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Ready for the challenge

The Skyhawks know they'll have to be their best to beat top-ranked Jesuit on Saturday
by: JAIME VALDEZ, TOM FARINACCI

EUGENE - The 2006 Southridge football team has already accomplished more than any other in school history.

This year's Southridge crew earned the second playoff berth in the school's nine years.

The unranked Skyhawks (9-4), the third seed from the Metro League, won a second-round game for the first time ever. They appeared in, and won, a quarterfinal for the first time ever. They also appeared in, and won, a semifinal for the first time ever and tied the school record for wins with nine.

Now, they face their biggest challenge, meeting top-ranked Metro champion Jesuit (12-0) in the first Class 6A state championship game at 5 p.m. Saturday at Autzen Stadium.

While Jesuit carries the role of favorite into Saturday's game, the Skyhawks say they're ready to come out with all guns blazing and see what happens.

'We're going to come out like we never have before,' said Southridge senior wide receiver Marcus Mathews. 'We're going to be so fired up to avenge our loss. We're going to come out and show them.'

'I can't wait to go against those guys again,' said senior running back Kevin Coleman. 'We'll play them tough. I'm looking forward to playing them.'

Southridge knows, however, that to compete against Jesuit will take their best effort and maybe even a good break or two. In their previous meeting this year, the Crusaders knocked off the Skyhawks 38-0 in the final week of the Metro League season.

But the Skyhawks also know that they're the last team to defeat Jesuit - they beat the Crusaders in both teams' 2005 season opener - and believe they'll play better than they did on Nov. 2. In that game, Jesuit grabbed an imposing 24-0 halftime lead and won 38-0 behind Paul Weatheroy's 214 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

'We all feel we didn't play our best game last time,' said senior fullback Paul Werhane. 'We're going to go out and play tough and see what happens. We always believed from day one that we could play with anybody.'

'It's going to take a perfect game,' said senior wide receiver Tyler Harman. 'No turnovers. It's going to take a perfect game. But we're going to give it our all and see if we can win a championship.'

'I think on our best day, we can compete with anybody and we've just got to go out and prove it,' said senior quarterback Tom Farinacci. 'We're just going to go out and have fun and, hopefully, win.'

And if they're successful, they have a chance to pull off one of the biggest title-game upsets in state history.

'This is a win-win situation,' Mathews said. 'If we win state, we're the freakin' state champions. If we lose, we had a great season. We can't complain about anything.'