For the first time since 2016, Dayton beat Amity. For the first time since 2013, they did so on the road. For the first time since 1998, this game went to overtime.
We called our shot when Jacob Peterson was hired, and we should have stuck to our guns predicting this game tonight. Make no mistake: this game was not a fluke. This is program-defining, and in the long run, it could be state-landscape-altering. Here’s what we saw:
- Nate Arce is already a candidate for the 2022 state player of the year award. He runs with his shoulders down, he always looks like he wants to hit somebody, and his vision is second to none. A week ago, we saw Dayton as a first round exit no matter the matchup, though they could give some teams a stiff challenge. But after seeing Arce in person, there is a chance they will be favorites next Friday. Given the right matchup, this team can go places not just next year, not just in the future, but right now. Much of this is due to Nate Arce, and what he can do running the ball off tackle.
- Not enough can be said about the offensive line of Dayton. In the preseason, there were questions about just how physical this group would be, whether they could push around playoff level defensive lines, and whether they would be this team’s limitation, not its strength. Those questions have been answered emphatically, conclusively, and they never should be brought up again. The Pirate offensive line won this game tonight. Nate Arce did a lot of the heavy lifting, along with his backfield mates and defensive contemporaries, but the big men up front truly won the game and won it Peterson‘s way. They pushed around an Amity front whose sole focus was the Dayton backfield, showing no creedence nor care for the Pirate passing game. The Dayton offensive line competed against one of the better defensive lines in the entire classification and dominated at times. The line of scrimmage tonight yielded a program defining victory. Of all that follows, that is the biggest takeaway from the game.
- The Pirate defense also cannot be lauded enough. Outside of one offensive drive in the first half and a drive that ultimately yielded no points at the end of regulation, Amity did nothing when they had the ball. Clark could not move the ball, Grove could not move the ball, and Black could not move the ball. Dayton put a cap on top of the Warriors, sealed the edges, and dominated the trenches. The Amity Wing-T that has carved up the Dayton defense for all these years suddenly looked stale, stuck back on its heels, and without answers.
- Enough cannot be said about the work of Head Coach Jacob Peterson and his staff. It is a testament to what they have done that in two seasons, the Pirates have gone from the biggest blowout in the history of the Amity-Dayton in series to out-toughing, out physical-ing, and out-gritting the well-established Amity Warriors on their own field. That it was done on grass, and in places mud, in the cold and noisy confines of Scoggins Field at Amity High School, must have Dewey Sullivan smiling. This is the Dayton of old. This was a prove-it game, a gut-check game, a man’s man game, and Dayton passed the test. Had they beaten La Pine, Jacob Peterson would likely be the frontrunner for coach of the year. Given a solid playoff run, he still could be. If nothing else, it must be acknowledged what he has done in such a short time with the storied Dayton program.
- Amity did a lot of things tonight to be proud of. They held Dayton to two scores, one of which was in overtime. Do not mistake our praising of Dayton in this physical matchup for dominance over Amity in every stage of the game. The Warrior defense showed what it was capable of many times, forcing turnovers and keeping Amity in the game. Reagan Clark and company did enough defensively to win the game, but withholding a pick-six or fumble-six coming from that side of the football, the Warriors were going to have a hard time pulling it out. Amity can go on the road and win in the first round because their defense is more than capable of shutting down a physical team like Sutherlin or Vale. The Warriors hits hard—their style of defense fits their mystique perfectly—and it showed for most of tonight’s game. Only in overtime did the Warriors truly get outmuscled. Dayton pushed around Amity’s front-six often in this game, but they never popped off field-length runs or moved the ball at will. The Warriors fought through the toughest patches and had a chance to pull it out. Fighting for a full forty-eight minutes in a game like this is a testament to the strength of their program and the toughness of their players.
With all of that said, this was Dayton’s night. With the win, it’s Dayton’s league.
This was a throwback game. Record this game on VHS, and it could be easily mistaken for tape from thirty years ago.
Photos taken by Logan Hannigan-Downs (@LHannDowns on twitter)
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