Blane Guzman
Blane Guzman, seen here earlier this season, had a 25-yard TD pass reception in Monday’s win over Cottage Grove’s junior varsity. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Philomath High School football team posted a shutout for the third time in four games this season with Monday’s 42-0 rout over the Cottage Grove junior varsity squad.

Interestingly, all three of those shutouts have come on the road. Head coach Tony Matta said the defense played very well but just as exciting was progress seen with the offense.

“Offensively, we did a much better job of executing in the run game,” Matta said. “They had a few more guys that we had and decent size up front but I think we had better team speed.”

Matta made a key change in the lineup by moving senior Issiah Blackburn from running back to offensive guard. Sophomore David Griffith started in the backfield and rushed for 106 yards on 14 carries.

“Getting another guy up front who moves really well at guard with Issiah made a huge difference in the run game,” Matta said. “David Griffith is a little elusive — he’s pretty fast and then he’s pretty hard to tackle. He had a great game.”

Matta said when he asked for volunteers to help strengthen the team’s situation on the line, Blackburn stepped up.

“He has no problem where he plays; he just wants to be on the field,” Matta said. “After the first series when he came out, he said, ‘I have a new appreciation for offensive linemen.’ A kid like Issiah just wants to be successful as a team and he’s willing to do whatever it takes.”

Sophomore Gio Abdelsayed returned to action this week on the line.

Philomath’s David Griffith rushed for 106 yards on 14 carries in Monday’s win. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

The Warriors have struggled with injuries and had two key starters missing from Monday’s game. Sophomore Ty May appears to be done for the season after an injury that put him in a walking boot and junior Carson Gerding underwent surgery on an injured finger.

“We’re down a couple of key guys but the rest of the guys are playing hard,” Matta said. “The young kids did a good job. They played quite a bit and maintained that shutout.”

Philomath got on the scoreboard in the first quarter on a 2-yard Griffith run. The Warriors built a 20-0 lead by halftime with two second-quarter touchdown receptions. Junior quarterback Caleb Jensen connected on TD passes of 10 yards to junior Alek Russell and 25 yards to senior Blane Guzman.

In the third quarter, Jensen scored on a 1-yard run and senior Chase Beardsley found the end zone on a 4-yard run. And in the fourth, sophomore Josh Peters broke free on a 38-yard touchdown run.

Beardsley had a two-point conversion run and kicked two extra points. Junior Jake Williams also had a two-point conversion run.

Special teams played an important role in the game. Cottage Grove didn’t punt the ball well, Matta said, and the Warriors also had some nice returns to help with Philomath’s starting field position. The Warriors punted only once.

With Gerding sidelined, Williams moved into a starting spot as a returner

“He had a really nice return in the third quarter that set us up for the short field,” Matta said.

As a team, Philomath had 255 yards rushing on 35 carries, which calculates to an exceptional per-carry average of 7.3 yards. In addition to Griffith’s 106, Peters finished with 67 yards on just three carries and Beardsley had 65 yard on nine carries.

Jensen and freshman quarterback Kaden Muir combined to complete 5 of 10 passes in the game. Beardsley also had a pass attempt, which was a completion to Jensen on a play that covered 34 yards.

Guzman had two catches for 54 yards to lead the receivers.

Philomath now turns its attention to Stayton, which will visit Clemens Field at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Eagles have a 1-3 record this season and are coming off a 52-0 loss against Cascade.

“That’ll be a pretty tough matchup based on what they look like on film; they have good size,” Matta said. “They’re not going to be real happy coming off their game Friday against Cascade … they’re going to want to take it out on somebody so we’ve got to be ready to play.”

Matta said Philomath will play a sixth game this season during the culminating week. It appears that the opponent could be Sisters, but arrangements have not been finalized.

“It’ll be good experience for our kids … we’re going to graduate four seniors and I know the numbers will grow next year when we’re out of the pandemic and things return to normal,” Matta said. “I feel pretty good about the guys returning; we’ll get better every week and then we’ll have a good summer to get going for the fall. I think we’ve made some strides this year that are showing up in some wins, so that’s nice.”

Philomath 42, Cottage Grove JV 0
Monday at Cottage Grove HS
Cottage Grove JV000000
First Quarter
PHS—David Griffith 2 run (kick failed)
Second Quarter
PHS—Alek Russell 10 pass from Caleb Jensen (kick failed)
PHS—Blane Guzman 25 pass from Caleb Jensen (Chase Beardsley run)
Third Quarter
PHS—Caleb Jensen 1 run (Chase Beardsley kick)
PHS—Chase Beardsley 4 run (Chase Beardsley kick)
Fourth Quarter
PHS—Josh Peters 38 run (Jake Williams run)
David Griffith 14-106, Josh Peters 3-67, Chase Beardsley 9-65, Kaden Muir 4-23, Caleb Jensen 2-0, Blake Niemann 3-(-6).
Caleb Jensen 3-6-0-64, Kaden Muir 2-4-0-15, Chase Beardsley 1-1-0-34.
Blane Guzman 2-54, Caleb Jensen 1-34, Alek Russell 1-10, Josh Peters 1-10, Jake Williams 1-5.

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