HILLSBORO -- For everyone that thinks of Seaside as a basketball school, it might be time to reconsider.
Sure, the back-to-back 4A boys basketball titles have been impressive. But right now, it’s the football team that’s the talk of the town.
For the first time since winning a title in 1994, the Seagulls will play in a state championship football game. They earned their finals berth Saturday by holding off Gladstone 23-19 in a 4A semifinal at Hillsboro Stadium.
Senior Alexander Teubner ran for 168 yards and one touchdown, threw a halfback pass for a score and was the workhorse on a game-sealing drive in the fourth quarter as No. 3 seed Seaside (10-1) beat No. 2 Gladstone (8-3) for the second time this season.
“It’s pretty crazy. We’ve been talking about this since we were in the third and fourth grade,” Teubner said. “The basketball team has had a chance, so it was kind of our turn to fulfill what we think is our destiny.”
Seagulls coach Jeff Roberts beamed with pride in the moments after addressing his players and their supporters in the bright sunshine following the win.
“About six years ago, seven years ago, I went on a mission to revive this football program and bring this thing back,” Roberts said. “It’s unbelievable to have these people here. We’re a football town now. We’re a football and basketball town.”
Saturday’s game was much different than when the teams met in a nonleague game in Week 3, when Seaside won a shootout 70-46. This time, the teams fought for every yard.
“We knew that 70 probably wasn’t going to happen again,” Teubner said. “But we had to play a full team game to do what we had to do and come out of here with a win, and play one more week.”
The Seagulls led 16-6 at half, getting touchdowns on a 41-yard run by Teubner and a 46-yard pass from Teubner to junior Brayden Johnson. The latter was a play the team put into its offense last week.
“That was my first completion, too,” Teubner said. “That one worked out pretty well.”
But Gladstone wouldn’t go away. The Gladiators pulled within 16-13 late in the third quarter on a 10-yard run by senior quarterback Jake Gehrke, and got the ball back with a chance to take the lead.
Gladstone gambled by going for it on fourth-and-two at its own 28, and sophomore running back Sabastian Pfeiffer was stopped one yard short by senior defensive lineman Travis Fenton.
Two plays later, Seaside senior quarterback Payton Westerholm scrambled 33 yards for a touchdown to push the lead back to 23-13.
The Gladiators cut the lead to 23-19 on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Gehrke to junior tight end JP Peterson with 6:19 left in the game.
They wouldn’t get the ball back, though, as Seaside grinded out the clock with an 11-play drive that reached the Gladstone 12-yard line as time ran out. Teubner carried 10 times for 67 yards on the march as the Gladiators struggled in vain to bring him down.
Gladstone senior running back and defensive back Spencer Boyd said Teubner reminds him of Handsome Smith, the star tailback for the Gladiators’ 2014 title team.
“They’ve got the best running back in the state,” Boyd said of Teubner, who has rushed for 2,217 yards this season. “The kid’s athletic, man.”
Roberts offered his own praise of Teubner.
“Alexander’s the best offensive football player in the state at the 4A level,” Roberts said. “If he doesn’t win player of the year, something’s wrong.”
Gladstone had a 326-318 edge in total yards. The Gladiators rushed for 192 yards -- getting 85 from Pfeiffer and 61 from Boyd -- but could not get loose for big plays. They also produced only nine points from recovering three fumbles deep in Seaside territory.
“Our offense didn’t convert a couple of turnovers where we were real close, and we should have,” Boyd said. “If we would have, it would’ve been a different ballgame. I really think we can hang with this team. I hope they go on to win it.”
If the way Seaside’s basketball team has responded on the biggest stage is any indication, you have to like the Seagulls’ chances. The team’s roster includes several players from the basketball team, including Westerholm, the point guard.
“These kids are winners. The winner mentality,” Roberts said. “These kids are used to winning. They don’t expect to lose. They’re not overwhelmed by the moment.”