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Apollos score six touchdowns in the first half, cruise to easy Metro League victory over Warriors

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset senior quarterback Coleman Newsom threw for five touchdowns against Aloha.

After each touchdown, Sunset football public address announcer Brent Buell blasts The Fratellis' "Chelsea Dagger", a contagious, rollicking Scottish chant that fills the stadium and lathers up the student section before the subsequent kickoff.

It's the Apollos' unofficial team anthem — a festive fixture at every Sunset home game. If Cedar Mill's surrounding residents didn't know any better, they might have assumed lead man John Fratelli was center stage encoring his band's biggest hit over and over at midfield the way the Apollos floored it into fifth gear on Friday night at Sunset High.

Scoring touchdowns on its first six possessions of the first half by playing a brilliant 24 minutes of complementary football, Sunset stormed to a 42-0 halftime lead over Aloha and cruised to a 49-16 win for its third straight league triumph.

"It felt great to have everything roll smoothly — it felt like our offense should be," Sunset senior quarterback Coleman Newsom said. "We had really good practices this week and the offense clicking was a testament to that. It was just really good execution all around — great job by the offensive line and the wide receivers and a great gameplan and play calling by the coaches."

"When we had our starters in, it wasn't fair," Sunset senior offensive lineman Tyler Ganoung said. "We'd go in for a play and score a touchdown. Nobody was really tired in the first half. When we start to roll, there's nobody that can stop us. We have so many weapons. If they try to lock on one, we have another on the other side."

Sunset's first touchdown on a short swing pass from Newsom to Gabe Leonard in the left flat. Newsom had all the time he needed to make the throw. There wasn't a Warrior defender anywhere near Leonard. With nothing but green turf in front of him, the senior back did the rest, bursting away from the Warrior defense down the left sideline for a 76-yard touchdown with 5:28 to go in the first quarter.

And it was pretty much that easy the entire night for the Apollo offense.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior wide receiver Ismael Garcia gallops into the open field versus Sunset.

Five of Sunset's six first-half touchdowns came in the second quarter alone in a dominant display of reciprocal, three-pronged pigskin with the Apollo offense, defense and special teams feeding off each other's energy.

Trailing 14-0, Aloha tried a fake punt from its own 17, but the deep down-the-middle of the field pass fell incomplete. Three plays later, Leonard scampered around the left side of the Apollo offensive line into the end zone for another score to make it 21-0 with just over 10 minutes to go. After a three-and-out by the Apollo defense, Newsom and Nick Niedermeyer linked up on a beautifully thrown ball down the right sideline for a 25-yard score to extend Sunset's lead to 28-0. The efforts of Sunset's defense — playing physical and smart, forcing quick stops — set up short fields for its offense, which went for the jugular early and often.

"All week we were thinking about having that killer instinct and we just wanted to go out and score every single time we have the ball," Leonard said. "We started out a little bit slow, but in the second quarter we opened it up and everything was clicking for us. It was just smooth sailing from there."

Following Niedermeyer's score, Sunset senior safety Cole Fontaine read Aloha quarterback Timmy Dennis' eyes, ranged to his right, skied along the right sideline and picked off the pass around midfield. And, as was the case for the entire first half, Sunset's "Ricky Bobby" attack exploited the mistake, turning the takeaway into an immediate 55-yard catch-and-run touchdown jaunt by Jadon Folmer who was untouched on his way to pay dirt 35-0. Stop, score, stop, score. It was simple, yet ruthless football at its finest — the type Sunset head coach Damien Merrick and offensive coordinator Dominic Ferraro prefer.

"Our tempo offense is made for that rolling pace, so when our defense gets a turnover, it's just a huge boost," Ganoung said. "We just say 'We're gonna score again and we're gonna see how many points we can get'. If we get a score, the defense gets hyped up. If the defense stops (the opponent), we get hyped up. It goes back and forth all night."

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset senior offensive lineman Tyler Ganoung and the Apollos celebrate Sunset senior wide Jadon Folmar's touchdown.

Aloha, struggling with penalties and miscues, wanted to get into the locker room and regroup, down 35-0 just before halftime. Yet, as Dennis tried to get off a punt from inside Apollo territory, Sunset junior Marve Nyembo broke through the Warriors' line and blocked the football to set up the already humming Apollo offense with great field position. And, to culminate an already clinically efficient first half, Newsom hit Niedermeyer for a 19-yard score with four seconds left in the half that pushed the lead into running clock territory at 42-0.

Ganoung said Aloha stacked its 4-3 defense in an effort to take away the run and refused to abandon the scheme, which set up Newsom, Leonard, Niedermeyer and Nick Cizik up with juicy one-on-one matchups in the slot or on the outside. Both of Niedermeyer's touchdowns came when the junior was split out on the opposite side of a trips bunch formation. The junior able to break down his defensive back at the line of scrimmage mano y mano and get behind him with his speed.

"Our wide receivers are better athletes than (Aloha's) DB's, so that's what we really capitalized on, airing it out and letting our receivers go get (the ball)," Ganoung said. "The pass (protection) up front was solid. I think (Newsom) had a solid five seconds to throw the ball. He didn't get sacked once today. Our execution as a team was awesome."

Never one to back out of a fight, Aloha stuck around and staved off the automatic running clock in the second half thanks to a handful of accurate throws from Dennis, a number of nifty Sir Charles Mitchell runs and a pair of Gage Holman tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Mitchell scored two touchdowns in the second half, one on a 30-yard gallop in the third quarter and the other on a two-yard power run. The past two weeks have been particularly tough on the Warriors, but Mitchell is a maven with the ball in his hands, a freshman who plays with incessant passion and juice no matter what the score says. And Dennis, despite still clearly being hobbled with an ankle injury, still stayed tough in the pocket and spun the ball nicely downfield.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset senior running back Jadon Folmar skates to the end zone against Aloha.

Yet, the Warriors shot themselves in the foot too often, especially in the first half. A potential Warrior safety on the first drive of the game was taken off the board for an illegal shift penalty. And later, a slick Ismael Garcia 25-yard touchdown run was wiped away due to a holding infraction that moved the ball back 10 yards.

The slips, coupled with Sunset's rush of scores, were simply insurmountable for Aloha.

Newsom showed a complete command of the Apollo passing game, putting short and intermediate throws on the numbers and deep balls through small windows that the Warrior defensive backs could do little about. In the rare moments where Newsom was pressured, the senior used his athletic ability to escape the pocket but still found his receivers downfield, as he did in connecting with Cizik in the back of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Otherwise, the tall righty was able to sift through his reads, let his skill guys create space on the outside and deliver dimes thanks to Ganoung, Isaac Lovings, Sam Carlson, Hayden Bean and the rest of the Sunset offensive line that gave their quarterback plenty of time to set up shop in the pocket. Newsom didn't siphon the sugar to just one receiver, either. Eight different pass catchers hauled in an offering on Friday night. And when Newsom exited in the second half, Callan Craig came in and doled a 38-yard highlight reel touchdown heave to Alex Dillon. Newsom finished the game with five touchdowns to four different receivers.

"It's such a luxury to be able to trust every single receiver on the field," Newsom. "It's nice not having to worry about picking favorites because every single guy I throw to is really good."

At 3-2 overall and 3-0 in Metro, Sunset has found its footing after dropping both non-league games against Skyview (WA) and Sheldon — two teams in the upper echelon of their respective classifications. Sunset begins its annual four-game stretch against the Beaverton area's traditional powers: at Southridge next week, followed by a home showdown with Westview and subsequent road games against Jesuit and Beaverton. Through five contests, Sunset has lived up to the hype as one of the top two teams in Metro. Now, the Apollos get the chance to prove themselves against the league's flagship programs and rise up the 6A ranks.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset senior running back Gabe Leonard takes off for a 76-yard touchdown against Aloha.

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