HILLSBORO – Nothing speaks to the best of high-school sports better than high-level competition finishing with the victors paying tribute to the vanquished.
Central Catholic broke free from a 28-28 tie in the third quarter and posted the final 21 points of the game on the way to the Class 6A state high school football championship in Hillsboro Stadium Saturday afternoon.
And winning coach Steve Pyne of the Rams took the time, when he was basking in the glory of winning his third state title with the Rams since arriving in 2003,to pay tribute to the coach on the opposite sideline, when he was asked what had made his program so successful over the last several seasons.
“Culture,” he said. “Creating a culture where kids feel valued. We’re honest with kids and we’re pushing them to a level they didn’t know they could get to -- not only as football players but as young men.
“I have to tip my hat to coach (Steve) Coury over there. He shared a lot of things with me early in my career at Central that we’ve adopted and kind of put our own spin on.”
The kinds of things that build character, pride and accountability – the backbone of high-school sports.
Rams quarterback Cade Knighton, who was spectacular Saturday afternoon at the helm of his team’s diverse offense, was asked what made his team champions.
“It’s all about family and love,” he said. “It’s a great community, on and off the field. Little things… like our alumni coming back for Thanksgiving practice, sharing with us.”
Knighton, on a wet and chilly field with occasional raindrops, connected on 31 of 36 passes for 396 yards and three touchdowns. He had plenty of help on the ground from Elijah Elliott, who ran for three TDs.
Coury, who was trying to win his third state championship, spent time congratulating Central Catholic players and coaches after the game and then embracing Anthony Newman, the former Oregon Duck defensive back with a long playing career in the NFL, who has been on Pyne’s defensive staff, but is retiring after this game.
“First of all, credit Lake Oswego and Steve Coury,” Newman said. “Casey Filkins (the Lakers’ do-it-all quarterback/running back) is unbelievable. "It was a sweet win. Emotional. I’ve been coaching here for 12 years. Now I’m going to try to kick back. And to go out on top with these kids… It’s all about relationships. It’s not about what I know. It’s what I can help them with life, in general.”
Knighton seemed to feel comfortable throwing the wet football all afternoon.
“We just executed what we were supposed to execute,” he said. “It wasn’t that tough. It was mind over matter. Our coach always tells us how to deal with adversity.”
And the culture has a lot to do with that.
“It’s been a long time,” Knighton said. “We have 33 seniors and the last four years we’ve grown together a lot. We know how we play and we know how to help each other.”
Filkins, as is his custom, was all over the field for the Lakers. He carried the ball fir 238 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 97 and another score. Coury calls him the best player he’s ever had and it’s easy to see why.
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