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Football: Fruitland ends Shelley’s season

By PAUL LAMBERT | Post Register | Prsports@postregister.com
FRUITLAND — What would Braxton Balmforth give for just one more 12-minute quarter?

“Anything. Oh man, anything in the world,” Balmforth said.

Unfortunately for Balmforth’s Shelley Russets (9-2), Saturday afternoon’s 3A state football semifinal ended after just four quarters, spoiling the team’s thunderous comeback bid in a 19-13 loss to the Fruitland Grizzlies (11-0).

“I kept telling my team to keep fighting, and we did that,” Balmforth said. “We had some mistakes, and so did they, but it was a good, tough game. I just wish we had one more (quarter).”

Fruitland dominated the early going, racking up 214 yards, including 193 on the ground behind a beefy offensive line. The Grizzlies were similarly dominant on defense, allowing just two Shelley first downs and no points en route to a 13-0 halftime lead.

“Shelley plays Fruitland just about every year (in the playoffs), and we knew we needed to play tougher and get more physical,” senior lineman Levi Sorensen said. “We came back out (in the second half) and started making the plays we know we were capable of.”

Fruitland stretched its lead to 19-0, turning a muffed punt deep in Shelley territory into its third TD rushing touchdown of the game.

Then it was Shelley’s turn to show off.

The Russets broke the scoring drought with an 89-yard catch-and-run from quarterback Jake Wray to Wyatt Remington on their final possession of the third quarter.

Shelley then forced Fruitland fumbles on each of the Grizzlies first two possessions of the fourth quarter, converting the second into a 1-yard TD dive from senior Peyton Whitaker.

The ensuing onside kick failed, however, and with 2:45 left on the clock and Shelley thin on timeouts, Fruitland got the required first down and ran out the clock.

“The bottom line is they never quit,” Shelley coach Jake Monahan said. “They didn’t win, but they didn’t quit either.”

Despite the loss and the heartache of his players, Monahan is confident the future is bright for the Russets as they head to 4A in 2018.

“We have a great group of juniors who have seen a bunch of football over the last two years, and we’ve got to ride those guys in the future as we head into 4A,” he said.

Red-eyed and choked with the emotion finality brings, Sorensen walked off that field in the Oregon border-lands with his head high. No regrets.

“I loved it, every minute of it,” he said. “I kind of feel bad for the ones who didn’t get to play, and I am very thankful to have been able to.”

Shelley 0 0 7 7 — 14
Fruitland 0 13 6 0 — 19
Second quarter
F — Noah Hattrup 44 run (Joe Henggeler kick) 7:27
F — Cole Eiguren 1 run (kick failed) 2:14
Third quarter
F — Jordan Eggers 2 run (pass failed) 5:11
S — Wyatt Remington 89 pass from Jake Wray (Brandon McBride kick) 1:15
Fourth quarter
S — Peyton Whitaker 1 run (McBride kick) 2:48
RUSHING — Shelley: Garrett Murdoch 4-12, Braxton Balmforth 4-7, McBride 4-7, Wray 1-5, Whitaker 1-1. Fruitland: Hattrup 13-77, Alex Becerril 11-53, Eggers 15-49, Eiguren 8-28, Ethan Villalobos 7-25, Canaan Bourcy 4-12.
PASSING — Shelley: Wray 14-25-0-160. Fruitland: Cole Eiguren 1-2-21.
RECEIVING — Shelley: Remington 3-116, McBride 4-28, Mason Price 7-16, Parker Hanson 1-4, Murdoch 1-3. Fruitland: Alex Becerril 1-21.

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