Grant football coach Gary Thorson and a number of his underclass players were in the stands Friday night as the Class 4A semifinals were played at PGE Park.
They're already looking forward to next season after having won the school's first state playoff game since 1979. Not only that, but the Generals could look at Tigard reaching the state final as something of a positive sign for the Portland Interscholastic League because the Tigers needed overtime to beat PIL champion Wilson in the second round of the playoffs.
'I think we're making some strides as a league,' said Thorson, who has led the Grant program for three years. 'We think we made a big stride, Lincoln is a solid program and Wilson's effort shows what the top of our league can do. We're very excited about next year.'
Grant returns tailback Richard Hollis, who ran for 1,155 yards and 12 touchdowns while splitting time with senior Aaron Dickson, the league's leading rusher. Also back will be Ndamukong Suh, a -6-5 tackle who plays on the basketball team and is attracting major college attention as a recruit.
Thorson was an assistant at Tualatin Ñ Tigard's main rival Ñ before moving to Grant. He's been working to improve the program's commitment to winning, especially during the offseason.
That includes, at times, getting families to take their vacations before the start of fall camp in mid-August. Thorson pointed that out to his team in the week before the season started when at least one player was gone on a Friday because of a family vacation.
'I came from a program where that just didn't happen,' Thorson said. 'Those families have that kind of commitment,' he said of programs that get to the state semifinals. 'We're getting there, but it's been some work.'
Tigard is in the state final for the second time. The Tigers tied Roseburg in the 1990 final.
The annual David Douglas baseball hitting clinic, scheduled for Dec. 13-14 in the high school gym, features former major league players. There are two sessions, one in the morning for seventh-graders through seniors, and one in the afternoon for grades 3 through 6. Cost is $65. For information, call 503-261-8325.