Lakers get defensive with Westview

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego quarterback Duncan White, far right, delivers a touchdown pass to Franklin Forward early in last Friday’s playoff game against Westview. A thick layer of fog, which can be seen in the background, hindered Lake Oswego’s ability to pass later in the game. It hardly mattered, though, as Lake Oswego chalked up a convincing 17-3 victory over the Wildcats. Next up will be a quarterfinal matchup against Grant. The game will be played Friday at 7 p.m. at Lake Oswego District Stadium.

Hampered by a thick cover of fog, Lake Oswego opted for a conservative approach on offense and relied heavily on a stingy defense to earn a 17-3 victory over Westview in the second round of the state 6A football playoffs last Friday.

The Lakers will now meet Grant at home on Friday. It will mark the sixth consecutive year that Lake Oswego has advanced at least as far as the state quarterfinals.

But Lake Oswego coach Steve Coury was worried whether his team would make it to the quarterfinals this year. The Lakers, who were ranked No. 5 in the state in the season's final Associated Press poll, faced possibly their toughest second-round opponent ever in No. 6 Westview.

Coury knew the Lakers' defense would have its hands full with one of the better offenses in the state. But the Lakers got a helping hand from mother nature as a heavy fog cover rolled in just moments before the opening kickoff. With visibility limited to 20 yards or less at times, Westview was forced to drastically scale back its offensive game plan. And Lake Oswego's relentless defense took advantage.

'(Westview) didn't have a chance to do a lot, and that's a very good offensive team. They've got a lot of weapons,' Coury said after the game.

The Lakers held Westview to 155 yards of total offense. It was easily the team's most impressive effort this season against a good offense. But the Lake Oswego offense also had trouble at times and managed just 288 yards for the game.

The Lakers were good on their first drive, though, when they scored all of the points they needed to win the game. The drive chewed up 76 yards and ran more than six minutes off the clock. It ended with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Duncan White to Franklin Forward. On that play, the Westview defense seemed to lose Forward momentarily in the fog.

Lake Oswego had five first downs on that opening drive, which was three more than Westview had for the entire first half. But the Lakers didn't exactly blow the Wildcats away in that half. After the opening score, Lake Oswego had three posssessions that went nowhere. In fact, two of those possessions ended with interceptions by White.

No one was blaming White, though.

'We look to him every single game, no matter what,' running back Will Darkins said of his quarterback. 'He delivered (with a victory) and that's what's important.'

After sputtering for a while, the Lake Oswego offense got back in gear late in the half with a drive that made it to the Westview 9 following a 15-yard reception by Brent Robinson. But that's where the drive stopped and Pat Barry was called on to kick a 27-yard field goal, which gave the Lakers a 10-0 lead. The kick, which appeared to disappear into a wall of fog and glanced off the right upright but managed to fall through for three points.

The Wildcats got those three points back when Austyn Cole kicked a 20-yard field on the first series of the third quarter. Lake Oswego then pushed its lead to 17-3 when Darkins scored on a 44-yard run around the right end on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Darkins came into the game nursing a sore knee, which he sprained two weeks ago in the regular season finale against Lakeridge. Against the Wildcats, Darkins estimated he was playing at 85 to 90 percent of his normal capacity but he still managed to run for 136 yards on 26 carries. For the season, Darkins now has 1,284 yards and 17 touchdowns.

'He's a little dinged, but this time of year (Darkins) is such a warrior,' Coury said of his star running back. 'He just gives it up every single play.'

Darkins also doubles as a linebacker and was recently named the Three Rivers League's defensive player of the year. He and fellow linebacker Adam Garside each had a sack on Westview's first possession of the fourth quarter. The Wildcats got the ball back one more time in that period, but they were unable to move past their own 20 and turned the ball back over on downs.

'I knew our defense was going to be incredible,' Darkins said afterward. 'We studied film so much during the week and memorized what they were doing … we were totally ready. You look at the scoreboard and it shows.'

During the regular season, the Wildcats were most productive through the air, but they had trouble with the elements and the Lake Oswego defense last Friday. Westview quarterback Josh Hill was limited to 6 of 13 passing for 61 yards. The team's leading rusher was Kaale Papas, who had 59 yards on 13 carries.

The Lakers scaled back their passing attack as well as White, ranked among the state's leaders in passing, completed just 8 of 18 passes for 113 yards.

The two offenses certainly could have been more productive, but Coury saw the game more as a classic defensive struggle.

'It was a great high school game with two good teams. A good team got beat and a good team went on,' the coach said.

'I'm glad it's us (that advanced),' Coury added.