RON HARTMAN/THE CHRONICLE The Bulldogs lost to Class 2A powerhouse Monroe in the regular-season home opener Friday in front of appreciative fans in Creswell.
CRESWELL – Almost all of the breaks went against Creswell in its home football opener Friday night. It was a downer from start to finish as Class 2A powerhouse Monroe coasted to a 48-14 victory.
While the hometown fans had little to cheer about, there were plenty of happier emotions flowing because the kids are playing football again.
“Being able to do this in the spring is great for the kids,” Creswell coach Scott Worsham said. “Sure, this was a tough loss, but you need to go through some adversity to be a better team.”
“It’s not always about the score, it’s about seeing the kids get a chance to be on the field again,” said Nathan Scovil, whose sophomore son Maysen starts at running back and linebacker. “I’m really excited to get to see him play ball. Maysen loves the game.”
“I’m thankful to watch our kids play,” said Phoenix Warthen, mother of Jaydon Warthen, a freshman wide receiver/defensive back. “We’re tired of watching games through the fence.”
No spectators were admitted in the Bulldogs’ March 5 jamboree game, a 7-0 victory over Reedsport. Connor Hansen caught a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Conner Baggerly for the only score.
“He lives for football,” said Jake Warthen, Jaydon’s dad. “I’m super stoked they get a chance to play this year. It’s great to get some normalcy in the kids’ lives.”
Warthen’s friend Bethany Robertson said, “It’s really good to see spectators here. The OSAA just released its new mandates a couple days ago, so being able to have fans here is a positive. Of course, we still have limitations.”
It didn’t take long for the Bulldogs to realize some of their limitations against Monroe, a regular participant in the 2A state playoffs. “They seem to make it to the quarterfinals or semifinals every year,” Worsham said.
After Creswell’s opening drive stalled, the Dragons (2-0) drove down and scored first on quarterback Brady Ballard’s 8-yard run.
But the key stretch of the game happened during the end of the second quarter. Hanson had just relieved Baggerly and directed a scoring drive, tossing a 37-yard touchdown pass to Victor Giffen with less than 30 seconds left on the clock, cutting the lead to 27-8.
But Monroe broke a big play before halftime to make it 35-8, and Creswell’s comeback hopes were thwarted.
“It would have been nice to go into halftime and know we have the momentum, and who knows what might have happened,” Worsham said. “But they took that kickoff and scored. That was quite a back-breaker for us.”
Monroe sometimes had difficulty running up the middle, but when the Dragons ran sweeps and pitches to the outside, they seemed to turn the corner with relative ease.
“We couldn’t stop them on those plays,” Worsham said. “Once they got outside it became a footrace, and their dudes are faster than our dudes.”
Still, the young Bulldogs had some defensive standouts. Juan Beltran led the team with seven tackles and a fumble recovery. Tyler Atwood added 6.5 tackles and Reece Germen had five tackles (including two for loss). Tyler Nicol registered a sack, a blocked extra point and a team-high 5 catches for 72 yards.
Creswell’s brightest shining star, though, had to be Hanson, who completed 8-of-11 passes for 123 yards and a TD and rushed 13 times for 52 yards and another score.
“Sometimes I forget that he’s only a sophomore,” Worsham said. “He’s one of our best tacklers, he’s smart, he can play running back or quarterback. He’s certainly one of our leaders.”
Next up for Creswell is Central Linn.
“Central Linn likes to run the toss-sweep, so we have to work on that this week,” Worsham said. “Mainly, though, I’m just thankful we’ve been given the opportunity to play football this spring.”
A sentiment shared broadly at the stadium Friday night.