Philomath senior Kaden Muir sprints to the end zone for one of his three touchdowns against the Cubs Friday night at Clemens Field. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Newport High’s defense simply couldn’t find answers to slow down the Philomath offensive attack.

When the Cubs lined up in the box, Philomath picked apart the middle with long-yardage pass plays. And when Newport tried to drop back in coverage, the Warriors powered forward with effective running.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, Philomath had a 48-0 victory to even its record to 1-1 on the season.

“It feels pretty great … it helps that we have a lot more linemen this year and we have a lot more energy up there,” senior running back Kaden Muir said following a 127-yard performance and three touchdowns. “We have a run game now and we’re completing passes — that helps, too.”

Muir’s correct in that the Warriors really did a lot of damage through those two facets of the game. Philomath finished with 368 total yards with nearly equal run-pass production — 187 on the ground and 181 through the air. The Warriors averaged 9 yards per play.

“We fixed some stuff on offense and that helped us,” PHS coach Alex Firth said. “We completed some early passes and loosened the run box up and then it opened up for Kaden and the other backs.”

Muir averaged nearly 13 yards per carry, sophomore CD Nuno had over 100 yards receiving and scored twice and junior quarterback Caleb Russell completed two-thirds of his passes for 188 yards and four touchdowns 

Philomath sophomore CD Nuno had 104 receiving yards and caught two touchdowns — one from 66 yards. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

“I think last week, we had opportunities that we missed and we just couldn’t run the ball very well,” Firth said, referencing the team’s 22-13 loss at Crook County. “This week, we ran the ball so I think it just validates what you do. We’re also just finding our groove a little bit, too. You always improve after that first week because you see where the holes are.”

Newport had just 64 yards of total offense against the Warrior D and its deepest drive only made it to the PHS 41.

Philomath established dominance from the beginning with a 27-0 lead through the first quarter. Muir broke off a 43-yard TD run on the game’s third play for a quick score. On the team’s next drive, Nuno caught a Russell pass over the middle, cut back to his right and scored easily on a 29-yard TD.

“They were manning me up every time so I just knew and Caleb knew before the snap that I was going to be open or one of our receivers was going to be open,” Nuno said. “Because when we’re in man-to-man, I feel like we can beat anybody.”

Following the Nuno touchdown, the Warriors caught Newport on its heels with an onside kick that junior kicker Hunter Raab recovered himself. Muir caught a pass out of the backfield and sprinted 22 yards down the left sideline, the last 10 thanks to a Raab block. Muir then ran it in from 25 out for a 20-0 lead.

Muir switched positions from quarterback to running back and he’s enjoying the change.

Said Muir, “I like it — I’m able to carry the ball a lot more and Caleb can sling the ball around.”

Philomath junior Hudson Raab made 6 of 7 extra points and recovered his own onside kick midway through the first quarter. He also caught a TD pass late in the first half. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

The longest play of the game occurred a few minutes later when Philomath got the ball back. After a penalty backed up the team into second-and-14, Russell again found No. 19 over the middle — Nuno caught the ball on a slant from right to left and raced 66 yards to the end zone.

Game over.

“The feel is different because we have subs … last year, we’d get gassed in the second half and it was just tough,” Nuno said. “But this year, we have some depth, which is really nice. It definitely changes the dynamic of the game for sure.”

Nuno ended up with four catches for 104 yards and those two touchdowns.

“When we got the ball to our kids in space, good things happened,” Firth said. “They’re all good athletes out there. It loosened stuff up so we could run the ball inside.”

Muir scored his third touchdown with 7:48 left in the first half on a 5-yard run through a hole so big that he could pretty much walk in. Later in the quarter, Raab hauled in a 28-yard TD pass from Russell.

With a lead of 35-plus points, the game went to a running clock in the second half. Philomath added another TD to its lead in the third quarter on a 19-yard TD pass from Russell to sophomore Rocco De La Rosa.

Muir had 127 yards on just 10 carries — most of that in the first half when Philomath was flexing its muscle to put away the Cubs. De La Rosa had 44 yards and averaged 6.3 yards per carry.

“Kaden’s just a war horse … he just bangs in there and gets us hard yards for us,” Firth said. “Rocco also ran the ball well.”

Russell finished 8-for-12 passing.

PHS defensive lineman Tiernan Bovbjerg tackles Newport’s Lucas Paranto. The Warriors D allowed only 64 yards of total offense. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Philomath came through on third down on both sides of the ball. The defense limited Newport to 1 for 9 on third down while on offense, the Warriors converted on 4 of 7. Philomath’s defense had three sacks and junior Warwick Bushnell came away with an interception.

The 48-0 outcome was Philomath’s most lopsided victory since defeating Valley Catholic, 52-0, in 2021. It also marked the first time Philomath had beaten Newport since a 55-0 victory in 2015. The Cubs won three straight from 2017-19 and then the two teams didn’t play from 2020-22 when the schools went their separate ways through realignment.

“Obviously, we’re not satisfied with one win,” Firth said. “We’re going to try to win a few more.”

While the lopsided win over Newport was nice, Muir knows the toughest part of the schedule lies ahead.

“We’ve got to figure out how to get past Cascade and Stayton,” he said.

The Warriors (1-1) will next head down to Cottage Grove for a Sept. 15 league game. The Lions are 0-2 this season and have lost 15 straight dating back to 2021.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.

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