by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Southridge head coach Doug Dean and the Skyhawks got the better of Jesuit last season in a memorable 26-21 triumph. The two teams square off this year on Oct. 11

October 11th could be a huge, make that, monumental day in the race for the Metro League Championship.

Early indications suggest the winner of Jesuit-Southridge showdown on that mid-October evening will seize the Metro crown and roll to the 6A playoffs as the league’s number one seed.

It’s alleged all roads to a league crown could through either Southridge (the two-time defending Metro champ with loads of returners and all-league stars) or Jesuit who sports a speedy, bristly, broad-shouldered defense with Division One talent in every area.

However, anyone who’s clued into the regularly ruthless Metro League knows it’s not that cut-and-dry.

Surely, the Jesuit-Southridge clash will hold pivotal importance in the Metro chase. The Skyhawks boast 13 players who started at least one game back on offense and an additional 10 on defense. Wide receiver Jordan Morgan-an University of Arizona commit- is one of the best playmakers in the state and has a battle-tested quarterback in A.J. Woodin throwing the rock to him. Southridge returns four of their five starting offensive linemen from last year as well all-league running backs Devin Martinez and Jacob Pruit.

Jesuit has an embarrassment of riches on defense with the likes of defensive ends Christian Martinek (an Oregon State commit) and Henry Mondeaux (more than 12 D1 offers) as well as middle linebacker Joey Alifieri (a Stanford commit).

The Crusaders also have explosive playmakers in Trent Werner and Chase Morrison on offense in addition to a rebuilt offensive line.

“My pick right now would be Jesuit. They’re the big dog on the block,” said Southridge head coach Doug Dean. “They’re going to be a team to be reckoned with.”

But, waiting in the wings behind the supposed big dogs are four teams pining both for respect and a chance to topple the Metro blue bloods. The top three teams in the Metro receives a first round bye in the 6A playoffs.

“Jesuit is always one of the top teams and Southridge is pretty loaded coming back,” said head coach Bob Boyer. “After that, any of the other four Metro teams can take that third spot.”

“There’s not a big discrepancy between the two but it’s nice to say someone other than Jesuit,” laughed Sunset head coach Faustin Riley. “Southridge probably gets the nod,” said Sunset coach Faustin Riley. “They’re just very deep with a lot of kids who played at the highest level.”

Aloha begins the post-Thomas Tyner era with a new coach in Bill Volk and seven returning starters. Senior wide receiver/defensive back Maurice McSwain could give Morgan a run as the Metro’s most dangerous playmaking threat. There’s seasoned talent flanking McSwain, too, with all-league defensive back/wide receiver Calvin Davis, wide receiver/defensive back Richard Belog and senior quarterback Krautschield all back as seniors.

Sunset has a two-way stud in tight end/defensive end Josh Brown and junior quarterback Willy Pflug who made marked improvements during the summer. The Apollos’ offensive line has a pair of starters back in the mix with Mark Iguidbashian and Alex Betancourt. Sunset’s wide-ranging array of offensive formations and arrangements keep opponents out of sorts and on their heels.

Beaverton owns a solid defense that’s paced by all-league 6’3” defensive back Bryce Barker and three solid linebackers in Grant Johnson, Anthony Battaro and Kiuna Talalemotu. Each of the linebackers started as junior. Barker-a junior this year-will play both wide receiver and quarterback.

Westview is trying work their way up the Metro standings by pushing the pace with a hurry-up, no-huddle offense. The Wildcats have a handful of starters on both sides of the ball back in the mix.

So, while the on-paper favorites for Metro honors go to the Skyhawks and Crusaders, there’s plenty of football to be played, plenty of story lines to look forward to as the season commences.

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