Entering the playoffs against stingy Knappa, Bandon’s biggest concern might have been how to score. After all, the Loggers had allowed just 53 points all season and only given up as many as three touchdowns in one game.
Bandon found the end zone five times in Saturday’s game. The Tigers’ undoing turned out to be turnovers — four that all led to touchdowns in Knappa’s 62-32 win.
The loss ended Bandon’s season, but the Tigers have a bright future.
“I think we laid a solid foundation we can build a program on,” said Aaron Freitag, who completed his first year as head coach. “A couple freshmen have made it clear they can be leaders. Combined with our sophomore and junior leaders, I’m confident we’ll mature into a solid football team.”
Bandon had just three seniors and quarterback Braydon Freitag, the coach’s son, is a sophomore. A bunch of freshmen were forced into duty because of a lack of upperclassmen and the Tigers still had a strong enough season to get into the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Bandon adds a strong eighth grade group for next year.
Even with their youth, the Tigers struck first in Saturday’s playoff game, which was played in Astoria.
Donavin Phommaphat burst free for a touchdown run nearly eight minutes into the game to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead.
Knappa responded with a pair of scores, but Darian Phommaphat had a long kickoff return after the second Knappa score and his twin brother followed with his second touchdown to pull Bandon within 14-12.
The Tigers forced a Knappa fumble, but couldn’t score, and then Bandon’s own turnovers turned the game quickly in Knappa’s favor.
The Loggers scored to go in front 20-12 with 2:26 to go in the half and then recovered a Bandon fumbled and scored on the ensuing kickoff.
Bandon got a touchdown pass from Braydon Freitag to Coby Smith to pull within 28-20 at halftime, and got the ball first for the second half, but couldn’t maintain the momentum. The Tigers fumbled on their first two third-quarter possessions, Knappa scored on both and then added an interception return for a touchdown, surging in front 48-20.
“Our guys never quit,” Aaron Freitag said. “We had costly turnovers that all turned into TDs. Without those, we’re in it until the end, maybe on top.
“That’s the difference in a veteran team and a rookie team. Nonetheless, we fought until the end and played four quarters of smash-mouth football. I’m proud of our team.”
Braydon Freitag had a pair of touchdown runs in the fourth quarter fir Bandon’s final scores.
Knappa advanced to the quarterfinals and will host Oakland this week after the Oakers topped Sunset Conference champion Gold Beach. Reedsport, which finished second in the Sunset Conference, also lost in the first round of the playoffs, shut out by Santiam.
Despite finishing third in the league standings and advancing to the playoffs, Bandon had just one player named to the all-league first team by the Sunset Conference coaches.
Donavin Phommaphat was named to the first team at defensive back. He also was named to the second team at running back, while Braydon Freitag was the second-team quarterback and Coby Smith the second-team tight end.
Bandon players on the second-team defense were linemen Cayton Sinay and Brennan Boston and linebacker Jack Davis.
Darian Phommaphat, Center Matt Yarbor and lineman Brynn Green were honorable mention picks on offense and Yarbor also was honored at linebacker on defense.
Gold Beach quarterback Taylor Mather was the offensive player of the year and Reedsport’s Gage Billings was the defensive player of the year. Myrtle Point’s Jimmy Farmer and Waldport’s Jack Walker were co-coaches of the year.