News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Santiam to play 9-man football next season

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

By James Day

The Santiam High football team, as well as many of its regular opponents, will be playing a new brand of ball this fall.

The Oregon School Activities Association has changed the format for Class 2A football, with the 37 schools in that classification playing with 9 players on a side instead of the usual 11.

The OSAA made the change after reviewing the work of a special committee that held five public meetings on the topic. Key concerns of the committee and the OSAA are declining numbers and participation as well as player safety. Also, many schools, including Santiam, were not able to field a junior varsity team last fall, which hurts opportunities for player development, particularly for younger athletes.

Santiam will play in an 8-team Tri-River Conference for football, joined by Blanchet Catholic, Chemawa, Colton, Culver, Gervais, Regis and Willamina. The big change for the Tri-River is that Kennedy, which has appeared in the 2A title game four times since 2015, has chosen to play up at Class 3A and continue to play 11-man. 

And to show just how tough these decisions can be it should be noted that Santiam and Regis were playoff teams last fall, finishing second and third, respectively, behind Kennedy in the Tri-River. The Wolverines also advanced to the 2A title game in back-to-back seasons (2017 and 2018) under different head coaches, and Regis won the 2016 2A title.

Wrestling: Santiam coach Kerry Crowston took a startlingly young squad to the Class 2A-1A Special District 1 meet in Rockaway Beach and came away with a ninth-place finish and a state meet participant.

Of the five wrestlers who competed for the Wolverines, four were freshman and Wyatt Dayton, who took second at 138 pounds to advance to the state meet, was the lone sophomore.

Freshmen Jordan Smith (145), Lukas Lebahn (152) and Kent Sawyer (160) all won at least one match, with Evan Breen (152) also participating.

Dayton will compete in the Class 2A-1A state meet Saturday, Feb. 26 in Culver.

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