Photo by Andrew Ottoson
Salmon River freshman lineman Keith Conner was a thorn in Kendrick's side all afternoon at the 1AD2 state title game on Nov. 19 at Middleton, where the Savages added another first-place trophy to their burgeoning collection.
As of Saturday, November 19, 2016
MIDDLETON Salmon River head coach Charlie Shepherd wasn't happy with his team's performance before halftime, but he was elated in the end. The Savages beat Kendrick 30-20 in the 1AD2 title game on the strength of three Canyon Harper touchdown runs, the second of which -- combined with his conversion run -- gave SRHS a 22-14 lead with just 20 seconds left in what had been a rough first half.
After the game, asked what had happened on each of his touchdown runs, Harper said the same thing three times in a row: "The big guys up front got it done."
Shepherd also praised the linemen, pointing particularly to Gabe Gonzalez drawing double-teams on the defensive side.
Neither team scored during the fourth quarter, as SRHS, leading by 10, went with run after run to bleed the clock.
Kendrick led briefly during the first half, pulling ahead 8-6 on Mason Hewett's 22 yard run late in the first quarter, then 14-6 on Blake Marker's six-yard sprint early in the second quarter.
Salmon River answered with Harper's 47 yard run down the Savages sideline, and knotted it at 14-all with a pass from Tucker Boyd to Harper.
Late in the second quarter, Salmon River advanced to the Kendrick 15, first-and-10 with less than two minutes to go. The Savages called timeout, ran the clock down to under a minute -- and ran into a third-and-nine from the 14. Harper ran it to the five, which was good for first-and-goal with about 35 seconds left. The Savages handed to him again for the score, and handed to him again for the conversion.
That was all the lead Salmon River would need, and Shepherd, with the Savages gathered in a semicircle in the north end zone, told them they could and must play better during the second half.
"It wasn't our best game, but the state title game is the one time when the outcome matters more than how well we played," Shepherd said after the contest. "Taking that hard look at how we did, I think that's one of the things that has allowed us to meet our ultimate goal year after year, which is to win this game."
Kendrick struck first in the third quarter, but still trailed after Marker's second touchdown when the conversion pass fell incomplete. Salmon River struck back immediately, converting a fourth-and-three as part of a five-play series that included a pass to Stephen Hackler followed by an 11-yard touchdown from Boyd to Clayton Shepherd. Harper's conversion made it a 10-point game, and forced Kendrick into an early end-game.
The Tigers attempted a halfback pass on fourth-and-10 at their own 28 with more than four minutes left in the third, after which the Tigers made no threatening plays as Salmon River's defense surged.
The championship marks Salmon River's second in a row, seventh overall and fourth since 2012.