The time has come
Here we go: Lincoln and Grant battle for the PIL 6A title
The game of the year?
Ha, it's way more than that.
'It could be the best city championship game that's ever been played,' Lincoln coach Chad Carlson says of Friday night's showdown with Grant.
It could be said that Grant and Lincoln haven't had this significant a meeting since, oh, the 1860s. But seriously, it's just a high school football game, right?
'Every game so far, we've had Grant in the back of our minds,' Lincoln quarterback Connor Kavanaugh says.
'We've all been waiting for this one,' Grant QB Andre Broadous says.
Both teams are 7-0 and boast highly talented quarterbacks, powerful offenses, speed and sound defenses. They might be the two best prep teams from the Portland Interscholastic League in a long time -but only one can be the PIL 6A champion.
Lincoln scored a touchdown on a fake punt to win last year 17-14, and Grant has been reloading, revamping and thinking about the rematch ever since.
'I think we have a group of guys who have definitely grown from their experience last year,' Grant coach Diallo Lewis says.
Lincoln went on to reach the state finals last year, losing 14-10 to Jesuit.
Even though Kavanaugh is now a senior, the Cardinals have a truckload of receivers and the team beat Tigard, Southridge, Tualatin and North Medford in an impressive preseason, it's not clear how they measure up to that magical 2005 squad.
'I still don't think we've answered all the questions, like on who we are and who we want to be,' Carlson says.
Grant, more of a power running team last season, still has that aspect to its offense but is spreading the field, throwing the ball to its own corps of speedy wideouts and backs. When all else fails - and sometimes by design - Broadous simply tucks the ball under his right arm, takes off and usually outruns the defense for a huge gain.
'We're way more explosive than last year,' Broadous says. 'A lot of it is because of the speed workouts we've been doing. And the coach is starting to let me change or make calls at the line of scrimmage. That opens things up and gives me a little more freedom. And we're using the shotgun now, which we didn't do last year.'
Carlson has noticed the changes.
'It's two similar offenses - the sets are almost identical now,' he says. 'One quarterback (Broadous) just runs more, and one (Kavanaugh) passes more. Broadous is a double threat. His arm is extremely accurate, there's great velocity on his throws, and he can get out of jams.'
Grant is averaging 44.1 points per game, Lincoln 40.7. The Generals have allowed 17.7, the Cards 11.4.
'Grant's obviously at the top of their game,' Carlson says. 'They're playing as well, if not better, than us.'
Lewis says the Cardinals look good, too.
'They have speed, athleticism, the returning offensive player of the year (Kavanaugh), Ethan Johnson on the defensive line, and they're two-time defending PIL champions,' he says. 'They're loaded.'
• The two teams did not meet in 2004. Both went 7-0 to share the PIL title.
nA sellout crowd of 5,000, with standing-room only in both end zones, is expected. Get your tickets early, at either school.
•'This game could really make or break our season,' Kavanaugh says.
That's because the loser probably will have to face the Metro League champion - probably defending state champion Jesuit or Westview - in the 16-team, second round of the state playoffs.
• Broadous is 62 of 120 passing (51.7 percent) for 1,389 yards, with 19 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also has rushed 74 times for 662 yards and 12 TDs.
Kavanaugh, who went to Moscow, Idaho, over the weekend to watch Idaho play Boise State (Idaho is recruiting him) is 136 of 205 (66.3 percent) for 2,469 yards, with 27 TDs and three interceptions. He has rushed 36 times for 151 yards and four touchdowns and is a dangerous scrambler who can buy time or pick up first downs on the run.
• One of Lincoln's top receivers, Elvis Akpla, sprained an ankle Friday against Benson. 'If he can't go, we've got other guys who can pick up the slack,' Carlson says.
• Grant hopes to return some linemen from injury, including offensive tackle Matti Maki, and two-way lineman Marcus Dyer 'will be back' from a disciplinary absence, Lewis says.
• Grant leads the series 48-20-3. … Kickoff is at 7 p.m. … KBPS (1450 AM) will carry the game live.