Madison grinds out an ugly victory

Rushing game pushes Senators to first win in game called off by officials
Sept. 14, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,

An inspired halftime coaching move helped the Madison Senators to their first win of the high school football season Friday night, although the game is certain to be remembered for the time of the final score ahead of the score itself.

Senior Charles Riga, replaced as quarterback at halftime, scored twice as a tailback and led the Senators to a 30-12 victory at Jefferson in the Portland Interscholastic League opener for both teams.

The Senators, who trailed 12-6 at the half, outscored Jefferson 24-0 in the second half and were closing out the win when officials abruptly ended the game with 2:59 remaining due to consistent abuse by Jefferson's assistant coaches.

Jefferson racked up more than 200 yards in penalties, including 95 in the third quarter alone, which led one assistant to tell the four-man officiating crew "you're the worst officials I've ever seen" at least 10 times. Midway through that tirade, the game was shut down.

Madison moved to 1-2 with a home game against winless Benson next week.

"This is a big win for us, one we needed," Riga said. "I can feel this win starting us on a streak, and we're not going to stop winning."

Jefferson dropped to 0-3 with a road game against winless Cleveland on tap.

The decision to call the game and actions by assistants to Jefferson coach Aaron Gipson, who is a first-year coach, are likely to attract significant fallout in the coming week. Jefferson's assistant coaches include Alundis Brice, Arthur Williams, Jason Scott as well as former University of Oregon standouts Rashad Bauman and Rasuli Webster, although not all were present Friday.

Despite the game's end, the Senators made a considerable case for being a contender for the PIL title - and certain spot in the Class 5A playoffs - with their running game, powered by Riga, who had a hand in all four Madison touchdowns.

Riga moved the Senators across the field within their run-based option offense in the first half, and scored on a seven-yard run to tie the score at 6-all in the second quarter. But, the Senators fumbled away one possesion at the Jefferson 2, and couldn't take advantage of another opportunity with a drive that started deep in Demos' territory.

At halftime, Madison coach Adam Skyles moved Riga to tailback and inserted junior Schuller Rettig at quarterback, where he had practiced as the starter all week while Riga battled a cold. The Senators took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and drove for a score and the lead when Riga hit senior Austin Powers for a 24-yard score on an option pass. Madison took a two-score lead when Riga finished off a 48-yard drive with a one-yard run with 1:25 left in the third quarter. When Jefferson was whistled for being offside on the extra point, Skyles opted for the two-point try, which worked for a 21-12 lead.

A safety on a botched Jefferson punt, and a 20-yard Riga run in the fourth quarter closed out the scoring.

"Our line stepped up and got the push we needed," Madison senior Jacob Martin said. "This shows that we're one of the most dominant teams in the PIL."

By then, the Democrats were on their way to a loss that will not soon be forgotten, although the players performed quite valiantly.

Jefferson drove for a score on the opening possession of the game and added another score late in the half when Deven Jackson hooked up with Jamartae Brown from eight yards out.

The Democrats were solid on defense in the first half, led by senior nose gaurd Jalean Webb, who finished off the first scoring drive with a one-yard run. Webb, though, suffered a minor foot injury in the third quarter, which caused him to consistenly leave the field.

Jefferson set up Madison with good field position throughout the game through the simple lack of a punting game. The Demos were effectively forced to go on fourth down not matter the down and distance because it could not convert the snap to the punter. Jefferson tried for a first down twice inside its 35 despite needing 17 yards on both occasions. Jackson was sacked on one of the plays and called for intentional grounding on the other.

The consistent flow of the game, which included a significant number of penalties against Madison, proved too much for Jefferson's assistant coaches, at least one of whom was nearly ejected early in the fourth quarter before Gipson talked that situation out of happening.



Week 2 heats up with Grant Bowl game

Neighborhood clash among the state's top games
Sept. 5, 2012

Two schools with perhaps the state's longest-running rivalry, will meet Friday in the annual home game Grant High plays on the city field just outside its doors.

Grant and Jefferson, located just 40 blocks apart, suit up for a 4 p.m. game as the state moves into the second week of action.

The rivalry between the Northeast Portland schools extends to 1924 when Grant opened its doors. Combined, the two schools have won or tied for nine state titles.

Both teams lost their openers Friday: Class 6A Grant at Centennial, 49-42, and Class 5A Jefferson at home to Woodburn, 21-14, in coach Aaron Gipson's first game as head coach.

In other highlight games, Central Catholic travels to Eugene to play Sheldon in a rematch of a Class 6A semifinal from December. Sheldon won 19-8 at Jeld-Wen Field, but lost the title game the following week to Lake Oswego.

In other Class 6A highlight games, Roseburg is at Sprague, Westview travels to South Medford, Lake Oswego visits Centennial and Tualatin plays at Southridge.

In Class 5A, Sherwood is at Marist in a Class 5A game among teams that reached the semifinals last fall. Marist fell to Mountain View in the semifinals, a week before Sherwood lost 14-13 to the Cougars in the title game.

Also Friday, Mountain View takes on visiting Century of the Class 6A Pacific Conference. Sept. 14, Mountain View plays host to Class 6A Sprague.

North Portland's Roosevelt High will show off its refurbished track Friday when it plays host to Gladstone of Class 4A.

At Class 4A, defending champion LaSalle of Milwaukie is at Douglas, while Klamath Union travels to Ridgeview of Redmond, which will be playing its first game against an Oregon team after dispatching Medicine Hat, Alberta, 53-6 Friday. Also, LaGrande, which lost its opener 58-14 to Class 3A Nyssa, is set to play in Sacramento, Calif., on Saturday against the Hiram Johnson Warriors.

In Class 3A, Cascade Christian of Medford, which beat defending state champion Santiam Christian handily in its opener, plays at Class 4A Henley, which lost its opener in overtime to Class 5A Crook County. Also, Rainier is host to Horizon Christian of Tualatin.

At Class 2A, defending champion Gold Beach plays host to Regis in a rematch of a quarterfinal from last year. Also, Weston-McEwen, a semifinalist from last year, is one of three schools at the class set to play teams from Washington.

And, at Class 1A, defending champion Perrydale, which lost to Camas Valley last week in a rematch of the 2011 final, plays host Friday to Siletz Valley, which won its opener 80-20. Camas Valley plays host to Butte Falls on Saturday.


Hard work pays off for Jones, Kentucky

COLUMN: Former Jefferson standout earns high praise for his consistency
April 2, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,

Congrats Coach Cal, and those boys who got you your first NCAA men's basketball title Monday night.

Especially, the Portlanders: Terrence Jones and Kyle Wiltjer; both of whom have experienced quite a lot of success in their young basketball careers. Each has three state titles and, now, an NCAA title in hand.

Their careers are ready to be judged by their professional results with Jones on the fast-track to this year's NBA Draft. Of the players on the Kentucky roster, he might have done the most good for himself during the title run simply by not doing too much.

Even though Jones is among the players analysts regularly consider an NBA Lottery pick, he's also regularly viewed as a questionable talent, something that gets written about as "when he shows up," which isn't a great thing to have in your talent bio.

Jones has developed that line for years, which I got to see first-hand at Jefferson.

The Democrats won Class 5A titles in 2008, '09 and '10, but during his final two seasons he was basically allowed to do whatever in most games. Jefferson lost only two games to another Portland Interscholastic League team in those three seasons, and I happened to see one - to Franklin, a Class 6A school that didn't win a playoff game. The Demos lost because the Quakers were an inspired, scrappy group, and Jefferson regularly played defense with four players. Jones rarely crossed mid-court to play defense. He did this in a lot of games as a junior and senior, and didn't move to Kentucky with a ton of fans from the PIL, something honed even further when he picked Washington as his school of choice via the Internet, then changed his mind five minutes later.

For people who work hard and value commitment, Jones didn't head to Kentucky with a lot of fans who'd seen him in person.

(As Jefferson is my neighborhood school and I've often volunteered there, I visited the campus plenty and Jones was almost always in the main hall, no matter what time I visited.)

During his freshman season in Lexington, he played quite a bit and seemed to always be listed among the top 10 players headed for the 2011 NBA Draft as a small forward. The lockout was probably one of the best things that could have happened to him as it helped those around him motivate him to stay in school.

In his sophomore season, he continued to develop as a player, and hopefully as a person, and won an NCAA title, which is a pretty rare accomplishment - just ask Coach John Calipari.

His draft ranking seems to have slipped in the past year - from that Top 5 to Top 15 arena - which will affect his rookie contract, but the extra year has likely given him a better shot at a longer pro career.

So, what kind of professional is Terrence Jones likely to be? That's the question for every draftee.

Jones showed a lot of what his true potential is, at least in his early years, during the Final Four. He's mostly going to be a defensive presence. Almost all of his points were scored on dunks, finishing a fastbreak or cleaning up someone else's miss. He rarely attempted a jump shot, or even posted up despite his size: 6-foot-9, 252 pounds.

Jones entered Kentucky as a shooter, a small forward, but only attempted seven 3-point shots in six tournament games as a sophomore. He made just 13 of 26 free throws in the same six games. He finished the Final Four with just 15 total points, but grabbed 14 rebounds and had four blocked shots. He helped both Louisville and Kansas struggle to score inside - both teams missed numerous dunks.

What Jones did in this tournament is provide a better idea for NBA general managers of who he can be as a rookie, what role he can play: mostly as a garbage man on offense and general stud on defense.

There's room for that kind of player in the NBA, especially one that's in the neighborhood of winning a title without having to lean on him for too much in the early part of his career.

Of course, there's a lot of other guys in the league already in that position and not looking to give up their minutes very easily.

So, bravo TJ, for starting the long process of winning back the fans of hard work and commitment, a fan base that doesn't look for points, but results.


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