Woodburn survives battle of fresh faces

Federico wins first game against former teammate now at Jefferson
Aug. 31, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

PORTLAND - The coaching debut for both Nico Federico and Aaron Gipson went down as a memorable one Friday night at Jefferson High.

Federico's Woodburn Bulldogs jumped to a 15-0 lead in the third quater and seemed to have the game in hand having moved within the Jefferson 10-yard line toward another score. But, Gipson's Democrats then responded with a fourth-down stand and 97-yard drive capped by a two-point conversion to breathe excitement into the game early in the fourth quarter, especially when they responded again with another defensive stand that forced a punt.

With glory only 90 yards and another two-pooint conversion away, the Demos gave up a short interception return for a score and Woodburn held on for a 21-14 victory in the opening weekend of high school athletics.

Woodburn got a 27-yard scoring run from Martin Ray, a 38-yard scoring pass from Sergi Yakis to Nate Ellingson and the interception and score from Camilo Guizar to go along with a safety caused by a bad snap on one of just two Jefferson punt attempts.

Jefferson got a pair of scoring passes from quarterback Deven Jackson, one to Jamartae Brown to cap the 97-yard drive, and the other to Haszell West to cap a 78-yard drive with 1:08 left in the game.

Woodburn, after the Demos booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, ran out the clock for the win.

"I've always wanted the be a head coach, and I have great kids on the team," Federico said. "We worked hard and battled, and got the win. It feels good."

Woodburn plays again Sept. 7 at home against Cleveland. Jefferson plays against Grant at Grant Park.

Federico and Gipson both played on defense at the University of Oregon in 2002-03, although Federico as a walk-on. Gipson led the nation in interceptions as a senior in 2005. The two entered Friday's game with significantly different coaching backgrounds, though, as Federico took over the program at Woodburn, where he works, after seven years as an assistant at Cascade High. Gipson had not coached a game at any level prior to Friday's game.

Jefferson struggled as a team under a first-game coach might early on, losing yards on its first two plays, drawing a penalty and firing off a 29-yard punt. Woodburn, with a larger roster that featured many more linemen, drove for a score in six plays with Ray racking up the final yardage on a third down. The Demos responded with Jackson lofting a perfect pass to be intercepted by Ray at safety.

But, the Jefferson defense, inspired by defensive guru John Neal, who has years of experience at Oregon, held firm and forced a punt, a move that showcased the strength of the team and the core of its hopes to win the Portland Interscholastic League title for the fifth time in seven years. The Demos drove to the Woodburn 23, but stalled due to poor snaps and fumbles, which plagued the team throughout the game.

Woodburn drove 65 yards on just four plays with Yakis completing two passes for 64 yards to highlight the action.

After another Jefferson drive stalled, the Bulldogs drove inside the Jefferson 20, but an interception ended that drive.

In the third quarter, Woodburn moved ahead 15-0 when Jefferson's initial drive, which started at its 14, turned into a safety. The Bulldogs punted on their following drive, but recovered a fumble and then moved toward a knockout blow when the Democrats again stiffened and got the ball back.

Jackson, with four completions to the 6-foot-4 Brown, drove Jefferson to its first touchdown under Gipson in 11 plays, two of them fourth-down conversions that led to the deficit being sliced to 15-8 with 7:45 left in the game. Another quick stand got the ball back, but a pair of penalties placed it at the 5.

On first down, Jackson got flushed from the pocket and tossed a soft pass on the run that Guizar easily caught and scored with.

Woodburn took over the ball on the Jefferson 21 after the Demos failed to convert on a fourth down - Gipson eschewing the punt at virtually every opportunity, but the Jefferson defense again held and Jackson drove the team to its second score. But clock management doused any comeback drama.

Throughout the game, the stadium clock regularly failed to stop following dead ball plays, which shortened play by as much an estimated three minutes.