Wilson is revved up for playoffs
Wilson goes into the 4A state football playoffs having made a statement: The Trojans can run and play defense.
Senior Kacy Fairfax ran for 208 yards on 32 carries, and the Trojans returned two interceptions for touchdowns in last week's 25-7 victory over rival Lincoln.
Wilson, 9-0 in the regular season for the second straight year, will open the playoffs against visiting Centennial (6-3) at 7 p.m. Friday. The Trojans will be trying to win a playoff game for the first time since 1994. They lost 28-21 to Jesuit in the first round in 2001 and 27-21 to Pendleton in the opening round last year.
'We have 25 seniors on our team, and most of us have been playing together since the fifth grade,' Fairfax says. 'We're completely ready for the playoffs.
'We've got the chemistry, and we've got the experience from the last two years. We know we've got to play like we can for four quarters and not just leave it for one quarter.'
Last year, the Trojans scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Pendleton but lost in overtime.
First-year coach Dane Iverson also thinks the Trojans are ready.
'It's no secret that in the playoffs you have to be able to run and play defense,' he says. 'We've been focusing on that all season.'
Wilson had to overcome mistakes and a stubborn Lincoln defense to win its final PIL game.
The Trojans committed turnovers on three of their first four possessions, including two inside the Lincoln 20-yard line. And Wilson didn't score an offensive touchdown until the third quarter. But the Trojan defense was solid throughout the game, intercepting four passes of Lincoln quarterback Colin Beeson.
With the game tied 7-7 in the third quarter, senior Travis Arn picked off a Beeson pass in the back of the Wilson end zone. The Trojans promptly marched 80 yards in 10 plays to score, with Fairfax carrying seven times.
After a Lincoln punt, Wilson drove 58 yards for another touchdown. Ten of the Trojans' 11 plays were runs.
'We've had the capability to run well all season,' Fairfax says. 'We showed what kind of power game we have.'
Fairfax credited the Trojan interior line of seniors Joe Zagunis, Luke Fritz, Michael Anderson, Joe Bozikovich and junior Brian McCormack for opening holes. Bozikovich, also one of the state's top defensive linemen, played both ways for the first time in several weeks.
Iverson praised senior fullback Sean Murphy for his unselfish blocking. Murphy has carried the ball just 18 times all season.
'We're a more mature team than we were last year,' Bozikovich says. 'And we're really coming together on defense. We have 11 hats flying to the ball.'
The loss dropped Lincoln (7-2) into the PIL's No. 3 playoff seed. The Cardinals will play at Metro League champion Beaverton (8-1) on Friday. The matchup is similar to last year's. Lincoln opened the playoffs last year at Southern Oregon champion South Medford and played well, losing 13-7.
'We know what it is to be the underdog in a big game,' says Lincoln senior Andrew Colasurdo, who started the season as a receiver but is now the team's top running back because of a rash of injuries. 'We would just as soon get the top teams right away.
'Whether they're ranked No. 1, No. 15 or No. 50, we're going to face them the same way. We want to win.'
Marshall faces Wolverines
Marshall (5-4), which started the season with two straight losses, faces a tough test in the first round Friday when it plays host to Willamette (7-2), the third-place team from the Midwestern League.
Willamette, which has five shutouts, won its first seven games before losing to Marshfield and Sheldon in the last two weeks. Marshall has a chance to win if it can shut down the Wolverines' offense, which has scored just 42 total points in its last four games.
Grant (5-4) rallied from a first-quarter deficit to beat Jefferson 26-6 on Friday and qualified for the state playoffs for the first time in three years. The Generals will play at David Douglas (6-3) in the first round Friday.
David Douglas won the Mount Hood Conference title for the second time in three years when both Barlow and Centennial suffered upsets Friday, eliminating the need for a coin toss to break a three-way tie for first.
Jesuit (7-2) plays host to Newberg (6-3), and Reynolds (5-4) plays at Three Rivers League champion Lakeridge (6-3) in other area games.
By upsetting Lake Oswego Friday, Lakeridge dropped the Lakers, who have been ranked No. 1 in the state for much of the season, into a first-round meeting with Roseburg of the Southern Oregon Conference. If Lake Oswego beats Roseburg, it could meet Midwestern League champion Sheldon in the second round. Lake Oswego lost to Sheldon in the state title game last year.