Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

Less than six hours before Baker's Class 4A football play-in game with Mac-Hi Friday Bulldog Memorial Stadium's turf was covered with about three inches of snow.

But, thanks to Baker athletic director Mike Sullivan and an army of volunteers by game time the turf was pretty much clear of snow and ready for a game.

If only that crew had known how hot the Bulldogs would be, they wouldn't have had to remove the snow.

Baker (7-2) came out firing on all cylinders, handing Mac-Hi a 54-7 loss. It was the second time this season the Bulldogs have defeated the Pioneers. Baker stopped Mac-Hi 67-22 during the Greater Oregon League regular season.

"I think we played much better this time than we did the first time we played them," said Baker coach Dave Johnson.

"Every phase of our game was executed to a higher degree of proficiency.

"Our defense was stellar. Our offense was cooking with gas. Special teams did a wonderful job. We were really, really pleased with the outcome," Johnson said.

"The challenge before the game was to trip the switch and make this a high level performance," he said.

"The kids came out and bang, bang, bang stopped them on defense. Then bang, bang, bang put the ball into the end zone on offense."

Baker's defense continued its season-long dominance. No high school team in Oregon has scored against Baker's first-team unit. The last team to score against the first-team defense was Fruitland in Baker's third game of the season.

One of the hottest Bulldogs was quarterback Braden Phillips. The junior left-hander finished the game 16-of-18 passing for 261 yards and four touchdowns.

Phillips finished the first period 7-for-7 passing, leading the Bulldogs to a 20-0 lead. he completed his first 10 passes before missing.

"Braden threw the ball really well," Johnson said.

"He threw some great balls. He was able to that because of the blocking of our front guys. They were doing their jobs, giving Braden time to find his receivers," Johnson said.

Baker opened the scoring with 5:31 left in the first quarter when Colten Richards bulled into the end zone from 5 yards out.

Baker got excellent field position at the Mac-Hi 30 three plays later when Jake Grammon blocked and recovered a Pioneer punt.

"Jake has such long arms that he doesn't have to get that close to the kicker to put pressure on him," Johnson said.

The Bulldogs needed just two plays to increase their lead to 14-0 when Phillips found Dane Bachman on a 26-yard touchdown pass.

Grammon forced Mac-Hi to run the ball on fourth down, pressuring the Pioneer punter again on the next series.

Phillips then needed just three plays to give Baker a 20-0 lead when he connected with freshman Thomas Hamilton on a 27-yard TD strike.

Baker added another 20 points in the second period to build a 40-0 halftime lead.

Trent Taylor and Richards each scored a rushing touchdown, and Phillips hooked up with Bachman again for another score.

Baker held Mac-Hi to minus 7 yards on offense in the first half.

Phillips connected with Cody Osborn for a 16-yard TD on the opening drive of the third quarter. The 48-0 Baker lead also started a running clock with 9:04 left in the period.

Hamilton then took over at quarterback and found Dan Stinson for a 16-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Mac-Hi's score came on the Pioneers' final drive of the game, the only sustained drive Mac-Hi had.

Baker finished with 386 yards in total offense, Mac-Hi just 91.

Baker will now host Sweet Home (8-2) in the first round of the 4A playoffs Friday or Saturday at Bulldog Memorial Stadium. Date and time have not been set.

"Sweet Home is just like us," Johnson said. "I don't think they're quite as young as we are. It will be a great battle."

Johnson said it could be a homecoming of sorts as well. Baker and Willamette University graduate Matt Banta is an assistant coach for the Huskies.

"It would be nice for him and his family to have him here," Johnson said. "I hope he'll be here. But, maybe they'll have him scouting somewhere."

"This is just the start of the second season. It's just high school football at its finest."

Mac-Hi 0 0 0 7 - 7

Baker 20 20 8 6 - 54

B - Richards 5 run (Kick failed)

B - Bachman 26 pass from Phillips (Osborn pass from Phillips)

B - Hamilton 27 pass from Phillips (Kick failed)

B - Taylor 7 run (Taylor kick)

B - Bachman 25 pass from Phillips (Taylor kick)

B - Richards 4 run (Kick failed)

B - Osborn 16 pass from Phillips (Dolby pass from Phillips)

B - Stinson 16 ass from Hamilton (Kick failed)

M - Saldana 4 run (Saldana kick)

Individual statistics

Rushing - Mac-Hi: Dombrosky 4-28, Copenhaver 11-22, Saldana 7-19, Hodgen 6-13, Birdwell 2-4, Kessler 1-2. Baker: Richards 13-89, Taylor 2-8, Hamilton 1-7, Baxter 1-1, Phillips 4-0, Osborn 1-(-5).

Passing - Mac-Hi: Copenhaver 1-9-1-3. Baker: Phillips 16-18-0-261, Hamilton 2-6-0-25.

Receiving - Mac-Hi: Saldana 1-3. Baker: Bachman 6-115, Osborn 5-86, Dolby 2-16, Hamilton 1-27, Stinson 1-16, Averett 1-9, Parry 1-9, Taylor 1-8.