Rob Oxford: At the last game of the season, the Rotary Cup stays in Highlander hands
From Shoreline Area News
Story and photos by Rob Oxford
They went from not knowing if they would have a season, to winning 4 out of 5 and keeping the Rotary Cup in Highlander hands.
Thursday night the 2021 Shorecrest Scots ended what was arguably their best season in years with a 50 – 6 win over their crosstown rival Shorewood Thunderbirds.
Normally the most attended game of the season, the Rotary Cup brings alumni from both schools back to town for a weekend of beer drinking, storytelling and chest-thumping. Hopefully next season will return to normal with the stands packed full of fans and the smell of Otis Burgers again permeating the night air.
This season, outscoring their opponents 189 to 32 in just 5 games, the Scots demonstrated that the Shorecrest football program is right where it needs to be. A roster full of talented underclassmen returning in just a few short months, Coach Brandon Christensen and his staff should have a legitimate shot at that elusive Wesco title in 2022.
But before we start raising banners, let's pay homage to the 14 Seniors and their teammates who completely dismantled the Shorewood Thunderbirds last Thursday Night.
The Home team Scots are traditionally escorted into battle by a pack of Pipers. But on this night, led by Seniors Robbie Oxford and Gabe Nelson, the team made their entrance to the sound of “Scotland The Brave” being played on a boombox. Take it from me…(sniff)…still quite effective.
Shorecrest Freshman Logan Yao presented a beautiful rendition of the Star Bangled Banner and before the SC band had finished the school's fight song, the referee was signaling “Touchback” as Gavin Dalziel yet again blasted an opening kick into and out of the end zone.
Starting from their own 20-yard line the T-Birds would immediately get a taste of what the night had in store as the Scots Outside Linebackers Jaxon Taylor and Robbie Oxford were in the backfield almost before the snap, corralling the Shorewood QB for a 2-yard sack.
But a nice option play by T-Bird signal-caller Rahmatullah Salim provided a fresh set of downs and tough running from Jack Dereche moved the ball across midfield into Scots territory. Facing 4th down and 5, the T-Birds opted to throw a deep pass that was broken up by Safety Des Fox. A turnover on downs, the Scots took possession with the ball on their own 42-yard line.
Two plays later the Scots drew first blood. First a quick hitch pass to Des Fox for a gain of 15 yards, followed by a 54-yard sprint to the end zone by “Lightning McQueen”… excuse me, I meant QB Carson Christensen. A delay of game penalty would push the extra point attempt back 5 yards and Kicker Gavin Dalziel would add a little excitement by banging it off the uprights, but through for the first 7 points of the 2020-21 Shoreline Rotary Cup.
After Dalziel’s ensuing kickoff pinned the Thunderbirds inside their own 10-yard line, the Scots Senior Defensive Line of Jacob Halvorsen, Maksim Takhtarev and Jordan Glesener set up camp and started making Smores.
Soon facing 4th and 6 the T-Birds got off a great punt, then the Scots were called for “roughing the kicker,” affording Shorewood 4 more downs on Offense.
Still unable to generate any positive yardage and facing 3rd and 12, an untouched Jaxon Taylor had the T-Birds QB wrapped up 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Fortunately for the T-Birds, Salim was able to mimic enough of a pass to signal an incompletion and the Scots would take over after a short punt by Shorewood Sophomore Isaac Van Horn.
|Raising the cup|
With the ball at midfield, Shorecrest Offensive Coordinator Dillon Baker called #34’s number and 21 yards later, Marcus Tidwell had the Scots sitting at the Thunderbirds 30-yard line. With a minute left in the first quarter, Christensen would find Des Fox (who made a spectacular catch) in the back of the end zone for the Scots second score of the game.
Despite great effort from Sophomore RB Eduardo Eulogio, Shorewood was still unable to move the ball on the Scots Defense. Faced with another 4th and long, the T-Birds opted for a little trickery. Faking the punt and attempting to convert the first down on a pass to 6’5 Senior Zach Herndon. What happened next was a little confusing.
Signaled as a “turnover on downs” the Highlanders took possession on the T-Birds 31 and two plays later had their 3rd score of the night. With excellent protection from Daryl Scott, Carson Christensen was able to find his backup, Andre Lasconia in the end zone for his first touchdown reception of the year.
The PAT attempt was a thing of beauty as Gavin Dalziel lined up the kick and, on the snap, took an over-the-shoulder lob from Holder Des Fox and scurried into the end zone for a 2-point conversion.
Scots 22 – Shorewood 0
Great pass coverage from Zane Morga-Baisac and Ramy Abdalla kept the T-Birds from converting a first down on their next series and the Scots Offense quickly trotted back onto the field.
Moving into Shorewood territory on a 10-yard run by Gabe Nelson, Christensen hooked up with Des Fox for a 38-yard reception and a first down on the ‘Birds 11-yard line. From there it was back to Lucky #7 (Nelson) for another Scots score. With 7:08 left in the first half and up 29 - 0, the Scots were making a statement and it could be heard from every corner of Shoreline.
With halftime rapidly approaching and Shorewood desperately needing a score, the Thunderbird Defense forced a Shorecrest punt. Back for the return Junior Jackson Chou mishandled the reception and the Scots Abdi Gabobe pounced on the loose ball.
Moments later, following Glesener, Halvorsen, Wyatt Patneaude and the rest of the Scots Offensive Line, Ben Seather-Brady slipped 20 yards downfield for the Scots 5th unanswered touchdown. Linfield College Recruit Gavin Dalziel would tack on another extra point and the Scots would have a commanding 36 – 0 lead over the Thunderbirds with 2 full quarters of football left to play.
With :06 left in the first half, Shorewood attempted a Hail Mary pass only to have it intercepted by Des Fox, adding even more stats to his already impressive season totals and taking both teams to intermission.
Thanks to both the Shorecrest and Shorewood Cheer Squad, Hip Hop and Flag Teams performances, the halftime entertainment was a welcome attempt at normalcy. Although both schools’ drumlines were in attendance, Fight Songs just don’t sound the same without horns.
Shorewood would kick off to start the 3rd Quarter and the chances of their attempting an onside kick were high. The chances of their recovering even higher, but a well-placed kick by Sophomore Alberto Solano achieved the desired effect and Shorewood had the ball in Scots territory. Continuing to apply pressure however, the Scots Defense would not relent and soon handed possession of the ball back to its Offense.
What took place next can only be described as heartbreaking for a Senior Wide Receiver playing in his final game. In the span of 3 plays, The Scot’s Des Fox caught not 1 but 2, 55-yard touchdown passes only to have both called back. One for holding and the other for what appeared to this reporter as a phantom “block in the back”. Ever the team player, Fox just shrugged it off and continued to make big plays.
As the evening progressed, stout defense from the Scots continued to prevent the Thunderbirds from building any type of momentum.
With 2nd and 3rd string players seeing a lot of action, Shorecrest showed how deep they are on the defensive side of the ball.
A 56-yard touchdown run by SC Junior Daryl Scott with 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter would activate the “point differential” rule and require the clock to continue running, except for officials’ timeouts.
Try as they might the Thunderbirds were simply unable to get anything going offensively. The final touchdown for the Scots would find Backup QB Andre Lasconia following the likes of Freshman Elijah Glesener, Sophomore Matthew Ma and Juniors LJ Baxter and Grant Bailey 45 yards downfield to the Shorewood 2-yard line. From there, Daryl Scott would add to his touchdown totals with a 2-yard dive.
On the final play of the night Shorewood would avoid the shutout when QB Sontri Jorkhang found their tallest receiver Zack Herndon in the end zone for 6 pts. A rough night for the Thunderbirds, they’ll surely look to exact their revenge next season.
For the past 7 years as both my sons made their way through the program it has been my pleasure to watch and report on the Shorecrest Highlanders for the Shoreline Area News, sharing in the excitement that comes from winning and the stinging disappointment that follows a loss.
I’d like to thank Coach Brandon Christensen and his staff for allowing me the privilege of running the Highlander Football Gridiron Group and Shoreline Athletic Director Don Dalziel for hardly ever saying “no”.
Time to pass the torch.
#66 Always a Scot