Southridge beats Aloha 27-6 to improve to 2-0 in '06 Metro competition
by: JONATHAN HOUSE, GOTCHA — Aloha's Ben Shelton tries to get through a hole in the defense of Southridge as Skyhawk Ian Bjorklund wraps him up.

BEAVERTON - Southridge figured its Metro League matchup against an Aloha team built around a ferocious defense would be a tough task.

The Skyhawks simply were tougher.

Southridge (4-2, 2-0 Metro) got physical, handling a stout Aloha defense and churning out yards on the ground in a 27-6 victory Friday night at Southridge High School. The Skyhawks rushed for 325 yards and got a very efficient game out of quarterback Tom Farinacci, who was 9 of 11 for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

'We knew Aloha was a very good team: fast, big and strong,' said Farinacci, who also ran for a touchdown. 'Our line was doing a great job. That's how we could be successful.'

Southridge's offensive line did the dirty work in the trenches, consistently pushing the Warriors backward and opening up holes. The Skyhawks stable of backs did the rest, running hard all night and wearing out Aloha (4-2, 0-2) in the second half with 249 rushing yards.

'We really control the game well when we run the ball,' said Southridge running back Kevin Coleman, who had a team-high 90 yards on 11 carries - all in the second half. 'We knew they'd be tough. We were ready for it.'

Southridge pounded its way to 20 unanswered points after halftime to break open what had been an evenly played first half. The Skyhawks set the tone with a 67-yard drive to start the second half, keeping it on the ground all nine plays. Senior Paul Werhane got the wheels spinning with a 15-yard gain on a trap play.

Farinacci, who ran for 69 yards, cut an option run inside for 14 yards to take Southridge to the Aloha 21. Coleman did the rest, breaking through arm tackles on a 15-yard run then punching it in on the next play when he ran off left tackle and hurdled into the end zone from a yard out.

Mitchell Edwards' extra point gave Southridge a 14-6 lead with 8:33 left in the third quarter.

'That was huge for us,' Coleman said of the touchdown drive. 'It really set the tone.'

The Skyhawks stuck with the ground game and it resulted in another scoring drive in which Coleman ran five straight times for 41 yards. Southridge switched gears to cap the drive when Farinacci got flushed out of the pocket then fired into the end zone where senior receiver Marcus Mathews made a tough catch in traffic for a 13-yard touchdown two minutes into the fourth quarter.

Mathews, who also caught a 35-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter, hung on at the front of the end zone despite being immediately hit and spun to the ground.

The Skyhawks closed the scoring on its next possession. Coleman's 23-yard burst took Southridge to the Aloha 7. Two plays later, Farinacci's option run started going the wrong way before he cut through a seam for a 6-yard touchdown scamper with 6:12 remaining.

'They just flat physically beat us,' Aloha coach Chris Casey said. 'We tackled poorly tonight. Maybe that was more them than us. They gained a lot of positive yards after contact.'

Southridge's physical play wasn't limited to the offense, though, as Aloha managed just 44 second-half yards against a hard-hitting Skyhawks' defense. The Apollos ran for 0 yards on six carries, completed just 2 of 10 passes and picked up a mere two first downs after halftime.

'They were pretty physical with us tonight,' Aloha quarterback Eric Whitley said. 'They controlled the line of scrimmage.'

Southridge opened the scoring early in the second quarter with a six-play, 79-yard drive in which Farinacci was 3-of-3 for 64 yards. He started the march with a short pass in the right flat to senior receiver Justin Smith, who picked up 19 yards. Four plays later, Farinacci found Mathews along the Aloha sideline for a 10-yard gain.

On the next play, Mathews caught a wide receiver screen, cut inside then burst to an opening on the outside and streaked 35 yards for the touchdown. Edwards' extra point gave Southridge a 7-0 lead.

Aloha responded on its next drive, which went 73 yards on 10 plays. The Warriors completed a key third-and-12 when senior receiver Nate Martin made a leaping catch for a 14-yard pickup. Two plays later, Mike Shoun ran a sweep around the left corner and down the Southridge sideline for 35 yards. That set up Whitley's 9-yard touchdown strike to junior receiver Kasey Kroner on third-and-5.

But Aloha missed the extra point and Southridge maintained a 7-6 lead with 5:01 left in the half.

The Warriors moved across midfield again on its next drive with some trickery. Whitley pitched to running back Ben Shelton who handed off to Zak Kokesh. The senior receiver fired downfield to an open AJ Stephenson for a big 36-yard gain to the Southridge 37. But Kellen Mastrud intercepted Whitley at the Skyhawks' 25 on the next play.

'It's a long season,' Whitley said. 'We just need to get over the hump. This doesn't change our goals. We worked too hard in the offseason.'

Things don't get any easier for Aloha (4-2, 0-2 Metro), which hosts top-ranked Jesuit (6-0, 2-0) next Friday. The Skyhawks also have a tough task ahead of them as No. 4 Westview (6-0, 2-0) travels to No. 9 Southridge.

'The kids maybe played their most complete game of the year from an offensive, defensive and special teams standpoint,' Southridge coach Brad Mastrud said. 'I'm pleased with the direction we're going and hopeful we can keep up the level of intensity as we move into the Westview game week.'

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