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Prep Football update

Cleveland can all but clinch its first football league title in a long time with a victory tonight at Roosevelt.

The school was known as Commerce when it won the PIL championship in 1930 and tied for first with Jefferson and Washington in 1947.

Cleveland is 2-0 in the new Class 5A PIL with Roosevelt (1-0) and Madison (0-1) left to play. The Warriors have beaten league opponents Jefferson and Marshall.

Roosevelt, however, would appear to have the strongest team in the PIL 5A. The Roughriders beat Jefferson 38-17 two weeks ago and gave Grant a scare last week before losing 34-22.

Cleveland blew a 22-7 lead to Jeff last week, then rallied with a fourth-quarter drive to win 30-23. The winning points came on a 17-yard TD pass Andy Johnson threw to Nick Schoepp and a two-point conversion run by Taylor Avritt.

The Democrats drove near the red zone, but sophomore defensive lineman Shaun Palakiko, the PIL heavyweight wrestling champ, forced a fumble, and Cleveland's offense was able to run out the final three minutes.

'It was a good character game for us,' Warrior coach Todd Pasche says.

Roosevelt beat Cleveland 28-7 last year; the series is tied at 21 wins apiece since 1952.

• Grant and Lincoln have one more hurdle to clear before they meet Oct. 27 at Lincoln, with the PIL 6A title almost certain to be on the line.

Benson plays at Lincoln tonight, while Grant is at Wilson.

• KBPS (1450 AM) will broadcast the Benson-Lincoln and Grant-Lincoln games live, as well as the Nov. 3 Benson-Grant game, also at Lincoln.

• Grant assistant coach Aristotle Thompson has been working the sidelines with his left arm in a sling. He ruptured a pec and biceps tendon and had surgery two weeks ago - 'Hurt it lifting weights with a couple of linemen and the guys,' he says.

• Wilson is coming off a 14-10 victory over Benson in which Trevor Beltz carried the ball 23 times for 197 yards, including 90 on the decisive touchdown.

'It's been a roller-coaster year,' says Wilson coach Aaron Olsen, whose team is 1-5, with losses of 49 points to Westview, four points to McNary and Newberg, 21 to South Medford and 42 to Lincoln.

The Trojans are young, with Beltz a junior and four or five sophomores playing significant roles, including quarterback Nathan Osborne, running back Cameron Davis and center Nick O'Donnell. 'We have a lot of first-year juniors off the JV squad, too,' Olsen says.

Another top running back, senior Brody Sherwood, has missed part of the season with an ankle injury, and the Trojans knew they would be rebuilding once senior Joey Mahalic decided not to return at QB.

Mahalic, the ace pitcher who led Wilson to the state baseball title, is concentrating on that sport and just returned from his final recruiting visit, to Southern Cal.

'We'd be a different team with Joey, just because of his athleticism and experience and leadership,' Olsen says. 'In a whirlwind, sometimes those seniors can be a calming force.'