by Randy Parks
Trace Tiller dives into the end zone for the Hilanders’ first score. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)
On paper, it looked like a super match-up: Two 12-0 teams that had dominated their opponents throughout the regular season meeting in the OSAA Class 2A football championship game.
On the field, however, it was a different story, as the Burns Hilanders shut out the Heppner Mustangs 49-0 to win their first state football title.
The Hilanders’ offense piled up 516 total yards, while the defense held the Mustangs to just 102 yards, came up with two interceptions, and blocked a punt for a safety.
Despite moderate snowfall throughout the contest, the Hilanders’ Austin Feist was on target, completing nine of 15 passes for 235 yards and four touchdowns. Jeff Davies led Burns’ running attack, gaining 190 yards on 20 carries.
Burns scored on the game’s opening possession, putting together a nine-play, 60-yard drive, and getting the touchdown on a 10-yard run by Trace Tiller.
Heppner had to punt on their first possession, and pinned the Hilanders back at their own 1-yard line. Facing a third-and four, Feist threw to Ty Hueckman for a 15-yard gain, and two plays later, hit Jack Van Tassel for a 69-yard touchdown, and a 14-0 lead.
Burns defense forced another punt, and Feist returned the kick back to the Heppner 29. With 20 seconds left in the first quarter, Feist threw his second touchdown pass of the game, a 19-yarder to Tiller, to grab a 20-0 lead.
On the first play of the second quarter, Feist picked off a pass by the Mustangs’ Kaden Clark, giving the Hilanders a first down at the Heppner 42.
Burns then made it 28-0 on a 26-yard scoring run by Davies, and a two-point conversion pass from Bryce Goss to Davies.
The Hilanders’ next possession ended with a 51-yard scoring pass from Feist to Tiller down the middle of the field.
Heppner started their next drive at their own 14, and gained just two yards on three running plays. With the Heppner punter standing in his own end zone, the Hilanders’ Taylor Klus broke through the line and blocked the punt, sending it through the back of the end zone for a safety.
With 1:41 left in the first half, Feist slipped through the defense and raced 50 yards for the score and a 42-0 lead at halftime.
The eight seniors on the team raised the trophy after the presentation on the field. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)
Midway through the third quarter, Trey Recanzone caught a 31-yard scoring pass from Feist, sending the game into the “running clock” mode.
As the final seconds of the contest ticked away, those clad in purple and gold, both on the sidelines and in the bleachers, began the celebration.
Burns had reached the championship twice before, losing in 1979 and 1999, but this year they were not to be denied, finishing the season 13-0 with the trophy in hand.
“It was all fun,” Burns coach Terry Graham said. “It was all kind of surreal, as well. I’m just happy that the kids and the coaches got what they wanted. And all the people who were in the parking lot after the game, all the people who have done things for the team, now and before, this is the only thing I could ever give back to them — a state championship that wasn’t attainable before.”
Looking back on the season, Graham said it all started in July at football camp. “That’s where we set the goal, and we got it,” he said. “The kids were telling me all year long, ‘Coach, we’re going to get you that state championship.’ That’s been the goal all year long.
“I didn’t think we’d win like that, but I didn’t think we’d beat Cascade Christian like that, or Nyssa like that. I didn’t think we’d lose, but I thought those games would have been closer.
“And we knew we’d go as far as our linemen would take us, and they took us all the way. Not to take anything away from the skilled positions, but the line really did a great job. It really was a total team effort, the players and coaches, and we were fortunate to not have any season-ending injuries.”
Hepp 0 0 0 0 0
Bur 20 22 7 0 49
Bur — Trace Tiller 10 run (James Obradovich kick) 2:52
Bur — Jack Van Tassel 69 pass from Austin Feist (Obradovich kick) 8:30
Bur — Tiller 19 pass from Feist (run failed) 11:40
Bur —Jeff Davies 26 run (Davies pass from Bryce Goss) 1:15
Bur — Tiller 51 pass from Feist (kick failed) 4:38
Bur — Taylor Klus blocked a punt for a safety 7:06
Bur — Feist 50 run (pass failed) 10:29
Bur — Trey Recanzone 31 pass from Feist (Obradovich kick) 4:49
Rushing — Burns, J. Davies 20-190, Feist 8-49, Recanzone 2-17, Blackburn 1-9, Tiller 1-10, Goss 2-4, Gunderson 2-2. Heppner, Kindle 6-10, Clark 8-(-15), Putman 4-13, Corbin 1-4, Rill 2-23, Lindsay 1-0, Dougherty 1-0.
Passing — Burns, Feist 9-15-0 0 235, Recanzone 0-1-0 0. Heppner, Clark 7-18-2 67.
Receiving — Burns, Recanzone 1-31, Tiller 3-87, Blackburn 2-28, Hueckman 1-15, Van Tassel 1-69, Lewellen 1-5. Heppner, Putman 2-8, Corbin 1-1, Collins 2-27, Rill 2-31.