Newport goes down swinging


The Newport football team’s season came to an end with a 32-24 loss to Cottage Grove on Friday night.

A season that started with six straight seasons came to a screeching halt with Newport losing its final three games of the year.

It was an ending that in hindsight could have been expected with how the season unfolded.

You have the first three games, games where Newport was dominant winning all three by an average of 31 points per game. Only one of those games came against a playoff team.

Then came Philomath,  Sisters and Stayton. While the level of competition increased, the Cubs were still able to pile up the wins despite s seeing their point differential go from plus-95 to plus-9.

But then, needing at least one win for a top-two finish in the conference, the Cubs lost. It wasn’t just that they lost, but rather, it was a team that looked as though it had given up and was ready to pack it in for the winter when adversity struck.

None more evident than the second half of Newport’s game against Sweet Home a 34-6 loss in the conference title, which wasn’t as close as the score makes it out.

As the first half progressed in Friday’s play-in game against Cottage Grove, the Cubs saw a two-point lead quickly turn into a 24-point hole as the Lions’ moved up and down the turf at Morrow Field.

A repeat of losses to Sweet Home and Cascade seemed all too certain. When it seemed like things were working in Newport’s favor — twice moving inside the five-yard line or forcing long down and distances on defense — it was Cottage Grove that delivered the big plays on both sides of the ball in the first half.

“They were able to capitalize; they made a couple of big plays that our defense was able to stop,” said senior Jake Tucker. “They worked the ball really well outside, keeping the ball away from the middle of the field. They were able to get big play after big play and that’s what gave them the advantage in the second quarter.”

It was only a three-score game, but with how the Cubs closed the half and played the previous two games, I felt the chances of making a comeback was slim to none against the defending state champs.

But during the 15-minute break in the locker room, the Cubs weren’t ready to go into hibernation.

“The coaches talked to us about what are we going to remember 20 years from now,” said senior Tanner Stottlemyre.

Here is what’s going to be remembered 20 years from, or at least it should:

The defense will remember shutting out the Lions in the second half and forcing two turnovers, holding a dynamic offense scoreless when it was needed most.

They’ll remember the highs of the third quarter when Stottlemyre, wearing a Superman T-shirt under his uniform, nearly saving the season with a 48-yard touchdown run and a 95-yard interception return in the third quarter to bring the Cubs to within eight points.

“It was beautiful,” Tucker said. “Tanner was able to grab it and goal the way with his track speed, it was nice. That was the play that brought us back to life.”

They will remember the lows of the fourth quarter when the game was in reach, the offense just couldn’t come up with another big play to even the score, even though there were multiple opportunities.

“They shut down our offense,” Stottlemyre said. “They picked up on our tosses that were working at the beginning of the game. They figured out our offense, props to them, they figured it out.”

It would’ve been easy for senior Lucas Fisher to say “nah, I’m good” when asked to move from running back to lineman after Kaleb Raever went down with an injury. It would have been easy for senior quarterback Justin Plechaty to get ready for basketball and not to take on multiple tacklers while fighting for a first down. Or for Stottlemyre not to chase down Cottage Grove receivers who had broken into the open field.

For the first two years in the program, the seniors of the program went 1-14. The final two going 11-8 with two postseason berths.  Going down without a fight wasn’t an option for the seniors.

“I don’t think that’s in us,” Stottlemyre said. “We couldn’t have done that, especially to the underclassmen because they look up to us. If we went out and gave up, that will roll over into next season and we want them to fight. We didn’t want to do that. Last week sucked, we didn’t want that again, we are happy now knowing that we gave it our all.”


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