By JESSE SOWA/for OSAAtoday
A quick barrage of big second-half plays put Henley's football team on a direct path to finish off its undefeated season.
Leading the way was a sophomore playing well above his grade level.
Joseph Janney was all over the place on offense and defense Saturday night as the Hornets pulled away from Marist Catholic for a 42-28 win in the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 4A final at Caldera High School in Bend.
A quarterback and defensive back, Janney passed for 133 yards with one touchdown and one interception, rushed for 180 yards and four scores, intercepted two passes and was credited with breaking up another.
Alex Stork, Henley's seventh-year head coach, said it's been many different players on his team who have taken the spotlight this season. Saturday just happened to be Janney's turn.
"He stepped up in a big way this week because he hadn't played defense before," Stork said of Janney.
That was made necessary because the Hornets were forced to play Marist without senior running back/linebacker Logan Whitlock, who rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns in the semifinal win against Scappoose but suffered a knee injury in that game. Whitlock went through warmups with his teammates Saturday.
Janney's 12-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter pushed top-seeded Henley (13-0) to a 28-14 lead. Second-seeded Marist (11-2) would come back with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Nick Hudson to Kaden Erlenbush on the second play of the fourth quarter to again close within a score.
Janney threw an interception on the ensuing drive, but the rest of the way belonged to the Hornets from Klamath Falls.
Henley answered the pick by turning Marist over on downs at the Hornet 26 after one first down. On the Spartans' next drive, Janney returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown.
Teammate Kyle Nichols picked off a Hudson pass on Marist's following possession, and the Hornets turned it into a Janney 25-yard touchdown run and a 42-20 lead with 3:40 to go.
Marist, of Eugene, would score once more -- on a Christian Guerrero 9-yard touchdown catch -- and recover the onside kick to follow. But Janney came up with his second pick to ice the game and give Henley its third OSAA state title and first since 1982.
"It was a crazy end of the game, a lot of big plays by both sides. Really proud of how our guys made some big plays when we needed to to put the game away," Stork said.
The Hornets' Jason Kern also had an interception, rushed for 50 yards and shared team-best honors for tackles with Nichols with seven apiece. Chris Janney, a senior and Joseph's older brother, had 56 yards receiving and a touchdown. Luke Bennett had Henley's other interception.
Hudson had 330 yards passing with four touchdowns and four interceptions for Marist, which finished second in the state for the sixth time in school history and the second time in three years. The Spartans also have four state championships, the last in 2009.
Guerrero had a game-high eight catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Brady Bidwell had 61 yards receiving and Aaron Bidwell 52 yards receiving and a score.
James Harvey had 19 tackles, Aiden Hazen 15 tackles and Dennis Jackson Jr. one interception for the Spartans.
Stork said his team, which returned six starters on offense and defense, was motivated by last year's one-point quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Estacada and went to work in the weight room during the offseason.
Stork said the primary factor in his team's success was its unity.
"The bonds we've made with each other have continued to grow each week," the coach said. "We were such a tight-knit group and we weren't ready to be done and we wanted to go out the right way. So to go out with a championship is just a blessing."
After both teams turned the ball over on downs in the opponent's territory to open the game, Marist scored first on Aaron Bidwell's 30-yard touchdown catch from Nick Hudson to mark just the second time Henley had trailed in a game this season. The point-after kick was wide left.
Henley went ahead early in the second quarter on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Joseph Janney to Chris Janney. Jaime Pizano's PAT made it 7-6, Hornets. Henley had to go just 45 yards for the score after Marist went three-and-out deep in its own territory.
Marist went back ahead in a hurry when three snaps later when Guerrero got behind the defense and hauled in a 73-yard Hudson touchdown pass. Aaron Bidwell caught Hudson's two-point conversion toss.
Henley answered with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that Joseph Janney capped with a 1-yard keeper. Pizano's PAT tied the game.
Marist looked in position to regain the lead late in the first half but turned the ball over on downs after getting as far as the Henley 11. An intentional grounding call pushed the Spartans out of field goal range, and a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
Two snaps later, Joseph Janney ran the ball up the middle then veered left and outran the defense for a 70-yard touchdown to put Henley up 21-14 at halftime.