Maybe it didn’t have the slight-of-hand flair Lincoln showed in its Wing-T offensive scheme, but South Medford’s running game was plenty effective Friday night in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
Initially set in motion by senior fullback Trent Snyder before giving way to senior Jaylin Parnell and junior Terrence Butler, the fifth-seeded Panthers put together a ground-and-pound offensive that was relentless in dismissing the No. 12 Cardinals for a 42-14 triumph at Spiegelberg Stadium.
“Offensively they were tough to stop,” said Lincoln head coach Wes Warren. “…They definitely wore on us, for sure. We were more tired in the first quarter of a game than we had been in years.”
South Medford (10-1) will look to flex more of that muscle next Friday when it plays at No. 4 seed West Salem in the Panthers’ first state quarterfinals game since 2008. The Titans (10-1) scored 13 straight points in the final six minutes to rally past Grant, 33-24, in their second-round clash.
Since the school opened in 1986, South Medford has yet to move past the quarterfinal round. West Salem last reached the semifinals in 2014.
“It kind of gives us a little validation,” Panthers head coach Bill Singler said of reaching the Elite 8, “but we have to take it one step at a time. We know that we’re still climbing the mountain and the view’s getting a lot better, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
On Friday, the Panthers proved they weren’t afraid of a little hard work in claiming the 200th triumph in school history.
With a veteran offensive line setting the tone to go with solid blocking on the perimeter, South Medford saw Parnell (17 carries, 105 yards, two TDs) and Butler (14 carries, 126 yards, one TD) each eclipse the century mark as the team racked up 363 yards rushing and 493 yards in total offense.
“Those guys are never going to quit,” Parnell said of linemen Michael Cormier, Brandon Ditty, Daniel Shenk, Dylan Davis and Martin Laupola. “And if the other team wears down, that’s when we really get them because the offensive line is never going to quit. Those guys are scrappers.”
Snyder’s 60-yard scamper to the end zone on the fourth play of the game got it all started and he added a 3-yard touchdown on South Medford’s second series before finishing with 89 yards on seven carries.
“We talked during the week in preparations how we wanted to trade off the runs,” said Snyder. “Jaylin was talking about how they were going to be prepping for him — and he’s the offensive player of the year for our conference — and he said I’ll just go with the fake and you get the ball and it’ll be wide open. It was just next man up and he had a really nice block off the edge (on my first TD) and I went for six (points) and we just kept the running going.”
That 14-0 start may have been exactly what South Medford wanted, but it was on special teams where Snyder may have made the biggest play.
After Lincoln scored on a 9-yard run by Nick Ostmo, the Cardinals got the ball back and were mounting another steady drive until the Panther defense held firm at its 19-yard line. With Harry Sohn lining up a 29-yard field goal attempt, Snyder was able to break through and get a hand on the ball to push it off target.
“I shot the gap and I got my left hand on it and it was just an awesome feeling,” said Snyder.
That feeling got much better moments later as senior quarterback Robbie Patterson quickly guided the Panthers downfield, using a 33-yard pass to Jaalen Owens to set the stage for a 19-yard TD pass to Chase Cota with 36 seconds left in the half to make it 21-7.
“That blocked kick, it crushed the momentum for us,” said Warren, noting his team felt as if it had its plan dialed in after South’s early surge. “Then when they moved down the field and it could’ve been a 14-7 game at half and it was 21-7, that took a little air out of our sails.”
Patterson finished 14-for-17 for 130 yards and one TD in the first half and never had to make another throw as South Medford’s ground offensive simply took over in the second half, amassing 210 of its 363 rushing yards in the final 24 minutes with a big boost from Butler to finish things off.
“Trent comes in and scores a touchdown on the first drive and I know they weren’t ready for him,” said Parnell, “and then Terrence comes in and does a great job, too. Both of them have just done a great job all season. It doesn’t only have to be me, we’re a great team. It’s not just individual players, it’s a team game for us.”
After Parnell scored his first TD, Lincoln broke loose with a 67-yard by Ostmo to set up a 1-yard TD dive by Ethan Stahl to make it 28-14 with 5:27 to go in the third quarter. Ostmo, who finished with 221 yards rushing on 19 carries, was coming off a win over Lakeridge in which he ran for 242 yards and six TDs.
“That was one of the toughest running backs I’ve ever had to take down,” said Parnell. “I think anybody on this defense would say that. That kid ran his feet, he could run you over, he could juke you out, he could do it all.”
As South was able to do all night, however, senior Peyton Shipley supplied an immediate answer when he returned the ensuing kickoff to the Lincoln 33-yard line. Parnell scored four runs later to make it 35-14 in only two minutes of elapsed time.
“That was huge,” Singler said of Shipley’s return. “Now we’ve got the field position back and we’re in four-down territory and we take it down to score again to get that three-score bulge.”
SOUTH MEDFORD 42, LINCOLN 14
At Spiegelberg Stadium
SM — Snyder 60 run (Owens kick)
SM — Snyder 3 run (Owens kick)
L — Ostmo 9 run (Sohn kick)
SM — Cota 19 pass from Patterson (Owens kick)
SM — Parnell 8 run (Owens kick)
L — Stahl 1 run (Sohn kick)
SM — Parnell 2 run (Owens kick)
SM — Butler 5 run (Owens kick)
Lincoln — Ostmo 19-221, Stahl 10-42, Emmens 2-(-7), Elsener 4-43, Easton 4-10, Kovalev 2-21.
South Medford — Parnell 17-105, Snyder 7-89, Butler 14-126, Patterson 1-18, Cota 2-19, C. Boster 2-6.
Lincoln — Emmens 1-8-1 3.
South Medford — Patterson 14-17-0 130.
Lincoln — Hill 1-3.
South Medford — Cota 4-32, Owens 1-33, Parnell 6-43, Snyder 3-22.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry