McKenzie River Reflections - Make the McKenzie Connection!

McKenzie Sports Report - Dec. 2

 

December 2, 2021 | View PDF



McKenzie Sports Schedule This Week

The McKenzie Middle School Girls Basketball team travels to Crow on Monday, December 6, for a 4:30 pm tip-off. The team will host Siltetz, on Wednesday,

December 8, game time also set at 4:30 pm.

And Then, Fifty And Sixty

The Fall of 1971 on the McKenzie had all the feel of another State Championship opportunity in the offing. The Eagles, led by Head Coach Wade Thomas, had run the table in 1969, finishing that outstanding season 11-0 to bring home McKenzie’s first Football State Championship. The next season (1970) - led by seniors quarterback Lannie McClure and running backs Alan Jones and John Garkow - the Eagles finished 8-1, good for second place in the Northern Division of the Evergreen League.

Building on the two previous, successful seasons, the 1971 Gridiron Eagles won the Class A 11-man Evergreen Title by defeating a tough, stubborn North Douglas team 14-12. The key to that win over the Warriors was the Eagle Blitzing Defense, led by All League Defensive Tackle Russ Gubka. Gubka, a senior, spent the majority of his time harassing and hurrying the Warrior QB, effectively setting up his Eagle teammates, Dana Burwell and Jim Billick, for seven sacks.

With the hard-earned victory, McKenzie advanced to the Oregon State Semi-Final game at Santiam. The Wolverines had wrapped up their own League title with a 6-2 record and carried a highly respected balanced offensive and defensive attack. McKenzie would counter with their own, outstanding, ground game, featuring Junior Running Back Dallas Scofield and Senior Quarterback Lannie McClure.

The Eagles traveled North as slight favorites based on McKenzie’s recent success and the fact that Santiam had not reached the playoffs since 1959. The Friday night Semi-Final contest up the Santiam River Valley started out dark and foggy and as the night wore on, it only got darker and foggier. The two teams, evenly matched, stood toe-to-toe and slugged it out. Neither offense could break down the other team’s defense and at halftime, the scoreboard, somewhat visible through the Valley Fog, still showed 0-0.

Following the halftime break, the teams’ defensive teams picked up right where they left off. After three quarters of smash mouth, the scoreboard had still not moved from 0-0. At the start of the fourth quarter, despite the cold, dark night, nobody had left the sidelines.

McKenzie, the smaller of the two teams, both in size and team numbers, had up to this point been very successful holding down the Wolverines’ 180 lb. star power running back, John Ruby. In fact, the Eagles’ tough, physical, blitzing defense had effectively beaten back Santiam’s offensive attack to where McKenzie held a total yardage gained advantage. The importance of that stat was key as the game wore down to conclusion.

Under OSAA State playoff rules at the time, the team that held the total yardage gained advantage would decide a scoreless game finish. All, fans, coaches, and players on both sides of the field that night knew what was at stake. As the game clock slowly wore down, Eagle fans were cautiously hopeful and Wolverine fans nervously concerned.

The big, deciding break finally showed up. Ruby put his Wolverine team on his back, powerfully rushing up field and scoring the game’s first touchdown following a 14-play, 70-yard drive, which started with eight minutes remaining. The Eagles’ bone-weary defense grudgingly gave up a second touchdown just one minute later, following a fumble.

Then, down two scores and with their running back Dallas Scofield headed to a Salem hospital with a concussion (he recovered fine), the Eagles (8-2) could not overcome the deficit, falling 14-0. Santiam advanced to the OSAA State Championship game to face and defeat Pilot Rock 21-6, their first State Football Title.

The 1961 McKenzie team concluded their season in the Emerald League with a 5-4, fourth place finish. Drain, the Emerald League Champion, would defeat visiting McKenzie, 29-7, to cap off an undefeated League run (8-1 overall) and advance to meet Phoenix in the Oregon State Class 2A playoffs. Phoenix would defeat Drain the next weekend, 20-6, on its way to capturing the State Championship, a 26-0 win over Central.

The Eagles lone score at Drain came in the fourth quarter when Junior Quarterback Dennis Baldridge found the League’s leading scorer, McKenzie’s Doug Hamby, on a 45-yard pass play to set up the score. The Eagle drive started on the McKenzie 35 yard line and culminated with Baldridge plunging in from the two-yard line. Baldridge would follow with successfully running in the extra point.

 

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