By Gerry Steele
There will be a new Class 4A state football champion this year.
Cascade made sure of that Friday evening when the Cougars defeated the defending champion Baker Bulldogs 37-14 in a 4A play-in game at Bulldog Memorial Stadium.
"We just couldn't stop them and we were horrible in the red zone," said Baker coach Dave Johnson.
The "red zone" is inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Baker advanced inside Cascade's 20 four times in the game, and scored just once.
Twice in the first half, Baker advanced to the Cougars' 5. The first time Baker missed a 20-yard field goal attempt. The second time, quarterback Thomas Hamilton's fourth-down pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
"I thought the kids played really hard," Johnson said.
"We're not that far away. That seems to be the story of our year - we do some great things and then we miss.
"We don't like the outcome, but the effort was laudable," Johnson said.
"It speaks well of the Bulldog pride and character that has developed over the years.
"We obviously don't like to lose, but we can use this outcome as a motivation for better things in the coming years," Johnson said.
Cascade needed just four plays to reach Baker's end zone in the first quarter.
But, running back Daniel Britton foumbled the ball into the end zone and Baker's Zarom Bruce recovered the ball to end that threat.
Cascade did score on its next drive, marching 79 yards. Quarterback Josh Delamarter connected on a 13-yard touchdown pass with Cameron Molan. The conversion kick gave Cascade a 7-0 lead midway thruogh the period.
That's where the score remained until the first play of the second quarter when Spencer Crawford's 1-yard run and a two-point conversion pass gave the Cougars a 15-0 lead.
Baker's first time inside the Cascade 20 came on the next series.
Highlighted by a 26-yard pass from Hamilton to Ben Baxter and a 30-yard Hamilton run, the Bulldogs advanced to the Cascade 5.
Then, on fourth down, Tyler Osborn's 20-yard field goal try was wide.
Cascade led 15-0 at halftime.
Delamarter and Molan hooked up again for a second touchdown pass with 4:21 left in the third quarter, boosting Cascade's lead to 23-0.
Baker finally got on the scoreboard on the next drive when Hamilton found Mason Powell from 39 yards out for the touchdown. On the play, Powell bobbled the ball a couple of times before pulling it in in the end zone.
Cascade quickly answered, needing just four plays before Delamarter connected with Lucas Bjorklund on a 45-yard TD pass with three seconds left in the third quarter.
Cascade added one more touchdown before Hamilton connected with Bruce on a 9-yard TD pass with 2:27 left in the game.
Cascade finished with 422 yards on offense, Baker 381.
After running 21 plays in the first quarter to Baker's seven, the Cougars had just 28 more plays in the final three quarters. Baker finished with 68 plays.
Hamilton finished 24-of-41 passing for 277 yards. Bruce caught eight passes for 88 yards. Baxter carried the ball 14 times for 91 yards.
Baker finished its season 4-6.
Cascade -7 8 15 7 - 37
Baker - 0 0 6 8 - 14
C - Molan 13 pass from Delamarter (Bjorklund kick)
C - Crawford 1 run (Nunley pass from Molan)
C - Molan 16 pass from Delamarter (Molan run)
B - Powell 39 pass from Hamilton (Pass failed)
C - Bjorklund 45 pass from Delamarter (Bjorklund kick)
C - Dozler 2 run (Bjorklund kick)
B - Bruce 9 pass from Hamilton (Bachman pass from Hamilton)
Rushing -Cascade: Dozler 24-155, Britton 9-106, Delamarter 2-15, Coffey 3-5, Molan 1-5, Crawford 2-4. Baker: Baxter 14-91, Hamilton 12-8, Cline 1-5.
Passing - Cascade: Delamarter 5-8-0-132. Baker: Hamilton 24-41-1-277.
Receiving - Cascade: Molan 4-87, Bjorklund 1-45. Baker" Bruce 8-88, Bachman 4-34, Powell 3-46, Baxcter 3-44, Huggins 3-34, Cline 3-31.