There’s just something about a losing streak. The way it depresses morale, defines narratives, hangs over an entire organization. The players and the coaches — is they feel it, like a weight around their necks, one that gets heavier and heavier each week, and with each new loss.
The Canby Cougar football team has been an enduring a losing streak kind of like that, one that has spanned over two years and 22 games. But no longer. The Cougs snapped that streak Friday with a determined, gutsy defeat of visiting Oregon City, 35-28.
It was actually their first win in the brutally tough Three Rivers League in three years, and their first win under first year head coach Jimmy Joyce.
“I really think the guys and community can exhale,” Coach Joyce said afterward. “Those who have seen us play this year, know we have improved, but that doesn’t show in the win/loss column. Now, we have that W.”
Joyce expressed pride in his players and how they have handled themselves through the adversity of the past few years. Wins were within their reach the season, against Lincoln, South Medford and even Lakeridge, but they always slipped through their fingers.
“I am just so happy and proud of these young men, especially the seniors,” he said. “They could have easily walked away after last year. But these guys didn’t, they decided to put in the work and lay a foundation for future success, understanding the obstacles they would face.
“These kids are fighters in the good way. But honestly I think the most inspiring thing I see, is how much they enjoy being together as a team and working together. These are great young men and are very inspiring to us as coaches.”
With their foundation in place, the non-seniors stepped up Friday to help lead the way, especially junior receiver Chance Miller. Already established as one of the league’s most exciting players — and one of the state leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns — he padded out that resume a bit more, gaining an incredible 268 yards against OC, with three scores.
As Canby Herald sportswriter Derek Wiley tweeted Friday, Oregon City defenders are going to be seeing Chance Miller in their nightmares. Every time, the Pioneers threatened to get back in the game, Chance was there with the answer, rattling off 50-yard TD runs at the start of the first and second halves, then taking a screen pass from the Canby 25-yard line all the way to the house to put the game away for good.
Sophomore QB Mikey Gibson, senior running back Wyatt Ramos and senior receiver Jackson Linman did their parts as well, making their own noise in the end zone to preserve the Canby victory.
Coach Joyce said one of the best parts has been seeing how much the win means to the community.
“I really believe Canby is the best football town in Oregon,” Joyce said. “People take pride in what happens under the lights on a Friday night. From clerks at Cutsforth’s whose kids graduated a decade ago, to those who just moved here, football matters. I just hope ending this streak boosts the pride in everyone a little bit.”
The Cougs’ season wraps up this week, with a non-league matchup at home vs. Roseburg. The Indians are 2-6 and ranked 36th in the state, so it’s another winnable game for Canby.
Despite the 1-7 record, Canby actually still has a good chance to make the playoffs, thanks to the strength of their schedule. They’re ranked 35th, only three spots out of the postseason.
The Cougs haven’t seen a playoff game since 2014, and even making it as the 32 seed would be a huge feather in the cap for this rebuilding program.
Sadly, a win against Roseburg does not guarantee anything. Ultimately, the computer algorithms will determine who’s in and who’s out.
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