Izeyah Contreras tries to escape the grasp of a Parrish defender after catching a pass in the flat. Contreras had two touchdown catches for the game (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

Defense had been one of the strengths of the Claggett Creek varsity football squad all season. But in the Salem-Keizer Middle School Championship game, the Panthers couldn’t stop the potent wing-T offense of Parrish. 

Parrish rushed for four touchdowns in the final three quarters and won their second straight championship on Wednesday, Oct. 30, defeating Claggett Creek 28-16. 

“We switched up our defense to a 3-5 to try and contain Parrish’s outside speed. But it’s a tough offense to defend because there is so much misdirection.We got caught watching the football and not pursuing the ball as much as we should,” Claggett Creek head coach Aaron Carr said. 

After both teams made their share of mistakes in the first six minutes, Claggett Creek’s Izeyah Contreras put his team on the board late in the opening period. 

On third-and-10 from their own 27-yard line, Contreras took a toss to the outside and sprinted down the sideline for a 56-yard run to give the Panthers the ball inside the red zone. 

The following play, quarterback Jacob Allen hit Contreras on a crossing rout for the 17-yard touchdown. Manny De-Dios ran in the conversion to put the Panthers on top 8-0.

Early in the second quarter, Claggett Creek had an opportunity to flip the game on its head. 

The Panthers defense forced Parrish into a third-and-long after a holding penalty. As Parrish quarterback T.C. Manumaleuna tried to pick up the first down through the air, he was hit as he threw and the ball was intercepted by Contreras. 

After picking off the pass, Contreras weaved through several tacklers and took the ball 55 yards to the house. But on the play, Allen was called for a blindside block that negated the touchdown. 

The penalty proved proved to alter the game in dramatic fashion. 

“It really shifted the momentum. These guys are really young and it’s tough for them to get over things like that,” Carr said. “It sucked the wind out of us. I thought it was a beautiful block that sprung Izeyah for a touchdown.”

Claggett Creek still retained possession of the ball, but couldn’t get past the line-of-scrimmage on four straight plays as they were forced to turn the ball over on downs. 

Parrish was able to score on their following drive midway through the second quarter to cut the lead to 8-6. Moments later, Parrish forced a Panther turnover, which allowed their offense to get right back on the field.

Parrish scored once again with one second left in the half to take a 14-8 lead into the locker room. 

It appeared that Parrish was on the verge of putting the game away after taking a 22-8 lead early in the fourth quarter. However, Claggett Creek proved that they still had some fight left in them. 

On the first play from scrimmage after the Parrish score, Allen bought himself time outside the pocket and fired a strike on a deep post to Contreras, who rumbled 58 yards for the touchdown. 

But in the end it wasn’t enough as Parrish ran nearly six minutes off the clock and scored on a 32-yard run with 54 seconds remaining in the game. 

Claggett Creek ends the season with a 5-2 record. 

“Win or lose, I’m proud of these guys. They fought hard this season,” Carr said. “Considering that we only had 19 guys, it shows the kids character and how hard they worked to get to this spot."

"We had to have a lot of guys play both ways and it took a lot of stamina and hard work to get them in a position to do that.”