By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
The East dominated all three areas Saturday in steamrolling the West 48-6 in the 52nd annual East-West Shrine All-Star Football Game.
The East, which holds a 26-23-3 overall lead in the series, amassed 439 yards while holding the West to 187 in the game played at Bulldog Memorial Stadium.
Team bonding was a major key to the win according to several East players.
andquot;During practices this past week we bonded really well,andquot; said Mike Pagnotta, Illinois Valley running back.
andquot;It was like I'd been playing with these guys all year.andquot; Pagnotta, who will be a walk-on invitee at Colorado State University this fall, led the East offense with 150 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
andquot;Our coaches did a great job,andquot; Pagnotta said. andquot;And, our O line (offensive line) did a great job. We couldn't have done what we did without them.andquot; The East defense played like a pride of lions zeroing in on a kill. They limited the West ground attack to just 62 yards on 33 carries.
andquot;We just have some great athletes on this team,andquot; said Tim Vaughan, Baker defensive back.
andquot;We practiced hard all week. We moved to a 4-4 defense which was new to me. I played a 4-3 in high school. But, the guys did a super job.andquot; Hard hit leads to early score
It didn't take the East defense long to make its presence felt. On the West's third play of the game, the East's Todd Baxter, Powder Valley cornerback, leveled West receiver Tim Kirsch (Madras) after Kirsch had caught a 14-yard pass from Warrenton's Nate McBride.
Kirsch coughed the ball up with the East's Ricky Howe (Sweet Home) recovering on the West 32.
andquot;That was just awesome,andquot; said Baxter, who was playing his first 11-man football after leading Powder Valley to the 8-man 1A state crown last fall.
andquot;That's the way I've always wanted to do it,andquot; he said while surrounded by dozens of family members and other well-wishers after the game. andquot;It's been hard for me going from 8-man to 11-man, but that felt good.andquot; The East then needed just six plays to put the ball into the end zone. Pagnotta did the honors on a 1-yard burst off right tackle with 10:23 left in the opening period. The conversion kick failed leaving the East up 6-0.
The teams then traded possessions the rest of the period, with the East maintaining the 6-0 lead at the break.
Then, early in the second period, the East culminated a 7-play, 56-yard drive when Nyssa's Trent Holcomb connected with fellow Treasure Valley-area receiver Tye Hiatt (Vale) on a 33-yard scoring pass. Holcomb lofted the pass toward the left sideline, and Hiatt, behind the West defenders, hauled it in near the goal line.
The conversion kick was again wide, giving the East a 12-0 cushion.
West gets untracked, briefly
The West scored its lone touchdown on its next series, thanks, in part, to the arm and legs of McBride. McBride connected for 17 yards with Taft's Dom Hindman, and ran for 13 yards on an end sweep to move the ball to the East 22. A personal foul penalty on the East for tackling McBride out of bounds on the play moved the ball to the 11.
Four running plays then pushed the ball into the end zone with Estacada's Craig O'Meara scoring from a yard out. The PAT failed leaving the West down 12-6.
The East explodes
The East then erupted for 16 unanswered points in the final 9:15 of the half.
Following the kickoff, the East marched 75 yards on seven plays for another touchdown. Pagnotta chewed up two major junks of turf, breaking two tackles on a 33-yard gallop, then using some high-stepping action up the middle for 13 more yards.
Heppner quarterback Chuey Elguezabal then found Siuslaw's Collin Cram-Watkins on a 7-yard TD aerial for an 18-6 East lead.
The East's Matt Buche (Myrtle Point), the Class 2A defensive player of the year, recovered a fumble on the West's first play after the kickoff giving the East possession on the West 25. But, the East appeared to be denied when the West line rose up and stopped Pagnotta inches short of the goal line on a fourth-and-1 situation.
Then, three plays later, the East scored a safety to take a 20-6 lead. On the play, McBride was pressured in the end zone and fumbled the ball. The West's Greg Pope (Banks) picked up the fumble but was leveled by Colby Weedman (South Wasco Co.) for the safety.
Then, after the West had to kick off to the East, Buche's right arm led to the next touchdown.
Buche, who finished the game completing all five of his pass attempts, was 4-for-4 through the air while engineering a 59-yard scoring drive. Two of those passes went to Marist speedster Tyler Coleman, who will play for Eastern Washington Unversity this fall.
The scoring toss of 13 yards went to Hiatt over the middle between two crossing defenders. On the conversion, Hiatt took a high snap, rolled right and found a sliding Jake Lacey (Ontario) in the end zone for the two-point PAT.
The East led 28-6 at halftime.
Pagnotta sparks East third quarter
The East boosted its lead to 35-6 on the first series of the second half, thanks to Pagnotta's legs.
Pagnotta had shorter runs of 12 and seven yards on the 74-yard drive. But, it was a 40-yard burst on which he broke no less than two tackles that found paydirt.
East hits the end zone twice more
The East tallied two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, to the delight of the East rooting section.
Baxter got the first score on a 6-yard run after lining up at tailback.
andquot;It wasn't a play designed for me,andquot; Baxter said. andquot;It was just one of our running plays, and coach told me to line up at running back.andquot; Baxter, who played quarterback at Powder Valley, received the handoff near the center of the field, then broke to his left and scooted off left tackle, dragging a couple of defenders into the end zone with him.
Howe then capped the East dominance when he took a West punt on his own 45, circled, then broke across the field and down the left sideline for a 55-yard punt return.
West 0 6 0 0 6
East 6 22 7 13 48
E Mike Pagnotta 1 run (Kick failed)
E Tye Hiatt 33 pass from Trent Holcomb (Kick failed)
W Craig O'Meara 1 run (Kick failed)
E Collin Cram-Watkins 7 pass from Chuey Elguezabal (Kick failed)
E Safety: Greg Pope tackled in end zone by Colby Weedman
E Hiatt 13 pass from Matt Buche (Jake Lacey pass from Hiatt)
E Pagnotta 40 run (Brett McClintock kick)
E Todd Baxter 6 run (McClintock kick)
E Ricky Howe 55 punt return (Kick failed)
First Downs 12 18
Rushing Yards 33-62 52-274
Passing Yards 125 165
Total Yards 187 439
Passing 11-24-3 12-19-1
Fumbles-Lost 5-2 5-1
Penalties-Yards 1-5 5-45
Rushing West: Greg Pope 3-20, Nate McBride 8-19, Andrew Muehleck 6-17, Drew Huskey 6-13, Dan Weis 2-5, Craig O'Meara 2-4, Brian Halverson 1-(-1), Jared Beeler 1-(-1), Trevor Smith 1-(-2), Pedro Reyes 2-(-5), Levi Halmett 1-(-7). East: Mike Pagnotta 14-150, Blake Eckstein 7-39, Tyler Coleman 3-23, Collin Cram-Watkins 1-20, Trent Holcomb 3-11, Randall Eschler 7-8, Tim Vaughan 1-8, Tye Hiatt 1-8, Scott Tisler 2-6, Todd Baxter 1-6, Brett McClintock 5-5, Matt Buche 1-1, David Prewitt 1-(-1), Chuey Elguezabal 5-(-10).
Passing West: Nate McBride 8-18-2-84, Drew Huskey 3-6-1-41. East: Matt Buche 5-5-0-78, Chuey Elguezabal 4-5-0-22, Brett McClintock 2-5-0-32, Trent Holcomb 1-2-1-33, Mike Pagnotta 0-1-0-0, Todd Baxter 0-1-0-0.
Receiving West: David Duong 3-16, Andrew Muehleck 2-41, Predo Reyes 2-19, Dom Hindman 1-17, Dan Weis 1-14, Trevor Smith 1-14, Tim Kirsch 1-4. East: Tyler Coleman 4-68, Collin Cram-Watkins 4-20, Tye Hiatt 2-46, Jake Lacey 2-31.
Interceptions West:: Aaron Drabandt. East: Matt Buche, Randy Spaur, Randall Eschler.