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The Cougars got their groove back at Canby High School Friday, routing visiting Centennial 35-0 to snap a two-game skid and win their league opener before a near-capacity crowd on Homecoming Night.
The Cougs (4-2, 1-0 Northwest Oregon Conference) were a force to be reckoned with, firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. Head coach Jimmy Joyce told the Current afterward that he was impressed with his team.
“I saw a group of players that were determined to show that we are a team that will be a force come playoff time,” Joyce said. “A great defensive effort, to pitch a shutout against a triple-option offense is a major accomplishment.”
Not only did the Eagles (0-6, 0-1 NWOC) fail to score, they managed only 63 total yards against a highly aggressive Cougar defense that recorded four sacks and 10 tackles for loss, led by senior Braden Snoderly’s six tackles and one sack.
“We have some big-time playmakers on defense,” Joyce said. “Braden Snoderly, Andy Soles and Ben White were lights out at the linebacker position. We hope to get Davis Hagen back this week or next and with him and others we have a lot of skill and depth at that position.”
The injury report for Canby, which has been missing several key players since Week 3, was slightly shorter this week, as junior lineman Gideon Noss returned to the lineup and the multitalented Parker Ackerman saw some action before tweaking his ankle again on the Cougs’ opening drive.
The biggest absence remains star running back Tyler Konold, who was leading the state in rushing yards before rolling his ankle on the opening kickoff of Canby’s Week 3 win over Beaverton.
“We hope to have Tyler back this week in some capacity,” Joyce said, looking ahead to the Cougs’ October 14 tilt with Hood River Valley (2-4, 0-1 NWOC). “He is looking good, but high ankle sprains are tricky, especially for a running back.”
A cadre of rushers have filled in for Konold in the weeks since, but none have carried the load quite as impressively as sophomore running back Taeler Pfenning. The 5-5 spark plug hosted a one-man coming out party Friday night, piling up 188 yards on 17 attempts (11.1 yards per carry) and three touchdowns.
“The running game is a huge part of our offense, and it’s always tough when you lose a guy like Tyler Konold — especially when we entered the season worried about depth at that position,” Joyce said. “Taeler has really emerged. He missed most of his freshman year due to injury, so he wasn’t really on the varsity radar entering spring. But that quickly changed when we started practice.
“He is a very patient runner — something that is hard to find in young players. He also has tremendous breakaway speed and has become a workhorse for us in the last few weeks.”
Joyce also praised another sophomore, quarterback Kellen Oliver, who has also been thrust into the spotlight of late due to lingering injuries for Gage Millar and Ackerman.
While his stat line Friday — 4 for 12 for 39 yards and a touchdown, with another score on the ground — may seem a touch underwhelming, the sophomore signal-caller has grown by leaps and bounds since getting his first varsity minutes a few weeks ago, and plays with a poise that belies his inexperience.
“We are seeing a ton of confidence from an already confident kid,” Joyce said. “He has really stepped up and grown. For a kid that missed his eighth-grade year with the Covid shutdowns and only played frosh ball last year to now be starting on varsity is very impressive. He is getting better with every snap!”
League play will continue Friday as the Cougs stay home to host the Eagles from Hood River Valley. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
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