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Another week, another easy win for the fifth-ranked Canby Cougar football team (5-1, 4-0 Northwest Oregon Conference West), which made quick work of visiting Hillsboro (1-6, 1-3 NWOC) on Homecoming Night Thursday to stay undefeated in league play.
Driven by the tireless work of the team’s front line on both sides of the ball, the high-powered Cougar offense and stout Canby defense breezed to a 35-0 halftime lead en route to a 42-6 victory over the Spartans. It was the Cougs’ fourth-straight game putting more than 40 points on the board while holding their opponents to fewer than 14. It’s also the Cougs’ first Homecoming win in five years.
“You’ve seen the confidence grow in our kids as they’ve become comfortable,” Canby head football coach Jimmy Joyce told The Canby Current afterward. “It’s been about practicing well and becoming comfortable about what we’re trying to do.”
Ever since their Week 2 loss to West Albany, the Cougars have looked as comfortable as ever in the opening period. Over the past four games, they’ve outscored their opponents 98-13 in the first quarter alone — and that trend very much continued on Thursday.
After conceding a decent kick return to the Spartans, Canby’s defense stepped up quickly. At their own 41-yard line, Hillsboro head coach Dan Shuff elected to go for it on 4th and 4, no doubt hoping to keep Canby’s potent offense on the sidelines as long as possible. But the pass fell incomplete, and the vaunted Cougar O took over.
Four plays later, super sophomore Tyler Konold found the end zone for what would turn out, unusually, to be his only score of the night.
Konold, who came into the game leading 5A in both rushing yards (741 on 72 carries) and touchdowns (9), would pick up all 41 yards on the opening drive as the Cougars marched out to lead early. A few minutes later, senior Bryce Oliver barrelled in for a 29-yard score.
Tack on a 29-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Mikey Gibson to Parker Ackerman, and the Cougars coasted to a 21-0 lead in yet another dominant showing.
The second quarter began with Oliver’s second touchdown of the day to put the Cougars up 28-0 with 9:30 left in the half. Canby’s strong offensive line opened up a gargantuan hole so big that the running back could’ve driven a school bus into the end zone — and a grateful Oliver was quick to sing to line’s praises after the game.
“They’ve been studly,” he told The Current. “They’ve created holes that I can get through. They’re all doing a really good job, and I have so much appreciation for them.”
Four minutes later, the offensive line gave Gibson all the time in the world as he fired a bullet that found a leaping Joe Brauckmiller in the end zone to make the score 35-0. Both Brauckmiller and Ackerman have stepped up to become among Gibson’s favorite targets in the Cougs’ receiving corps after his go-to wideout, senior Koby Kessler, went down with an injury against St. Helens.
For the third game in a row, a running clock came into play in the second half, keeping further scoring to a minimum. Gibson sat the entire second half, while his athletic backup, Cameron Lee, took the reins. Lee kept a streak of his own going — scampering into the end zone on a quarterback keeper for the fourth consecutive game for what would be the Cougs’ only score after halftime.
As time wound down and the outcome was assured, the only question left unanswered was, “Would Canby get another shutout?” The Cougars had blanked the Spartans in their previous meeting, a 48-0 drubbing during last year’s Covid-shortened season.
Alas, with only 2:26 left in the game, Hillsboro’s Preston Echeverria broke through for a six-yard score. Homecoming night ended with a final score of 42-6.
While the Cougars weren’t able to notch their first shutout of the season, the defense once again answered the call. The Canby D hasn’t allowed more than 20 points all season, and on Thursday, they forced two interceptions and two turnovers on downs. After the game, a proud Joyce called the group the “backbone of the team.”
“They have this business-like mentality,” Joyce said. “They’re very fundamentally sound kids who like to play really well and execute. That’s what they’ve done for us all year.”
On the offensive end, Konold piled up 146 yards and a score on only eight carries, while Oliver added 91 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Gibson would finish the night 2/5 for 59 yards and two touchdowns — his fourth game in a row with at least two scores through the air.
Canby’s winning streak is the longest for the Cougars since 2012, and their 5-1 start is the school’s best in well over a decade. But next week will be a real test as the Cougs hit the road for a top 10 league show-down with No. 9 Scappoose. Kick-off is at 7 p.m.
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