Hawks made their play against a stacked deck

Saturday's game takes nothing away from the Skyhawks' stellar run
by: JAIME VALDEZ, QUITE A RIDE — Southridge took its fans on an unprecedented thrill ride through the 2006 state playoffs, a ride that didn’t stop until it reached the state championship game. Here, senior running back Kevin Coleman, the team’s leading rusher in the state finale, runs away from the Jesuit defense on Saturday.

We all know now the story of what happened in Saturday's first-ever Class 6A state championship football game at Autzen Stadium.

Jesuit rumbled into the game with an uncontested No. 1 ranking, a 25-game winning streak and a burning desire to establish its place among Oregon's all-time great teams.

And the Crusaders walked out with perhaps all of their goals achieved at the end of their dominating 56-7 victory over Metro League rival Southridge.

But Southridge left neither empty-handed nor embarrassed nor sorry about their performance. Not by a long shot.

Sure, the Skyhawks wish they'd played better. They undoubtedly believe they could have made the game more competitive than the final score indicated.

But does that last game, however unfortunate the final score, take anything away from the Skyhawks' amazing postseason run?

This, folks, is what we in the business call a rhetorical question and the answer is a resounding and obvious 'No.'

The 2006 version of the Skyhawks has set a standard that will measure excellence among future Southridge teams for years to come.

Just consider some of the team's momentous accomplishments this year:

The Skyhawks won second-round, quarterfinal and semifinal games for the first time in school history. They tied the school record for wins (9) and earned the first football championship game appearance in school history.

And they did all that after finishing third in the Metro League and overcoming a ton of adversity and challenges. Just consider that Southridge entered the championship game without one of its two starting quarterbacks (sophomore Kellen Mastrud broke four bones in his foot during the Skyhawks' semifinal victory over Lake Oswego) and with one of its two starting running backs (David Smith) severely limited due to a broken bone in his left hand, also suffered in the win over LO.

They also had to overcome the challenges that came with switching quarterbacks at the end of Southridge's 5-4 regular season. That move, which brought Mastrud into the lineup in place of senior Tom Farinacci, resulted in three straight playoff wins and a semifinal match-up against Lake Oswego at PGE Park.

And when Mastrud left that contest before the end of the first quarter, Farinacci was there to pick up the pieces and direct four scoring drives in his team's 27-7 victory.

So while rest of the state considered whether the Crusaders' lofty successes made them the best team in Oregon history, the Skyhawks quietly, proudly and assuredly walked off as the best team in Southridge history.