Sheldon's fast start paves the way for its quarterfinal victory at Southridge

BEAVERTON — The Southridge football team had cleared every obstacle in its path this year.

The addition of a new head coach and revamped coaching staff, a remade offensive line, the off-again, on-again play of senior quarterback Reza Aleaziz, not to mention Jesuit, Aloha and two state playoff foes.

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - AT THE END - Southridge senior Matthew McRae and Kevin McClean console each other at the end of their team's 62-27 loss to Sheldon in the Class 6A state quarterfinals at Southridge High School on Friday night.

But on Friday, the challenge was just too great.

The Metro League-champion Skyhawks, hosting Southern Oregon Conference champ Sheldon on Friday night, saw the Irish blast out of the gates with a 20-0 first-quarter edge and got no closer than 13 points the rest of the way in their 62-27 loss at Southridge High School in the quarterfinals of the Class 6A state JONATHAN HOUSE - ON THE MOVE - Southridge senior Justin Calo heads upfield during his team's Class 6A state quarterfinal loss to Sheldon at Southridge High School on Friday night.

“They’re a very good football team,” said Southridge coach Doug Dean. “I don’t think we played our best football, but I don’t know that if we had, it would have made a difference. They’re very, very good.”

The fifth-ranked and unbeaten Irish improved to 12-0 and advanced to meet Jesuit in the Class 6A state semifinals at 4 p.m. Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field. The fourth-ranked Skyhawks, who won their first outright Metro championship this year, closed the 2012 campaign with an 8-4 record.

Sheldon hit the ground running — and passing — on Friday night, scoring three unanswered touchdowns in the first quarter to grab a commanding early lead. The first of those came on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Alie to Mike Ralston, the second on a 35-yard Alie-to-Mitchell Herbert pass, and the third on a 15-yard Alie run that boosted the Irish lead to 20-0.

The Skyhawks, led by Devin Martinez’s 16 carries for 179 yards, tried to rally in the second quarter and cranked out three scores of their own, but just couldn’t get enough stops to close in on Sheldon.

Aleaziz got his team on the scoreboard with a two-yard run early in the second quarter, senior running back Jake Pruit added a one-yard touchdown run later in the period, and Aleaziz connected with senior wide receiver Kevin McClean before the half on a 34-yard scoring strike.

As great as all that was, the Irish matched Southridge point-for-point in the period, starting with a 13-yard TD pass from Alie to Connor Strahm, then adding a 15-yard Strahm scoring run, and finally getting a one-yard Mitchell Lewis run to take their lead to 41-21 at the half.

Sheldon then threw a shutout in the third quarter, boosted its edge to 48-21 on a nine-yard throw from Alie to Strahm, then closed out the game with a 14-6 edge in the fourth quarter to leave the Skyhawks far behind. Pruit scored his team’s final TD on a 45-yard run in the final quarter.

“They have good receivers and one of the best quarterbacks we’ve seen,” Dean said.

As painful as Friday’s loss was, it could not steal the luster from what could only be termed an exceptional season.

“In terms of the level of success our kids had this year, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that,” Dean said. “It’s hard to take a step back because we were all kind of stung, but when you took a look at all the success we had, it made us feel a little better about it.”

More than that, the Skyhawks reveled in the team atmosphere, the camaraderie and the togetherness that led a team with six sophomore starters to the heights of the state playoffs.

“Our three foundational words for the year were ‘brotherhood,’ ‘ excellence’ and ‘loyalty,’” Dean said. “We were all grateful for the closeness we had this year. The kids really bought into it.”

For the game, Pruit added 99 yards on 16 carries, while Aleaziz went 4-of-16 for 58 yards, with McClean catching two passes for 49 yards.

For Sheldon, Alie rushed 13 times for 108 yards, and also completed 24-of-30 passes for 345 yards, 13 of those to Strahm for 153 yards and three to Herbert for 78 yards.

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