Sports Zone

Thurston is back in familiar territory

SPRINGFIELD – There’s something poetic about a team playing smash-mouth football for three quarters, then dancing to ‘Party in the USA’ by Miley Cyrus between the final two quarters. While it might not be as storied of a tradition as ‘Shout’ in Autzen Stadium, the Thurston Colts football team deserved to dance nonetheless.

After an 0-2 start this season, there were questions surrounding the state of the Colts football team. Since that Friday night where Thurston fell to 0-2 after a 48-10 loss at Summit, Thurston has won seven in a row, with the seventh a 44-0 win on senior night against Churchill last Friday. The win clinched sole possession of the Midwestern League title for Thurston, which won those seven games by a combined 191 points.

“We had a lot of first-year starters, first-year varsity guys who have done a really good job in this program,” said Justin Starck, Thurston head coach. “They just have grown as football players, and as young men, and they’re just coming into their own and doing a great job. So it’s just a matter of improvement, coaching and maturity.”

While Thurston danced, crosstown rivals Springfield battled. The Millers drove down to Eagle Point and held on in dramatic fashion, beating the Eagles 30-29 and moving to 6-3 on the season. Springfield had already clinched a playoff berth, its first since 2015, but the win over Eagle Point shot the Millers up five spots in the standings and gave them momentum heading into the playoffs.

Now the postseason looms, and the Colts are looking for revenge against the only three teams to have beaten them in the past 12 months: Silverton, who beat Thurston 26-20 in last year’s finals and now hosts Springfield in the first round; Wilsonville, who beat Thurston 38-35 in overtime on week one; and Summit. 

All four of these teams are ranked in the top seven, and it’s likely each team will need to beat two of the other teams to win the championship.

“I think it’s exciting. It’s exciting for our kids, because we’ve been in these games so much lately. They welcome the challenge and they welcome the spotlight,” Starck said. “Those are the teams they want to play. I mean, those are absolutely the teams that they want to play. We know we’ve got to take care of business in order to get the opportunity to play one of those three teams, and if we get the opportunity we’ll welcome it.”

Thurston won’t play any of those teams until the semifinals, and Starck knows they still need to stay focused and continue to improve if they want that revenge.

“We’ve still got to continue to work on our pass protection at all times and really just work on our execution in the passing game,” he said. “You gotta be able to run the ball in November, but you also have to have some balance. And so we need to continue to get better at that.”

The Colts play host to West Albany on Friday in their first-round matchup as the team looks to make its fourth consecutive trip to the finals.



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