Conference opponents Salmon River, Council to play for state championship

STATESMAN STAFFNovember 17, 2013 


Quarterback Leighton Vander Esch and the Savages continued to cruise through the 1A Division II state football playoffs Saturday, defeating Dietrich on the road in a semifinal matchup.

Vander Esch had a hand in each of the Savages’ touchdowns, rushing 36 times for 328 yards with five touchdowns and two 2-point conversions. He was 6-of-10 passing for 151 yards, connecting with McCoy Hale for a 75-yard touchdown for the first score of the game.

“His physical ability to run or pass is just unmatched right now in eight-man football,” coach Charlie Shepherd said of Vander Esch. “It doesn’t matter what you try to do to him, he can counter. He’s got the size, he’s got the speed. He’s just a phenomenal football player.”

Vander Esch added 15 tackles to round out his day.

Salmon River collected four interceptions, with Jimmy Shepherd grabbing two, and Hale and Terrun Zolman had one apiece.

“Our bigs guys up front, and then Jimmy and Terrun blocking up front, did an exceptional job,” Charlie Shepherd said.

“We just played outstanding defense, and they struggled to stop our run game.”

It was a windy day in Dietrich — Shepherd said the wind was coming in sideways at about 20 mph — so the Savages reverted to their run game and Dietrich didn’t have an answer for it.

Next up for Salmon River is conference opponent Council.

“I expect Council to make a good showing,” Shepherd said. “And I’m not surprised. … They’ve got a good squad with a balanced attack. They can throw and pass, so it should be quite a challenge.”


Council’s defense paved the way for the Lumberjacks to reach the state final, slowing down Lighthouse Christian’s explosive offense in Council.

Cornerback Corbin Hedges picked off a Lighthouse Christian pass and returned it for a touchdown, and defensive lineman Lucas Daniels helped Council control the line of scrimmage with two drive-stopping fourth-down tackles.

Council QB Mick Wilson threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.

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