In this day and age of technology, I can write this story with no worries that the world is not hanging on my words to deliver the score of the Portland vs West Catholic Regional game and if you are, I’M SORRY!
When you are as vested in a team, program and community it can be hard to write the final story of the last game when it’s a loss. I, much like the players, coaches and parents, have been coping with this bitter end to this season. I can say this with the utmost certainty though, this Portland Raider team battled until the end! There should not have been any hanging of any heads as Portland fought hard but came up short against the Grand Rapids West Catholic Falcons as they fell 28-26.
The night started with a strange power outage. It was a good 20 minutes or so before kickoff, but with the added press for this game it showed that our football facilities are not up to par with all other schools playing this late in the season.
The First Quarter would see Portland control possession as both teams probed the opposing defenses for weakness. At the end of the 1st quarter it was Portland 0 and West Catholic 0.
To start the 2nd Quarter, Portland had the ball and would go for it on 4th and 3 converting when (Sr) QB Austin Allison found (Sr) WR Gavin Dennany to get the 1st down. That would set up a 21-yard Touchdown by Dennany on a reverse run. (Jr) K Tate Dziewiatkowski would convert on the extra point kick making it Portland 7 Grand Rapids West Catholic 0 with 10:35 left in the half. However West Catholic would answer quickly when (Sr) West Catholic QB Gaetano Vallone found (Jr) West Catholic WR Nick Dorato for a 59-yard touchdown with 9:53 left in the half. The extra point was good tying the score 7-7. Portland would drive down the field but the West Catholic defense would force a 38-yard Field Goal attempt from Dziewiatkowski which he missed wide left with 6:00 left in the half. West Catholic would put together a drive that would be finished with a Vallone 3-yard TD run. The extra point was good putting West Catholic up 14 – 7 with 1:39 left in the half. Portland would get a big Kickoff return by (Sr) KR Brock Gross giving the Raiders great field position at the 50-yard line however the West Catholic defense would force a turnover on downs from their own 37-yard line with :39 second left. With :21 seconds left (Jr) S Cade Parmalee would intercept a Vallone pass giving Portland the ball on their own 47-yard line. Allison would find Dennany again for a 30-yard TD with :01 left in the half. Dziewiatkowski converted the extra point kick. At the half it was Portland 14 Grand Rapids West Catholic 14.
Portland would open the 2nd half by driving down the field. After an incompletion in the end zone, Portland was forced to kick a 35-yard FG but was missed. West Catholic would take advantage of the Portland miscues and see Vallone score from 2 yards out. After the extra point West Catholic went up 21 to 14 with 5:04 left in the 3rd Quarter. AT the end of the 3rd quarter Portland 14 Grand Rapids West Catholic 21.
With 9:20 left in the game (Sr) West Catholic RB Zack Lee broke a few tackles to score on a 67-yard run. The extra point was good putting West Catholic up 28 – 14. However, Portland would not be done. With 8:29 left in the game, Allison would hit Dennany for a 51-yard TD but the extra point was no good. Portland 20 West Catholic 28. (Jr) DE Jacob Hickling would come up with a big interception with 5:25 left in the game. Portland would put together a drive and on a key 3rd and 7 play, Dennany would rip off a 34-yard run on another reverse taking the ball all the way down to the West Catholic 19 yard line with 1:39 left in the game. With 1:25 left in the game, Allison would go over the top for a 1-yard TD run. However, Allison could not find a receiver on the 2-point conversion making it Portland 26 West Catholic 28. Portland would get the ball back on a well designed onside kick. With :33 left in the game though Allison was forced to throw up a desperation pass that was intercepted. West Catholic just took a knee to end the game making the final score West Catholic 28 Portland 26.
It cannot be overemphasized how this team grew over this season and never quit. Dennany had an amazing game finishing with 6 receptions for 169 yards and 2 TD receptions while running 4 times for 89 yards and another TD. Allison finished 15 of 26 for 280 yards 2 TD’s and 1 Int while running 12 times for 28 yards and a TD. Leading the defense was Dennany with 7 tackles. (Sr) LB Dean Battley added 6 tackles with 2 for a loss.
On a personal note and message to these kids, I appreciate all that you did. You put in the time and effort it makes to be a champion but sometimes it doesn’t end with a win on the field but it does help set up a win in life. Do me a favor. All of you. Especially Brock Gross, Dean Battley, Travis Costello, Devin Miller, Austin Allison, Gavin Dennany and Aidan Watts (because I know I will see you all over more than the next few years) look back on that night with pride. With RAIDER PRIDE! And smile knowing you were able to go further than only one other team in Portland history. You all have a lot ahead of you. Bigger things are coming. Football is a lot of things but in the end, it’s a game. Next season will be upon us before we know it though. So now it’s up to you Dylan Arthur, Owen Guilford, Mitchell Mallek, Jay Davids, Mitch Savage, Jacob Hickling, Hunter Klein. Do what others aren’t doing or won’t do to be champions. Until next year Onward Portland!