Banged-Up Cougars Fall Short in Season Finale at Crater

The injury-depleted Canby Cougar football squad wrapped up its historic, Covid-shortened season in southern Oregon Friday with a 20-14 loss at Crater High School (4-2).

The Cougs (3-3) hit the field without senior receiver and return specialist Chance Miller, who is committed to the U.S. Air Force Academy; senior running back Tyler Mead, one of the league’s leaders in rushing yards (with 534) and touchdowns (9); and starting quarterback Mikey Gibson.

Despite the brutal injury report, Canby showed tremendous heart and battled until the final down.

But few rose to the occasion like backup quarterback Zack Markell, a senior playing his final game in a Cougar uniform, who engineered both scoring drives and came up just short on a potentially game-winning third — which ended on a failed fourth-down conversion at the 6-yard line with less than a minute left in the game.

Courtesy Jeff Sandner.

“Really proud of how this group fought and played all night,” said Coach Jimmy Joyce. “Guys really stepped up, especially Zack. Very proud of how he was able to step right in and take control of the offense. He made big plays all night with both his arm and legs.”

Even with the shortened schedule, the Cougs finished with three wins — one more than the team had managed in its two previous seasons, combined.

“While we didn’t get the result we wanted, we fought, and our seniors left it all out on the field,” Joyce said. “This senior class has been through so much, and I am so proud of how they have handled the last year. They left a legacy that will be remembered for a very long time.”

Courtesy Jeff Sandner.

Though the playing season was only six weeks, Joyce notes that its roots go back 10 months, to early summer when players were allowed to run drills — but couldn’t share a football.

“Through all the uncertainty, this group stayed focused and ready,” Joyce said. “I think the Canby School District administration deserves a lot of credit for providing this opportunity when many other districts didn’t — especially Athletic Director Ben Winegar, who has worked tirelessly for all our student-athletes.”

After the longest offseason in the history of Oregon prep football, the Cougs are now heading into what is likely to be the shortest one, with the start of the 2021 season just five months away.

Courtesy Jeff Sandner.

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