In a must-win game for both teams, host Castle Rock pulled away in the second half last Friday for a 35-14 victory over Columbia High that brought final resolution to the SWW 1A League Trico Division football playoff picture.
With the win of its homecoming game, Castle Rock (4-2, 7-2) vaulted over La Center into second place in final Trico standings, while Columbia (3-3, 4-5), with the loss, dropped from a tie for third all the way to fifth.
"It'd been a long time since Columbia had something to play for in week nine, and the kids hung in there for a half," Bruins Coach Matt Whitmire said. "But the story of the game was, we could not stop them defensively."
The Rockets scored on their first three offensive possessions, with their second touchdown of the first half coming on series that followed the recovery of Bruins fumble.
Castle Rock finished with 383 yards of total offense and held Columbia to 169--all on the ground, 57 in the second half.
Columbia, however, got off to a good start, getting a 1-yard touchdown dive by fullback Devin Dean on the last play of a game-opening 11-play, 41-yard drive that lasted 5 minutes, 44 seconds.
But Castle Rock answered on its first possession with a 41-yard scoring pass from Clint Burgoyne to Kyle Karnofski that capped a six-play, 73-yard drive. The Rockets missed the point-after try, though, and trailed--for the only time in the game--7-6.
But that changed just over a minute later when Columbia fumbled the ball in its backfield on a first-down play and Castle Rock's Dane Williams recovered at the CHS 40.
Three plays later, Castle Rock led 14-7 on a 17-yard pass from Burgoyne to Jay Daggy and a run for the 2-point conversion by Chris Tinney.
The Rockets then went for the knockout by recovering the ensuing onside kick at the CHS 49. Castle Rock fumbled on the first snap, however, and Kevin Kreps recovered for CHS near midfield.
Columbia took advantage of the turnover by going 47 yards in 13 plays, in 6 minutes, 20 seconds, for its second touchdown--a 3-yard run by Taylor Champion with 6:50 left in the second quarter.
The Rockets came right back at the Bruins, though, putting together a seven-play, 57-yard march that culminated in a 5-yard run by Rowdy Payne and a 21-14 lead.
But only a goal-line stand by Castle Rock late in the second quarter preserved that advantage.
After a promising start to its fourth drive, Columbia stalled and had to punt. Daggy fielded Carlos Mendoza's punt but lost the ball to Dean, who rumbled all the way down to the Rockets' 1-yard line before being tackled from behind.
Starting with 1:11 left in the half, Columbia took four shots at the end zone but couldn't convert.
It's best chance for a score came on third down from the 2-yard line, but quarterback Andy Pate couldn't make the option pitch to Champion, who would have crossed the goal line untouched.
On the next play, Castle Rock held Dean to a 1-yard gain and took over on downs.
The second half was all Castle Rock as the Rockets started the third quarter with a 62-yard scoring drive, then put together a seven-play, 90-yard drive that ended in the night's final touchdown-- a 28-yard run by Burgoyne--with 3:36 left in the third quarter.
The Bruins hit the road this Saturday for a trip to Tumwater, where they'll meet the Toledo Indians at 4 p.m. in the second game of SWW 1A League crossover triple-header.
Toledo, like Columbia, comes into the Week 10 consolation contest at 4-5. Whitmire said there are other similarities.
"They're almost a carbon copy of us," he noted. "They run the same wing-T offense we run, and they're looking to make a breakthrough with their program, just as we are, by winning their fifth game of the season."
Saturday's pairing will be a rematch of last season's Week 10 opponents. In 2006, the Bruins beat the Indians, 35-20, in Camas.
Whitmire said he is hoping for another strong Week 10 showing by the Bruins.
"It'll be an emotional game for all of us because it's going to be tough seeing this senior group that's been with us four years, and helped revitalize our program, play its last game," Whitmire said. "For that reason alone, I fully expect us to play to our potential."