EAGLE This was certainly not the ending the Fruitland High football team had in mind.
But the one-two punch of Shelley quarterback Chad Leckington and receiver McKay Cannon was more than the Fruitland defense could handle in a 37-10 loss to the Russets in Fridays 3A state championship game at Eagle Highs Thunder Stadium.
Leckington completed 17-of-21 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns, and Cannon hauled in 10 of those passes for 118 yards and a score. Cannon also returned an interception 7 yards for a touchdown, and Leckington had one rushing touchdown.
Its overwhelming. It just feels so good, Leckington said. All that hard work weve put in since our freshman year, it finally paid off.
Fruitland (11-1) entered the game ranked No. 1 in the state media poll, and Shelley (12-0) finished the regular-season in the No. 2 spot.
Both teams were unbeaten but this matchup was Shelleys from the start.
The Russets scored on their first possession, a 37-yard run by Leckington. Shelleys defense then held the momentum by stopping the Grizzlies on fourth-and-2 from the Shelley 10.
Our defense came out and was physical from the start, Cannon said. Our linebacking corps and our D-linemen got after it. They set the tone.
The Russets led 6-0 after the first quarter and 21-3 at the half. They extended their lead to as much as 34-3 midway through the fourth quarter.
Fridays victory gave Shelley its fifth state championship in the past 10 seasons.
Fruitland senior quarterback Joe Martarano a Boise State football recruit and top baseball prospect scored the Grizzlies only touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late.
In life, you dont always win, said Fruitland coach Bruce Schlaich, whose program has played in seven consecutive state championship games. Especially with the run that weve had, you lose sight of what it feels like to lose. Life is that way. You have to bounce back and persevere.
Its hard for the seniors to go out on this note, but in a championship, only one teams going to leave a winner. Tonight, it wasnt us.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422