Game recap: Warriors make history with first state football title

By Jason Casey

For Lebanon Local

A dramatic season of dreams came to a storybook finish on a rainy night Saturday, Nov. 26, as Lebanon beat Wilsonville 34-17 to win its first state football championship in school history.

It was the culmination of a long process, Coach Ty Tomlin said.

“It is kind of hard right now for me to put it into words,” said Tomlin, who grew up in Lebanon and played for the Warriors himself. “I know for me it is really humbling.”

He said this year’s team was a “special group” and coaches thought early on that this might be a big year for Lebanon.

Quarterback Ty Hargis said the championship was a goal for team members.

“This means everything,” he said. “This is the reason we came together in the sixth grade as Pop Warner kids. It was a goal of ours to win a state title eventually. We bought into what Coach Tomlin was teaching to us four years ago and it just means everything. The community rallied around us and it was a great team win.”

Hargis himself was a big key, finishing the game with 81 yards passing and 94 rushing with three touchdowns – two through the air and one rushing.

The first quarter was ugly. Rain poured down amid gusts of wind and the temperature was frigid. Lebanon turned the ball over on downs and punted. Wilsonville punted and missed a 49-yard field goal.

Wilsonville drew first blood when running back Andrew Merrick took a handoff and sprinted 41 yards down the right side of the field for a touchdown with three seconds left in the first quarter.

Lebanon’s first touchdown came after Hargis scrambled for 32 yards to the Wilsonville 45, then handed off on the next play to Nathaniel Maddox, who burst up the middle for 45 yards to score with 9:10 on the clock.

On the next drive, Wilsonville quarterback Connor Neville, who is committed to play at Washington State, threw an interception, but the Warriors got called for roughing the passer. Neville was injured on that play and did not return. Backup Nathan Overholt came in and played the rest of the game. Wilsonville finished the drive with a 38-yard field goal giving the Wildcats a 10-7 lead at halftime.

Lebanon came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders in the second half.

Tomlin said he told players to trust “each other” and the coaches and get the “little things” right.

“We made tiny little checks that we need to do. I think we kind of reaffirmed that we deserved to be here. We just needed to perform and do what we have done all year long.”

After limiting Wilsonville to four plays on its opening drive,  Lebanon took possession and ran a reverse on third-and-20 and got 17 yards, setting up a fourth-and-3. The Warriors converted the fourth down. After that fourth-down conversion, the game took a swing in their favor.

Wide receiver Jackson Hoene caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Hargis to give Lebanon a 13-10 lead.

“We had practiced for so long, (we said) ‘Just run it and see what happens,’” Tomlin said of that scoring play.  “It worked out – just ran it, their end bit, Hoene made a great adjustment, Hargis threw a good enough ball so Hoene could make a play on it and he had to make a great play, and I think that was kind of the moment when our kids came onto the sideline, and at that point it was 27-17.”

“I think the biggest difference between the first and the second half was definitely our blocking,” said Hoene said. “Up front we kind of pulled it out, and that led to big running games, and that opened up the pass. From there it was just easy passes to the end zone.”

Tomlin said his offensive line told him they had things under control.

I thought, “OK, these are our guys. They got us here, let’s ride them and make this happen.

“Then you’ve got Maddox chiming in my year, “Yep, let’s go.” It kind of became a no-brainer in the second half. We were going to pound this thing away a little bit, and that set up some of our throws that we had. It’s really a testament to those guys having faith in what they do and giving me a ton of confidence to say, “These guys want it. Let’s run behind them.”

Wilsonville fumbled on the next drive, and the Warriors’ Kalib Graham recovered at the Wildcats’ 45.  After Maddox gained a yard, Hargis took advantage on the next play, scoring on a 44-yard quarterback keeper up the left side to extend the Warriors’ lead to 20-10.

On the ensuing kickoff, Wilsonville took the kick back for an apparent touchdown, but it was called back for an illegal blind-side block. The Wildcats shook off the penalty and drove 93 yards, capping it with a 14-yard scoring run by Cooper Mootz to bring the score to 20-17 with 1:55 to go in the game.

Wilsonville stopped the Warriors at its own 35 on Lebanon’s next drive, but Overholt set up a screen pass waiting on his running back, and Lebanon’s Brenton Rice read it all the way for an interception to get the ball back.

Hoene caught his second touchdown pass from 19-yards out it, and it effectively ended the game for the Wildcats. He would add another 21-yard touchdown catch on fourth and long with 1:27 to go to give the Warriors their final score.

Hoene finished the game with three catches for 62 yards. All of his catches ended in the end zone.

“[Hoene]  was man-to-man,” said Hargis. “I was like , ‘OK, that’s my boy. I have got to throw it up to him. He ran great routes, the line gave me time and we just executed.”

“It was mostly the run,” said Hoene. “Once we got those corners’ eyes in the backfield, we can set them up with different routes and our quarterback made great throws, and from there it’s easy. You’ve just got to catch them.

The Warrior rushing attack, led by Maddox with 179 yards and one touchdown, was the difference in the game. They out-rushed the Wildcats 289 yards to 135 and were virtually even in passing yards, Hargis finishing 4-14-1 for 81 yards, with two touchdowns, and four sacks.  Wilsonville’s quarterbacks finished 12-27-1 for 119 yards. Lebanon’s defenders finished with three sacks. Merrick led Wilsonville with 83 yards on nine carries.

“The execution for us and the offensive side especially,” said Hargis. “They were doing a good job in the first half getting us off our game. We talked some about it and executed in the second half.”

“We have seen growth in everything: character, numbers in our players – we have a lot more guys out then we had before,” Hoene said.  “We just kind of bought in to what he was teaching from the get-go over the four years. We kind of piled onto what he was saying and eventually it led to a great team and we ended up here.”

There may be more to come, he added.

“(Underclassmen) have been here the whole time working just as hard as us we have got a lot of us that are even playing for us tonight. They can be the leaders and carrying on what will hopefully become a great tradition at Lebanon High School.”

The Warriors finished 12-1 overall, 5-1 in league. The loss left Wilsonville 11-2 overall, after a 6-1 league finish.

“It feels amazing for the school. The first in Lebanon history it’s amazing. We came back like we usually do and picked it up in the second half,” said Maddox.

“I am just proud for our kids and proud for our community,” Tomlin said. “I am very humbled that I get to be part of this with this group of kids. I am super thankful for my staff that I have.”

Scoring Summary

Lebanon      0 7 13 14 34

Wilsonville  7 3     0 17

First Quarter

W – Andrew Merrick 41 run (Austin Kness kick) :03

Second Quarter

L – Nathaniel Maddox 45 run (Timothy Tuomi kick) 9:10

W – Austin Kness 38 FG  1:00

Third Quarter

L – Jackson Hoene 22 pass from Ty Hargis (Kick failed) 5:13

L – Hargis 44 run (Tuomi kick) 4:11

W – Cooper Mootz 14 run (Kness kick) 1:55

Fourth Quarter

L – Hoene 19 pass from Cole Sipos (Tuomi kick) 8:21

L – Hoene 21 pass from Hargis (Tuomi kick) 1:27

Individual Statistics

Rushing: Lebanon – Nathaniel Maddox 30-179; Ty Hargis 15-70; Tanner Sallee 7-26; Cole Sipos 1-15; Clyde Rood 1-5.

Passing: Lebanon – Ty Hargis 4-14-1-81; Cole Sipos 1-2-0-19.

Receiving: Lebanon – Jackson Hoene 3-62; Tanner Sallee 2-38.