Clackamas wins wild final

A late field goal earns Cavaliers 31-30 win over South Medford
By Cliff Pfenning,

CORVALLIS - Clackamas closed out an undefeated season with the most memorable of wins - a late field goal earning the Cavaliers their first state title.

Jeffrey Nelson nailed a 37-yard field goal with three seconds remaining for the final points of a wild game that included several key emotional swings in the final four minutes.

Trailing 30-28, Clackamas failed on a fourth-down play at the South Medford 41 with 4:02 left in the game. then failed to stop the Panthers on their fourth-down attempt from midfield - the Panthers earning a first down by just inches with two minutes remaining. Needing a dramatic turn of events, the Cavaliers forced a fumble just seconds later and started the game-winning drive on its 21 with 1:39 left.

Amazingly, the Cavs were able to run 10 plays to reach the South Medford 20, setting Nelson up for the winning score.

Clackamas, which reached the semifinals last season, got 160 yards and three touchdowns rushing from James Millspaugh, and 230 yards and a scoring pass from Mitchell Modjeski

South Medford, playing in its first title game, got three touchdown passes from quarterback Robbie Patterson, who also ran for a score.




Cardinals move PIL forward

Football playoffs begin with few upsets statewide

The OSAA football playoffs got underway Friday with the usual slew of big scores from heavy favorites, one near major upset, and one score that reminded fans statewide that basketball season is less than a month away.

Teams that played host to games Friday went 34-8, although top-seeded Mountain View essentially survived it's game with Milwaukie, winning 3-0. The Cougars improved to 10-0 on the season, but won for the second consecutive game by just three points. Milwaukie, which lost to second-seeded Wilsonville 49-0 two weeks ago, closed out its season at 5-4. Wilsonville beat Bend 41-21 in its first-round game.

Of the home teams that lost, none were seeded lower than fifth, and three were in the Class 3A ranks.

The noteworthy score happened in Oregon City, where the host Pioneers beat visiting Sunset, 75-72, to advance to a second-round game at second-seeded Clackamas, which beat Willamette of Eugene 53-0.

Portland Interscholastic League champion Lincoln broke free from a 7-3 lead at halftime with four touchdowns in the third quarter and held off Lakeridge, 49-38, and Grant beat McMinnville, 47-13, to earn the district two representatives in the second round.



Benson sweats out summer

The schools' athletic program will continue after some worries
By Cliff Pfenning,

PORTLAND - For an athletic program that survived plenty of rumors of being cut entirely this summer, Monday’s opening day of conditioning practices was a welcome relief at Benson High School.

Now, the real sweating begins.

Benson’s fall teams, as with all other programs across the state, began non-contact drills Monday heading into one of the hottest forecasts on record. And, they’re happy to deal with it.

"We were all a little bit nervous about what might happen," senior Tariq Walker said Monday. "I'm glad to be on the field again. I'm not worried about the heat, or the season really. I don't know how many guys we might have come out, or what to expect about winning, so it's just go out and play hard and do the best you can. That's what we can focus on."

Benson's football team is set to play an independent schedule - one outside of the Portland Interscholastic League, as it did a year ago, with the goal of returning to PIL league play. Although the school is classified as 6A as with the other PIL schools, it's schedule is made up primarily of Class 5A schools, and other independent teams - Glencoe of Hillsboro is also playing an independent schedule.

Third-year head coach Devarieous Sly-Clay said he felt confident the Techmen would play this fall, in all varsity sports, based on conversations and testimony from coaches to the district in spring. But, he said he wasn't fully given the green light until early July.

"(The district athletic office) pretty much told us they weren't going to cut athletics this year," Sly-Clay said. "But, they didn't say anything about next year.

"They're doing a lot of data collection to see whether athletics works out here, but they're missing a key point in getting input from the kids. It makes a huge difference to a lot of these kids to have athletics at their school. Hopefully, they'll take that into consideration."

Benson dropped football in 2014 due to low numbers, and is slowly bringing it back in spite of not having any kind of feeder program. The PIL is promoting youth football with posters across the community, but it only represents eight of the nine schools - Benson does not have a youth program.

Benson suited up two dozen players for most of its games last year, including a girl who is on the roster again this year as a receiver. The team expects to add an exchange student from Germany when daily doubles begin Aug. 14

They're coming off what could easily be considered a highly successful season - winning three games.

Senior Tyler Phillips, the team's returning quarterback, said the football team is a significant element to his high school experience, especially since he's been involved in athletics since age 3.

"Sports has been such a huge part of my life, it would be a tremendous letdown if it were taken away," said Phillips, who also plays baseball. "Sports teaches you discipline, respect, so many other things. If helps you sort out your time, like for training, like you would for studying for a class.

"I hope we can have a great season, a great experience and get people excited so there's a team for the freshmen and sophomores to play on next year."

Sly-Clay said he anticipates around two dozen players again to be part of the program in two weeks, and is hopeful a letter being sent out to incoming freshmen might bring in enough players for a freshman team. Benson is in a unique situation in that there is such a demand to attend the school that most students are selected through a lottery system. Having a youth program that got a student into the school through athletics could easily be seen as recruiting.

"Benson is a great school, but it's got more than a few things working against it in terms of athletics," he said. "It would be great if there was some way we could get student-athletes here without it being looked at as recruiting."


Sept. 1     Milwaukie (5A)

Sept. 8     Parkrose (5A)

Sept. 15   At Woodburn (5A - independent)

Sept. 22   Fort Vancouver, Wash., 5:30 p.m. Homecoming

Sept. 29   Rainier (3A)

Oct. 6       Heritage, Wash.

Oct. 12     Glencoe (Independent)

Oct. 20     At The Dalles (5A - Independent)

Oct. 27     At Kings Way Christian, Wash.


State contenders start to emerge

Central Catholic's two-year run atop Class 6A appears in jeopardy
Sept. 12, 2015 /

A return to Mt. Hood Conference play might be just what the doctor ordered for two-time defending Class 6A state champion Central Catholic.

After a season-opening 27-14 loss to arch-rival Jesuit, the Rams lost 66-17 to St. Johns Bosco of California and are 0-2 heading into conference play. Central Catholic plays at Oregon City Friday.

Conference rival Centennial appears as a solid threat to rest the conference title from the Rams. The Eagles are 2-0 having dispatched both Beaverton and Aloha of the Metro League. Centennial and Central Catholic meet in Week 4 of the season.

Jesuit is among the 13 teams that won their opening two games. Sherwood impressed with its dominating wins over Grants Pass and Grant. The Bowmen play Tigard in the start of conference play on Friday.


Rams run to another championship

Central Catholic dominates Tigard 49-0 to capture state football title
Dec. 6, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - Central Catholic completed another run to a state football title with a decisive 49-0 victory over Tigard Saturday afternoon.

Sean Dack ran for 133 yards and a score and passed for 154 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Rams, who finished with 596 yards of total offense.

Ronnie Rust ran for two scores and caught one of the Dack's touchdown passes as the Rams completed a seismic season in which they outscored playoff opponents 285-63.

Their lone loss the past two seasons was to St. John Bosco in Bellflower, California during the second week of the season.

"I knew we were prepared with our offense, and with our defense, but I don't think any of us expected 49-0," Rams coach Steve Pyne said afterward. "This was quite a close to the season.

"The run this team has had the past two seasons, I think we have to be in the conversation as the best team in the state's history."

Tigard finished with 24 yards rushing and 175 total for the game. The Tigers reached the Rams' 2 in the second quarter, but failed on fourth and goal and Central Catholic scored in two plays to break the game open.

With the win, the fall high school season came to a close with Central Catholic having won three team titles: boys cross country, boys soccer and football. The school’s volleyball team placed second.

Central Catholic, Tigard head for final

The Rams thrash Sheldon, while Tigard survives battle with West Salem
Nov. 28, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - The Central Catholic football machine plowed through another contender for its state title Friday, earning the Rams a second-straight appearance in the Class 6A championship game.

In the final, they'll play Tigard, which will be a significant underdog when the teams meet, Dec. 6, at Hillsboro Stadium.

Top-ranked Central Catholic dominated No. 4 Sheldon 65-21, while the second-ranked Tigers beat No. 11 West Salem 17-14, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 1:34 left in the game.

The final will be a rematch of a semifinal game from last season the Rams won 83-49. Tigard beat Central Catholic 43-37 in the 2012 quarterfinals, a week before the Tigers lost to eventual champion Lake Oswego.

Sheldon led 14-7 at the end of the first quater when the game turned dramatically in favor of Central Catholic. The Rams outscored Sheldon 51-0 in the next two quarters, with none of its seven touchdown drives lasting more than 2:31. Junior Ronnie Rust ran for four touchdown in the stretch, while senior Tyson Cooper scored twice and finished with three touchdowns in the game.

Central Catholic finished with 449 yards rushing - 236 by Rust.

Tigard reached the final by driving 63 yards in five plays and just 43 seconds for the decisive score on an 8-yard pass from JT Greenough to Brady McGetrick. 

The Tigers ran for 234 yards, getting 132 from Landon Floyd, and 110 from Sam Inos.

West Salem overcame a 10-0 deficit and went ahead on a thrilling 62-yard run by Keegan Hlad, who started the score with a fumble recovery.

The Titans had a golden opportunity to add to their 14-10 lead when they recovered a fumble on the ensuing Tigard possession at the Tigers' 33 yard line, but were unable to move forwards and gave the ball over on downs. Tigard then drove for the go-ahead score.




Central Catholic finally prevails

After 60 years, the Rams win another football title
Dec. 7, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

PORTLAND - Behind a stellar performance from senior Ryan Nall, Central Catholic wiped out 60 years of frustration and won the Class 6A football state title Saturday, 38-28, over metro rival Jesuit at Jeld-Wen Field.

Nall ran for 197 yards and three touchdowns and had an interception on defense to spark the Crusaders, who last won a title in 1953. Nall's performance matched that of Jesuit junior Chase Morrison, who ran for 217 yards and three scores.

The Rams held the Crusaders, who they beat 45-31 in the fourth week of the season, to just one score in the second half.

Central Catholic finished its season at 14-0, while Jesuit was 11-3.

"This is a great win for our school," said Nall, who is headed for Oregon State University. "We have such a long tradition, and people have been waiting a long time for us to win again. I'm glad we could make it happen this year."

Nall racked up his total on just 11 carries, which included scoring runs of 24, 49 and 90 yards. His 24-yarder gave the Rams a 28-21 lead in the third quarter, but Jesuit responded with a 10-play, 58-yard scoring drive that closed with an 8-yard pass fron Eric Restic for Henry Mondeaux to tie the score.

The Rams then moved ahead with a one-play drive, a 47-yard run by Cameron Scarlett for a 35-28 lead. After Nall's interception, Central Catholic drove to the Jesuit 1 before settling for an 18-yard field goal by Emnmett Dooney.


West Albany scores big in 5A finale

The Bulldogs stiffle Sherwood's explosive offense and win 21-20 in overtime
Nov. 30, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - After diving across the goal line for the tying score in the Class 5A final Saturday night, West Albany senior Jake LaCoste decided not to watch the extra point attempt - the kick that would propel him and fellow seniors into school lore.

"I didn't want to look," he said afterward, "so I just listened."

Senior Matt Wiest sent the kick through the uprights and the second-seeded Bulldogs beat top seed and defending champion Sherwood, 21-20, on a glorious fall evening.

LaCoste ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, and the team defense held Sherwood to its season-low in points on the way to the school's third title in seven years. For the seniors, though, it brought the program back to where it was prior to 2010, when the Bulldogs missed the state playoffs entirely.

Sherwood, which beat West Albany 48-0 in Week 2, lost in the final for the second time in three seasons - having lost to Mountain View of Bend 14-13 in 2011. The previous year, the Bowmen beat Marist 26-23 in overtime in the final. Sherwood beat Marist 46-20 in the final last season.

Both West Albany and Sherood finished 12-1, with the loss to the other school. Both programs will move to Class 6A next year.

Sherwood senior Keegan Lawrence ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a touchdown pass. But he lost a fumble inside the Bulldogs' 10 in the closing moments of the game, which then went to overtime tied at 14-all.

Sherwood scored first in overtime on a 15-yard run by Lawrence, but the extra-point attempt didn't get across the offensive line, which allowed West Albany to jump at the opportunity to end the game with a touchdown and extra point.




Imbler outlasts Lowell with defense

The Panthers get enough second-half stops to win 88-76
Nov. 30, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - Leading 64-62 at halftime, Imbler High football coach Lee Lowe knew the key to victory in the Class 1A championship game was simple: defense.

The Panthers already had recorded a safety and stopped five extra-point conversions, but all that hadn't gotten them more than a two-point cushion.

But, the defense responded, and held Lowell to just two scores in the second half and the Imbler offense scored a season-high on the way to a 88-76 victory in the highest-scoring championship game in OSAA history.

Junior Joe Griffin ran for four touchdowns, caught three more scoring passes and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns to lead the Panthers, who scored their season high and finished 12-1.

Lowell continually overcame its miscues with an offense that generated 789 total yards, including three players running for 186 yards or more. But, the extra-point conversions eventually caught up with the Red Devils, who also finished the season at 12-1.

In only five previous title games had one team scored more than 70 points, and the top score was 76 by Cove in 1983. That game ended as a 76-8 win over Valsetz.



Ridgeview snags first team title

The Ravens rally from 17-0 to beat Cottage Grove 50-31 in Class 4A final
Nov. 30, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - Trailing 17-0 early in the second quarter, the Ridgeview Ravens got the spark they needed on special teams, and used that momentum to win the school's first state title in a team sport in the Class 4A football state title game Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium.

The Ravens got 158 yards and two touchdowns from senior Boomer Fleming, three scoring passes from junior Jacob Johnson and hauled in five interceptions on defense in a 50-31 victory over Cottage Grove.

Junior Tanner Stevens added 114 yards and a touchdown on the ground for No. 4 seed, which opened last year as a second high school in Redmond. The Ravens finished 13-1 overall, with its lone loss at Klamath Union, 14-12, in the second week of the season.

"We were down 17-0 at one point, but after that we won the game 50-14," Ridgeview coach Andy Codding said. "This is the first state football title for Redmond, which has been playing for a long time, but we've only been playing for two years."

Cottage Grove, seeded second, led 31-30 in the third quarter and reached the Ridgeview 2, but a penalty and missed field goal started a disappointing finish that ended with a 99-yard interception return for the game's final points. The Lions finished 11-3, with their other two losses coming in the opening two games.

The Lions did plenty enough to win, racking up 588 yards of total offense and 35 first downs. Senior Brandon Boxberger had 178 yards rushing and senior Scotty Hitner threw for 345 yards and ran for three scores. But, the five interceptions proved to be the difference - all five coming in Ridgeview territory, including one in the end zone with the Ravens leading 38-31 in the fourth quarter.


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