Challengers return to familiar territory

Few football teams can claim to have the kind of postseason experience that Cascade Christian possesses: The Challengers are about to make their sixth straight appearance in the Class 3A state semifinals.

That said, Cascade Christian lost in the final last year, fell in semifinal contests from 2008 to 2011 and owns just one distant state crown (a 2A title in 2006).

To say the Challengers are hungry for gold would be a safe assumption, but to say the third-seeded squad is focused solely on its Saturday semifinal meeting with No. 7 Vale would be dead on.

The game is set for 7 p.m. at Summit High in Bend. In the other semifinal, No. 1 Dayton faces No. 5 Nyssa at 3 p.m. at the same venue. "We are excited about the opportunity, excited about this game and excited about how they will handle the adversity," Cascade Christian head coach Jon Gettman said.

The Vikings (10-1), who are the second-place team out of the Eastern Oregon League, feature a run-heavy offense led by sophomore tailback Zac Jacobs. Junior Josh Schoorl leads the pass game, which Vale doesn't shy away from either. The signal caller was 8-for-13 for 99 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his squad's 27-25 quarterfinal victory over Harrisburg last week. In that game, the Vikings denied the Eagles a late two-point conversion to tie the game before recovering the onside kick and running out the clock to advance.

Jacobs had 28 rushes for 108 yards in the win.

Schoorl passed for 229 yards and four touchdowns in a rout of Clatskanie in the first round.

After watching film of Vale, Gettman said the Vikings are "probably the most physical team we've seen."

"It'll be a battle," he said. "We'll have to be disciplined and just battle the whole way. ... They have athletes across the board, are extremely active on defense and challenge with the passing game."

Southern Oregon Hybrid champion Cascade Christian (10-2) will counter with its high-powered spread offense, which the club adopted during the offseason from Southern Oregon University. The Challengers have averaged 39.3 points per game (and that includes a 21-0 season-opening loss to Santiam Christian) and have put up 45 or more points in their last five games.

Senior signal caller Seth Knox has been a force, passing for nine touchdowns and 353 yards in Cascade Christian's 68-12 rout of Rainier in the quarterfinals last week. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound QB threw for six TD passes and ran for two more in his team's 56-7 victory against Pleasant Hill in the opening round of the playoffs on Nov. 8.

Knox is 148-for-227 for 2,093 yards (174.42 per game) with 29 touchdown passes and four interceptions.

Senior Cooper Clark owns a team-best 598 receiving yards on 41 receptions with nine touchdowns. Cody Parker, also a senior, is close behind with 54 catches, 548 yards and seven scores.

Parker leads the team in rushing yards (602 on 78 carries with eight touchdowns) and senior Jake Brown in carries (94 for 492 yards and five TDs).

"The kids have progressed and gotten better," Gettman said. "We just have to maintain our focus and work hard."

Vale's lone loss, a 20-19 decision against Nyssa, came on Oct. 18.

The Challengers lost to Dayton, 34-28, in last year's state championship. They beat Vale, 35-7, in the first round.

Cascade Christian lost to the Vikings, 20-6, in a quarterfinal game in 2007. The Challengers captured the 2A state title (the football program's first in its first finals appearance) in 2006. Vale beat Cascade Christian in a second-round 2A state contest in 2005.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email Find him online at or

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