If the Canby Cougars felt daunted facing their second-straight 6A opponent, Beaverton, on the road while grappling with a slew of injuries to several key players — including their star running back — they certainly didn’t show any sign of it Thursday night, routing the winless Beavs 37-7 to improve to 3-0 on the season.
The banged-up Cougs (3-0) suffered several injuries during the week and piled on a few more over the course of Thursday’s contest. Fortunately, most of them are minor, and head coach Jimmy Joyce is hopeful most, if not all, will be back in action next week or the week after.
The most concerning involved star junior and early offensive player of the year candidate Tyler Konold, who amassed an eye-popping 495 yards and six touchdowns (five rushing and one defensive) in his first two games.
Konold rolled his ankle on the opening kickoff, and though he was effective in limited opportunities — four carries for 36 yards — Joyce and his team felt it safest to sit him early.
“Konold got a little dinged up on the first play, so he was very limited,” Joyce said. “Eventually, we sat him to allow him to heal.”
Starting quarterback Gage Millar sat out Thursday after tweaking a lingering knee injury in practice, and his replacement, Parker Ackerman, also went down before halftime after a stellar first half (3 of 6 for 76 yards and one touchdown through the air, and 123 yards on the ground).
Not that it mattered. Canby led 37-0 before the Beavers (0-3) managed to punch one in late in the fourth to avoid getting shut out on their home turf.
“Our depth showed up in a big way,” Joyce said. “Kellen Oliver came in [at QB] and balled out. Landon Sprague, Ethan Ensrud and Walker Conroy carried the load and came up big. We have around 65 players on varsity, and I think all 65 played key roles tonight.”
Another superb performance — though it was no surprise — came from junior speedster Cohen Hall, one of this season’s big standouts on the Cougars’ receiving corps.
Hall, who took a blocked field goal 80-plus yards to the promised land during last week’s win over Oregon City, added three in the more traditional way this week, catching a TD pass each from Ackerman and Oliver and throwing in one on the ground for good measure.
Seniors Landon Sprague and Ethan Ensrud proved more than capable of replacing Konold’s otherworldly production, piling up 71 and 38 yards respectively, along with a touchdown each.
Playing the first varsity minutes of his promising career, sophomore Kellen Oliver impressed, going 3 of 4 for 98 yards and a touchdown.
“He was very impressive,” said Joyce, who was high on Oliver from the first preseason practices this summer. “He has that swagger you look for in a quarterback. Really proud of Parker and Kellen. They both played amazing.”
And a coach who, just a couple short weeks ago was worried about the depth chart after having to replace an especially talented Class of 2022 with a cadre of juniors and underclassmen unusually light on organized football experience due to the pandemic, saw many of those concerns be alleviated.
“We have found some depth for sure,” Joyce said. “A lot of hard work and a young team growing in maturity. We are also seeing our senior leaders come up big. Guys like [Braden] Snoderly, Davis [Hagen], Sprague and Silas Wood are helping bring these young guys up to speed.”
It was a homecoming for Joyce as he returned to his high school alma mater and the place he spent seven years as offensive coordinator before taking the head coaching job at Canby in 2019. The Cougs have gone 16-13 under Joyce, including 14-6 the past three seasons.
“It was a lot of fun,” Joyce said. “Have had a lot of great memories on that field. Won a state championship as a player and had some great memories as a coach. But tonight is right up there. So proud to be a Canby Cougar, and while Beaverton will always have a special place in my heart, Canby is now my home.”
Joyce said Konold, Millar and Ackerman will be evaluated by team doctors next week to determine if they will play in Friday’s non-league home tilt vs. an especially tough-looking Bend team (3-0). The Lava Bears have allowed only seven points in three games while averaging more than 47.
“We will see,” Joyce said. “We have a little bit of a MASH unit going, with Gage, Parker and Konold as well as a lot of dings to others that are normal after a month. But they are all feeling optimistic and so are we.”
Friday’s game will kick off at 7 p.m. at Cougar Stadium.
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