Aloha improves to 3-0 by dominating Gresham in a 20-0 non-league victory
by: MILES VANCE, FAST FRIENDS — Aloha’s Jude Graves (right) celebrates his second-quarter touchdown with teammate Ben Shelton during the Warriors’ 20-0 non-league victory over Gresham on Friday at Aloha High School.

ALOHA - Everybody knew the Metro League was going to be tougher than heck in football this year.

Everybody knew about defending state champ Jesuit and all its horses.

Everybody knew about Southridge and Westview's offensive arsenals. Everybody knew about Beaverton's tradition and everybody knew it would probably just be a matter of time before Sunset got back in the state playoff race.

But what everybody didn't know - with the exception of the Metro League's head coaches themselves - was that Aloha might also play an important role in 2006, and not the role of doormat. Instead, the Warriors are aiming at a slightly more exciting role this year - playoff contender.

Aloha took another important step in that direction Friday when it shut out Gresham 20-0 at Aloha High School to improve to 3-0 in non-league play. The win marked Aloha's first 3-0 start since 1989.

'We're 3-0. We started this from sophomore year and we're going to keep going,' said Aloha senior wide receiver Zak Kokesh, who had five catches for 105 yards, including a 14-yard TD reception with 7 minutes, 22 seconds left in the third quarter.

'Our goal this year is to make the playoffs; that's been our goal since freshman year.'

'That Warrior 'D' is crazy. We're just firing out,' said junior linebacker Travis McCowan, who had five sacks (one assisted) for a total of minus 33 yards and forced a Gopher fumble. 'And we messed up a little bit. We could have done a little more. We can do a lot more.'

As it was, the Warriors did plenty to take out the Gophers (1-1), and a lot of its success came on the defensive side of the football where Aloha held Gresham to just 93 yards in total offense and forced two Gresham turnovers (interceptions by Ben Shelton and Kasey Kroner).

'We're playing awfully good on defense,' said Aloha coach Chris Casey. 'We tackle well. We run well. Guys are aggressive, and the kids are having fun.'

Offensively, the fun didn't start for Aloha until the second quarter. Once there, though, the Warriors got things going with a 41-yard scoring drive highlighted by Eric Whitley's 34-yard completion to Kokesh to the Gresham 1, and on the next play, Mike Shoun's touchdown dive. Thomas Southwick added the first of two PATs to make it 7-0.

Aloha was back in the end zone just five minutes later, taking advantage of another short-field opportunity after pinning the Gophers deep in their end. The Warriors covered 32 yards in eight plays, getting a 16-yard Whitley-to-Kokesh completion along the way and converting two fourth-down tries, including Jude Graves' 3-yard TD run around right end to make it 14-0 with 4 minutes, 8 seconds in the quarter.

The Warriors took their 14-0 lead into halftime, but quickly expanded on it by scoring on the first series of the second half. This time, Aloha drove 76 yards, getting 24 yards from Graves, 25 from Shoun, a 14-yard completion from Whitley to Kokesh, and the touchdown on another 14-yard aerial to Kokesh, who made an over-the-shoulder catch at the left flag for the final 20-0 margin.

'I just beat the guy off the line and I just made the play,' Kokesh said. 'Me and Eric (have) been playing together seven years so we're on the same page.'

'It's nice to get a passing game going with our running too,' said Whitley. 'It makes it a lot easier when defenses have to respect both.'

The Warrior defense certainly earned its respect Friday night. In addition to its shutout, the Warriors only allowed Gresham in its half of the field four times and never allowed the Gophers closer than the 34-yard line.

'Our 'D,' we call it the Warrior 'D,' we haven't played perfect yet, so we can still put up some more numbers on the board,' Kokesh said. 'It's going to be an exciting year for us.'

For the game, Shoun finished with 12 carries for 73 yards, and Graves added 17 carries for 63 yards. Senior tailback Peter DeBois led Gresham with 76 yards on 13 carries, but as a team, the Gophers finished with just 11 yards on 26 tries.

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