COOS BAY — Zach Kellar streaks down the sideline, sliding through tacklers on his way to set up a short touchdown. Tristin Lemmons breaks into the secondary and weaves through the defense, making rounded but fast cuts on the Kent Wigle Field turf. Devin Benson explodes past the line to score an untouched touchdown.
The trio of ball-carries for the third-ranked Marshfield Pirates possesses a killer trait: that of speed.
“We have so much speed, so many threats that it’s hard to cover each person,” Kellar said.
“It’s hard to pinpoint one guy because everyone’s their own secret weapon,” Benson added.
Head coach John Lemmons runs a no-nonsense practice with a tempo, so the Pirates are drilled daily on playing fast. It helps that they’re good athletes.
“I think we’re a fast team altogether because how my dad just is like, ‘Go, go, go,’” Tristin Lemmons said. “He doesn’t give us a break.”
Marshfield’s offense has been productive all season, using a balance of passing and throwing to average better than 40 points per game over nine contests as the unbeaten Pirates have advanced to the Class 4A quarterfinals and a home game Friday night against La Grande. It’s versatility is a huge asset, with Kellar acting as a dual threat to catch and run and the backfield tandem of Lemmons and Benson churning out yards and Grant Woolsey throwing to Cory Stover and Jacob Dean and Kellar.
But it’s the speed that makes Marshfield exciting to watch and a threat to score on every play.
It’s been some time since the trio ran a timed 40-yard dash, but Benson remembered the times. He, the smallest of the trio, ran 40 yards in 4.3 seconds, Kellar ran in 4.4 and Lemmons in 4.5 seconds.
Kellar, Benson and Lemmons were all members of the Pirates’ state-champion 4x400 relay team at last year’s state track meet, a win that clinched the team title for Marshfield. They credited Mac McIntosh, who died in August after a two-year battle with cancer, for taking them from merely fast to state-champion fast.
“I think at first we were really surprised by Coach Mac in the beginning,” Benson said. “Neither one of us thought we could get to where we were at the end of the season. Then by football season we were pretty used to being fast.”
Kellar was second in the 200 and 400 at the state meet. Lemmons was fourth in the 300-meter hurdles and he and Benson were part of the 4x100 relay team that placed eighth.
The impact of the track program is evident throughout the football squad. Receiver and defensive back Chase Howerton was third in the pole vault last spring. Lineman Phillip Hernandez was fifth in the shot put, Cody Jadin was eighth in the long jump and and running back/linebacker Sirus Robie was 11th in the triple jump.
Lemmons has been the horse of the running game. He’s carried a team-leading 108 times for 886 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s gone over 100 yards six times, averages 98.7 yards per game and 8.2 yards per carry.
He’s backfield mate, Benson, is second on the team in rushing, accruing 586 yards on 68 carries and seven touchdowns. Kellar has three touchdowns and 367 yards on 35 carries.
To describe each other’s running styles, they went to cats.
Lemmons described Kellar as a cheetah and Benson a tiger, and Benson called Lemmons a cougar.
“Zach is fast an elusive, like a cheetah,” Lemmons said. “Devon’s like a big ol’ tiger, just running as hard as he can through anything.”
Together, they provide Marshfield a big boost as the Pirates continue their march through the playoffs.