United they stood strong, divided they fell with a thud.

For the first half against No. 5 Tigard, Aloha played like a team. They challenged each other. The Warriors competed with pride, sacrificed for one another and physically stood up to the tough-minded Tigers. At halftime, Aloha only trailed 21-7 and appeared to have stemmed Tigard’s opening wave of touchdowns and three-and-out stops.

In the second half, however, Aloha played as independents and were in due course beaten down, 56-7 on Friday night.

Warrior wide receiver Maurice McSwain said in the second half Aloha tried to win the game on an individual basis instead of a unit. Rather than keep that cohesiveness that was so effectual in the first half, the Warriors attempted to win the game on their own, got out of position on both sides of the football and were exposed by the truculent Tigers. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior wide receiver Maurice McSwain goes up high for a catch against Tigard in the first quarter of the Warriors loss on Friday.

“We started to beat ourselves,” said McSwain. “We made mistakes like trying to overplay things. We had people trying to get a little individual, trying to make plays that weren’t there sometimes. The second half was individual time. If we play as a team, nobody should be able to beat us. We had penalties and mistakes. We just have to learn because we beat ourselves this game. We’ll be good by the end.”

“56-7, that’s not the Aloha team you’ll see,” said wide receiver/defensive back Richard Belog. “At the end of the day, we’re still Warriors. We still represent Aloha. We have to keep our heads held high and go on from there. I think we played hard. We knew it was going to be tough and physical. Other than that, we have to get our mental reps and prepare.” by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior quarterback Nick Krautscheid and the Warrior offense put up a solid fight against Tigard in the first half.

In the first half, McSwain played like he had an “S” on his chest, and with the help of quarterback Nick Kraustcheid, torched Tigard through the air. Running every pattern in the route tree from up-and-outs to slants to deep posts, the Warrior senior was an utter mismatch in the passing game, particularly against single coverage. Through two quarters, McSwain caught six balls for 88 yards, including a couple of pivotal third-down snags that prolonged a duo of Warrior drives. McSwain’s 30-yard catch-and-scamper in the second quarter set up a three-yard touchdown run by Calvin Davis with 7:36 to go that cut Tigard’s lead to 21-7.

“I just feel like nobody in the state should be able to guard me,” said McSwain. “I tell the quarterback, ‘If I’m one-on-one, look for me,’ and he did for a few times. I just wish it could’ve happened in the second half, but it’s alright.”

Davis, Gavin Molina and Parker Bull ran rugged and with purpose out of the backfield. Bull ripped off a 23-yard jaunt in the second quarter that led to Davis running up the middle for the Warriors’ only TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior running back Calvin Davis lunges for yardage.

“We installed our run game really well,” said Davis. “We started driving it down the field, getting a little momentum. That was a good momentum shifter for us going into the third helped us out.”

For the first two quarters, the Warriors’ defense held up against the Tigers’ combustible running game. They gang tackled any ball carrier that came within an arm’s reach and slowed Tigard’s passing attack to give themselves’ a punchers’ chance of a shocking win.

Dylan Griffin, Jacob Maxwell and Jourdan Dixon each had two tackles. McSwain led the Warriors with five stops from his safety spot.

“We started to pick it up on defense,” said linebacker Michael Saechao.

“Our middle ‘backers stepped up a lot this game, but Tigard was tough to stop. It’s the every day stuff that hurt us. You have to know your assignments, and I guess we were slacking today. We have to comeback from that.” by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha linebacker Jacob Maxwell tackles Tigards Manu Rasmussen in the third quarter of the Warriors loss on Friday.

Yet, when the second half rolled around, a different, hungrier Tiger team turned the game on its ear.

Recognizing McSwain was gifted enough to single-handedly torpedo their second preseason win, Tigard went into the locker room at halftime and devised a gameplan built around slowing the Warriors’ primary weapon.

Subsequently, the Tigers bracketed McSwain with at least two defensive backs and sometimes put a safety over the top of him to prevent the deep ball.

Tigard’s rotating defensive backfield took turns blanketing McSwain who couldn’t shake free from the constant extra attention.

Behind the running of tailback Manu Rasmussen and an increasingly authoritative offensive line, Tigard hurt Aloha with 28 unanswered points in the third to open up a 49-7 advantage

“(Tigard) came out hot and took it from us,” said Davis. “Me and Parker (Bull) both ran hard and did everything we could. Mo caught the ball everywhere, he was great.”

McSwain was effective returning kicks with 112 return yards and nearly took two to the house, but the pass catcher was held without a reception in the second TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha sophomore running back Parker Bull fights for extra yardage in the fourth quarter of the Warriors loss to Tigard on Friday.

What’s more is McSwain started cramping in the second half and couldn’t lend his services to the Warrior defense.

One ill-timed cramp on a kickoff return prevented a sure touchdown in the fourth.

“It was very frustrating,” said McSwain. “I kept getting pulled out on D. I kept cramping, and I felt like I could only make plays on offense.”

The defeat forced the Warriors to carefully examine their priorities. Aloha, like any other football team in the state, isn’t good enough to get away with tide-stemming penalties, five turnovers and only 189 yards of total offense.

“The players, we have to make it happen,” said Belog. “The coaches can’t strap on the pads and say, ‘Hey, let me take it from here.’ We have to perform as a team and a group. Next week we have to step it up. We’re confident we can play to the Aloha level, but it all starts Monday.”

The Warriors are nonetheless positive about their prospects, though they’re certain they all have to play as one or they’ll risk getting steamed again by one of the Metro League’s elite.

“We’re a smaller team, and we definitely have to play together if we want to win,” said Davis. “I definitely believe in us. I think we can do it.”

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