Challenger cousins keep it all in the family
When thinking of his grandfather Andy, Cascade Christian junior Peyton Maurer likes to tell a story from his childhood.
“I remember him picking on me a little because I like my Whopper without all of the toppings,” recalled Peyton. “He’d just get the Whopper as it is. He’d get the whole thing and he’d tell me to eat it all.”
It was all about appreciating all of the fixings.
And Andy Maurer was not going to have it any other way.
It’s a reminder, in a way, to Peyton Maurer that grandpa was always teaching, even though it wasn’t on the football field. And for Peyton Maurer and teammate/cousin Triston Wallace, keeping grandpa’s legacy alive in the same program he founded is very much at the front of their minds whenever they take the field.
“Every day when I wake up I’m reminded of what he started and what he’s done for this program,” Wallace said of Andy Maurer. “And being able to step on this field is a great honor.”
“I just remember his big smile,” continued Wallace, “and him always laughing and chuckling and messing around with us. He was always fun to be around.”
As the Challengers get ready to play for another Class 3A state title on Saturday afternoon against No. 1-seeded Kennedy, the existence of the Cascade Christian football program can be traced back to one man — Andy Maurer.
The branches of the Maurer tree are aplenty no matter if it’s on the football field or the basketball court.
The Maurer family stretches three generations at Cascade Christian, with twin brothers Peyton and Austin Maurer and Wallace being the latest trio to come through the doors.
But there’s no denying who it all starts with: Andy.
Andy Maurer, who was born in Silverton and proved to be one of the best athletes to ever come out of Prospect High, played college football at the University of Oregon and then in the NFL after being a third-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 1970. He also played for the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos.
He played in two of the first 12 Super Bowls, as he started at guard for the Vikings in Super Bowl IX and later for the Broncos in Super Bowl XII.
It was in 1992 when he started a football program at Cascade Christian, with the goal of showing that you can still be of Christian faith and also play a tough brand of football.
“He really started it on everybody being a good man and not just a good football player,” said Wallace, a senior running back/linebacker.
In his near-two decades as head coach at Cascade Christian, Andy Maurer amassed a 100-78 record as the Challengers made the transition from 1A up to 3A. Cascade made the state playoffs six times during his tenure, including winning the 2A state title in 2006 before moving up to 3A.
Now 30 years later, the Challengers have had just two head coaches — Andy Maurer and the guy he handpicked to be his successor, Jon Gettman.
Between then and now, Andy Maurer’s son and Peyton’s dad, Marty, has also played football at Cascade Christian before going on to play at Oregon State. Marty Maurer was part of the Beavers team that went to the 2001 Fiesta Bowl and was inducted into the OSU Hall of Fame last fall.
Andy Maurer passed away in 2016 after a long battle with cancer.
“I feel kind of honored to carry on his legacy every time I put (the Cascade Christian uniform) on,” said Peyton, who is tied for the team lead with six touchdown catches this season. “I’m glad to be a part of it and to keep both my grandpa and my dad’s legacy going on and I hope to continue it.”
It’s that legacy that Peyton recalls before each game.
“I do a little thing before the game and just remember what I play for,” he said. “I just remember my grandpa and I feel his presence on the field and that he’s there with me.”
When Andy Maurer was ready to step aside, he had one person in mind to take over the program he built from scratch. That was his former all-state safety and quarterback Gettman.
Gettman, who will be coaching in his fifth state title game during his 13-year tenure on Saturday, was an assistant under his mentor starting in 2004 and eventually called plays for Cascade in 2008 and 2009 before being named head coach in 2010.
“He’s a guy that gave me the chance to coach football,” said Gettman. “He’s a mentor for me and, first and foremost, he’s my football coach in high school. It was a great blessing that he taught me what it meant to be that and helped me grow as a young man, helped me develop and challenged me in ways to help me be a Godly man.
“As a coach, he really pushed me and gave me a lot of opportunities. I was too young, I didn’t know what I was doing but he let me go do it.”
When looking at how Gettman runs the program, both Peyton Maurer and Wallace are reminded of their grandfather.
“I think it’s really cool and I think he does a great job of teaching us how to be good men,” said Wallace. “I think Andy would be very ecstatic to see what he’s created.”
Added Peyton Maurer: “I like how coach Gettman builds relationships with the kids and you can tell he really cares about what he does. I think he got that from my grandpa.”
Both Peyton Maurer and Wallace won a state title with the Cascade Christian boys basketball team last March, with all-state center Austin Maurer — Peyton’s brother and the reigning 3A player of the year — leading the way for the Challengers.
All three played youth football for South Medford growing up before Austin — who was very much the tallest one of the group even as they were in elementary school — shifted his focus to basketball.
Potentially getting a second state championship ring is something that is not escaping Peyton Maurer and Wallace.
“The feeling of winning a state championship is just unbelievable,” said Peyton Maurer. “You don’t really feel it at first, but you feel it after a week and it settles in. To get that feeling back would be awesome. And to get it with the seniors and just being around them, I would love to get a ring for them.”
Wallace, one of those seniors, has been credited with being one of the Challengers’ leaders both on the field and off it.
“Winning a state championship is like no other feeling I’ve ever had,” said Wallace. “This group of seniors, they’ve really stepped up this year, they’ve really stepped up as seniors. With the small senior class that we had last year, it was kinda up in the air on who’s going to be a leader, but I think everybody has stepped up this year and with the amount of time we put in over the summer to now I think we deserve it.”
This coming January will be the seventh anniversary of Andy’s passing.
But the very reason why he wanted a football program and the by-product of that still remains true three decades later.
And no matter the opponent, grandpa Andy is going to be there in spirit.
“What it meant to have love for the game and what it means to be a hard worker,” Peyton Maurer said of what he learned from his grandfather. “That really stuck with me and I try to keep that with me in everything I do. Whatever I do, I just do it for him.”
Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.