Crater 53, Ridgeview 33

Ridgeview goes into its playoff game at top-ranked Wilsonville on a two-game losing streak after falling 53-33 at Crater in a matchup of second-place teams in the North and South divisions of Special District 2.

Sophomore Bryce Demars wrapped up the regular season at quarterback by completing 19-of-26 passes for 267 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. On the season, Demars completed 102-of-178 passes for 1,566 yards, with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

While Kadden Brown led Ridgeview in rushing yards on the season, Josh Biever led the Ravens with 14 total touchdowns, 13 of them rushing. He had 673 rushing yards and 201 rushing yards. Against Crater, Biever ran for 85 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries and had five catches for 110 yards and a touchdown receiving.

Ashland 19, Redmond 0

Redmond wrapped up a 2-7 season with a 19-0 loss Oct. 26 at Ashland, leaving the Panthers 11th in the 12-team league.

Bryce Powell finished his impressive season with 168 rushing yards on 26 carries. Powell led Redmond with 960 rushing yards on the season, while Clayton Elrod ran for 674 yards and eight touchdowns (65 yards against Ashland).

Overall, Redmond ran for 2,403 yards on the season.

After consecutive 1-8 football seasons, Ridgeview was off to an 0-3 start in 2018. The players and coaches decided they didn’t want to go down that road again.

“We just became a team,” said senior running back Griffin Dietz. “We all banded together and said we don’t want to be like the previous teams. We want to win.”

The Ravens rallied to defeat rival Redmond 42-35 Sept. 21, their first division game, which started a four-game winning streak. Though they fell 71-38 Oct. 19 at Thurston in a showdown for first place in the Class 5A Special District 2 North Division and lost again Oct. 26 at No. 9 Crater, they are still headed for the playoffs.

Ridgeview (4-1 division, 4-5 overall) enters the playoffs as the No. 16 seed and the fourth of five playoff teams in Special District 2. The Ravens are scheduled to play at No. 1 Wilsonville at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Redmond game was when the pieces started to fall into place. First-year head coach Patrick Pileggi said the Ravens gave up 13 turnovers in their first three games, while only getting one.

“We’re not going to win many football games doing that,” he said. “Part of it was our kids had to learn how to win.”

The turnaround has been a relief, said senior lineman Tyler Bartlett.

“The last few years have been really disappointing in the win column, it was not fun,” he said. “This year, we just turned around and had a good experience.”

Personal and team challenges

The success comes while several players are dealing with their own challenges. Senior lineman Grant Penhollow’s mother, Melinda, is battling cancer.

“It’s definitely made it a little more difficult,” Grant said of the season. “I’ve got a lot of teammates who help me get through the year.”

Grant has been pleased to see his mother make it to some games, including senior night, an Oct. 12 come-from-behind victory against then-No. 6 North Bend.

“It makes my day seeing her sitting there,” he said.

Payton Davis was expected to start the season at quarterback for the Ravens but broke his collarbone in a preseason jamboree. When he came back a few weeks into the season, Davis was more than willing to move to receiver after sophomore Bryce Demars played well at quarterback.

“I wanted to do it for a really long time,” Davis said of playing receiver. “Bryce had three weeks to understand the offense, it would have been unfair to come back. We’ve got a lot of selfless guys on the team.”

Davis finished the regular season with 20 catches for 345 yards and seven touchdowns in just six games.

Senior running back Kadden Brown moved to Redmond from Watertown, New York, near the Canadian border, before the season.

He said a change in the atmosphere in practice is the biggest difference he’s noticed.

“When I came here, it was lackadaisical, everybody going through the motions,” he said. “Then after a few weeks, everybody started paying attention.”

Brown also dealt with the change in playing style. He said Oregon uses more spread offenses, where teams in New York were more run based. That didn’t stop Brown from rushing for a team high 844 yards on 81 carries during the season. He ran for 199 yards and one of his seven touchdowns against Crater.

“It feels good because you get to see the team transition from beginning to end,” he said. “Once we started to realize we could win, I started to see the team come together.”

Skipping a few steps in rebuilding

Penhollow credits the new coaches, along with improved senior leadership, in helping Ridgeview to the playoffs and revive a program where seniors weren’t used to winning.

“In the past couple years, the seniors haven’t really been with the team, they were almost separate,” he said. “Coach Pileggi demands a little more respect than we’ve had in the past. I think that helps the team mentality.”

Among the keys to playing well in the playoffs are getting healthy. Pileggi said the Ravens only had 24 players available in the Thurston game. They must also continue avoiding turnovers.

Pileggi said he’s talked to the seniors about building for the future and how they had an opportunity to speed up Ridgeview’s rebuilding — they don’t have to settle for a playoff appearance..

“In the preseason, I definitely thought we could win a couple games and have a shot at the playoffs,” he said. “I asked our seniors if they want to be the team that starts it or the team that skips a step and wins a playoff game or two.”

Following the coaches and leaders on the team is working out for Ridgeview, Davis said.

“We’ve found a way to win and we’re going to win, and we’re going to stick to it,” he said.

While the Ravens have gotten a boost from sophomores like Demars, the football program has small junior and freshman classes, leaving them with around 55 total players, Pileggi said. Ultimately, they will need to build those numbers up for a long run of success.

“We need to be in the 90s to be in a position to make a run every year like Thurston and Churchill and West Albany,” said Pileggi, who was an assistant at Sprague’s successful program in Salem for six years. “Obviously, winning solves a lot of problems, and the kids see that.”

Ridgeview is also building its relationship with Obsidian Middle School to show kids there they can play football along with other sports, Pileggi said.

But, first things first. The Ravens have a playoff game to get ready for.

“We’re just going to have to do everything right,” Bartlett said. “We’re going to have to practice like it’s a game. We’ve just got to do our job.”

— Reporter: 541-548-2186,