At halftime in the big game, Rainier and Cascade Christian were tied 14-14 for the football 3A state championship. The undefeated 2018 Columbians would go on to win 44-14.
Reports from the field said hundreds were in attendance at Cottage Grove High School, where wet field conditions but fair weather greeted the Columbians and the Challengers. Cascade won the coin toss and kicked-off to Rainier.
Driving from the 29-yard line, the Columbians scored first. A 37-yard run by Rainier senior quarterback Joey Tripp preceded him rushing a 5-yard touchdown, though the conversion would fail.
The Challengers stepped off from their 40-yard line the first time out, and despite a difficult push up the field, they answered with a passing touchdown and point after. Cascade appeared to be holding Rainier’s offense through the end of the first quarter.
The stiff defensive would lead to a turnover on downs by Rainier, eating up timeouts on both sides in the process. The Challengers brawled their way to another ground-and-pound touchdown, bringing the game to 14-6 Cascade.
A 21-yard run by junior running back David Katon brought the green into the red zone, where Katon rushed for another 16 yards to score, followed by a Tripp conversion for two.
With the game tied and halftime looming, Rainier freshmen defensive back Kenney Tripp would intercept a Cascade pass and put the Columbians on their own 25-yard line. A drive that included an 18-yard pass had Rainier inside the Cascade 20-yard line at the half.
The Columbians kicked-off to Cascade entering the third quarter, picking up a sack by junior lineman Nate Gaines, leaving the Challengers on Rainier’s 31-yard line.
A timeout wasn’t enough to recalculate their drive, forcing a Cascade turnover that would clear the path for a touchdown on the run with a two-point conversion.
Rainier opened the fourth quarter with an interception that put the Columbians on their 33-yard line. Katon broke loose for a 33-yard touchdown run, bringing the score to 28-14.
The Columbian’s defense continued to stuff the Challengers, never giving a chance for a comeback.
Tripp put the game out of reach with fourth-quarter rush to the end zone and conversion, and Rainier senior defensive back Devion Godfrey ended any hopes of a miracle with an interception with less than two minutes left to play.
The win marked the first time since 2010 Rainier has captured the Oregon School Activities Association 3A Football State Championship.
"We just keep going and going; there's nobody that can stop us," Rainier School District Superintendent Michael Carter said.
Carter credited the coaches and players for their hard work and the community for its support. He highlighted the focus on sportsmanship for the unstoppable Rainier athletes.
Rainier Mayor Jerry Cole was also celebrating the town’s victory after the game. “Rainier is proud of our Rainier Columbians football team,” Cole said.
This story is developing and updates will be posted
Jeremiah Cameron contributed to this report