HERMISTON – In fiction, David finds a way and overcomes Goliath. In real life, David ends up running for his life being chased down by Goliath and his monster reach. This was the case on Saturday as Burns quarterback Jaden Tiller, 5 feet, 7 inches and 140 pounds spent his day looking at Santiam Christian’s Joseph MaQatish, 6 feet, 9 inches and a bulky 240 pounds coming across the line.
Looking at the two teams during warmups on a foggy, cold Saturday afternoon, one thing was very clear. Santiam Christian was larger at almost every position in this semifinal matchup. As the game started play, it was also evident the Eagles were fast, athletic and to put this point to bed, big. In the end, Burns, fighting to the end, was no match for the balanced offense of Santiam Christian combined with a strong defense. The Eagles advance to the championship game and ended the Burns season with a 27-16 win.
Hilanders’ fans, sitting and standing on the visitor’s side of the field, saw Santiam Christian put up the first three scores of the game.
Burns, unable to move the ball after the game’s kickoff, punted to the Eagle’s 34-yard line. Taking only three plays, Santiam’s Ely Kennel went 63 yards for the first score of the game with less than half the quarter off the clock.
Again, the Hilanders were unable to move the ball and punted back to the Eagles. Switching over to the pass, Santiam Christian went up 13-0 on a 6-yard pass from Ely Kennel to Luke Mehlschau at the 1:22 mark.
An interception of a Burns pass provided Santiam Christian the third score of the first quarter. Starting on the Hilander’s 8-yard line, the Eagles scored on a 1-yard dive to go up 20-0.
The first Burns score came not from the offense, but the defense. After a penalty forced Santiam back to their own 1-yard line, the Hilander’s William Johnson came up with the tackle for a safety and put Burns on the board, 20-2.
After the kickoff, Burns drove down the field, going 49 yards capped off by a 20-yard pass from Jaden Tiller to Dakota Ceja to tighten the score to 20-9.
The second half opened with the final Eagle score of the game. In less than one minute, Santiam Christian scored on a 13-yard pass from Kennel to Oxenrider for a 27-9 margin. Midway in the third quarter, Burns scored for their final points of the day as Tiller went to William Johnson for a 32-yard strike and score.
Burns put up 265 yards in 77 plays compared to Santiam Christian’s 364 yards in 58 plays. The Hilanders had no luck with the ground game, putting up only 17 yards on 38 attempts against the large defensive line of the Eagles. Passing, Tiller was 18-for-33 with two scores and one interception. Harlen Gunderson had six catches for 91 yards to lead Burns.
William Johnson led the defensive effort with eight tackles. Anthony Moulton, Justin Winn and Mike Winn each added six tackles.
Burns ends the season with an 11-1 overall record, a 4-0 league record and a Special District 3 (EOL) title. The Hilanders start next season without the services of ten seniors.