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Canby’s unbeaten start to the 2022 season came to a screeching halt on Friday, as the visiting Bend Lava Bears (4-0) rolled over an injury-plagued Cougar squad missing all-state running back Tyler Konold and other key players, 35-0, to drop to 3-1 on the season.
The No. 2-ranked Lava Bears came into Friday night’s game firing on all cylinders, having allowed only seven points in their first three games while averaging nearly 48.
They wasted little time setting the tone at Cougar Stadium, forcing Canby into a three-and-out in its opening drive before punching their first score into the end zone.
The Lava Bears piled up 320 yards of total offense, most of it on the ground, in a game that triggered a running clock throughout the fourth quarter and ended before 9 p.m.
Running backs Austin Baker and Malaki Nutter combined for 168 rushing yards and three scores, while quarterback Logan Malinowski passed for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, the run-heavy Cougs keenly felt the absence of Konold, who led the state in rushing yards before injuring his ankle in the opening kickoff last week against Beaverton, being held to minus-19 yards on the ground by the swarming Bend defense.
Canby’s backfield was filled with Lava Bears all night, overwhelming a young offensive line that is still a work in progress after losing three all-league first-teamers to graduation last year.
With junior quarterback Gage Millar also out due to injury for the second straight game, fill-ins Parker Ackerman and Kellen Oliver impressed head coach Jimmy Joyce with their poise under pressure.
“Parker Ackerman deserves a lot of credit,” Joyce told the Current. “He is our Swiss Army knife and a big-time player and leader. We have asked him to do a lot of different things and he is always willing. He is also playing far from healthy, but you wouldn’t know that. He battled hard and fought through. He is a real warrior.”
Joyce, who was also in his second day back after being absent due to illness this week, applauded all of his players for their guts, toughness and courage under fire.
“Definitely a learning experience for a young group of guys,” he said. “All the credit should go to Bend. They are a great team with a great senior class. We are obviously facing a lot of adversity. But adversity reveals character, and I like our character.
“When I spoke to the guys after, I didn’t see disappointment or sadness. I saw hunger and anger, because they know they are better. That is a big step in the right direction.”
Joining Konold and Millar on the injured list were senior linebackers Davis Hagen, whose presence on the offensive line and on defense were sorely missed, and Walker Conroy.
Playmaking junior wide receiver and defensive back Cohen Hall saw some action after getting cleared, including a spectacular end zone interception in the first quarter, but was reinjured early.
“We also had a number of guys who played at 80 to 85%,” Joyce said. “By the time league play starts in two weeks, we should be healthy and ready to go.”
One bright spot for Canby was the emergence of sophomore running back Taeler Pfenning, who posted several nice gains in the first carries of his varsity career Friday.
And Canby’s defense, while shorthanded and overmatched, held the high-powered Lava Bear offense to 12 points below its season average.
“We definitely made them work for it,” Joyce said. “In other games, it was a lot of two- and three-play drives. The offense they run is challenging when run right, and they run it right and very well. Almost all their starters are seniors who have grown up running it, and it shows.”
Alas, an easy bounce-back game is not in the cards for Canby, as they will head to Southridge High School in Beaverton Friday to face the undefeated Skyhawks (4-0). Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
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