likely Wilsonville will be back and better than ever in 2012.

As for the Spartans, they will play the Mountain View Cougars in the semifinals on Nov. 25th in Salem on a neutral field. Marist has yet to play Mountain View on the year and they are more than capable of pulling an upset.

The game will feature two explosive offenses full of speed, and the Spartans will have their biggest test yet. That being said, Walcott said his team is looking to build on their recent success.

“We played a good game,” stated Walcott. “We want to keep with the solid play and hopefully we go far.”

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