It's Showdown Time
- Dan Brood
- The Times - Sports
Tigard hosts Tualatin and Sherwood travels to Wilsonville on Friday
Two big games.
Two league championships very likely on the line. Four impressive teams.
One very huge night of high school football.
Rivalries and showdowns will take center stage on Friday as Tigard will host Tualatin and Sherwood travels to Wilsonville in crucial league games.
'It should be a lot of fun,' Tualatin coach Rob Hastin said of Friday's Pacific Conference game that will start at 7 p.m. at Tigard High School. 'Both teams are playing very well. It should be big for both schools.'
The Tigers and Timberwolves are currently tied for the lead in the Pacific Conference standings, both with perfect 3-0 league marks.
It will be a similar situation at Wilsonville High School on Friday. Sherwood, the defending Class 5A state champion, is tied with the Wildcats atop the Northwest Oregon Conference standings, both at 3-0.
'This very well could be for the league title,' Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence said. 'We're trying to hype this up and get the rivalry going again.'
Meanwhile, the Tigard-Tualatin rivalry already seems to be at a fever pitch - and it could reach new heights in Friday's clash at Tigard.
'It will be a great game - it's the game of the year,' Tigard senior fullback Nolan Friesen said following the Tigers' 49-13 win at Forest Grove last Friday.
'It's a big game,' Tigard senior lineman Isaac Schimmels said. 'It's going to be important to everyone. And no matter the outcome, it's going to be a heck of a game.'
'It's the biggest game of the year so far,' Tualatin senior running back/safety Brady Watts said earlier this week.
'We're definitely looking forward to it,' Tualatin senior receiver Nathan Suyematsu said. 'It's our senior year and our last game against Tigard. It's going to be real exciting.'
Tigard, which holds down the No. 1 spot in the OSAA Class 6A RPI rankings, brings a spotless 5-0 overall record into the contest.
'Tigard has a lot of weapons,' Hastin said.
That certainly looks to be true, as Tigard is scoring at a 48.8 points-a-game average.
Tigard has especially been strong on the ground. Running behind a powerful offensive line that includes seniors Jeremy Moore, Jarrad Schulte and Schimmels, among others, the Tigers have rushed for an average of 313.4 yards a game.
Junior Kaz Greene is Tigard's leading rusher on the season with 507 yards and six touchdowns on 42 carries. Junior Benny Wick has rushed for 502 yards on 62 carries with eight touchdowns. Junior Zach Floyd has 380 yards and seven touchdowns on 40 carries.
Senior Niko Freni and junior Sam Stelk, who split time at quarterback for the Tigers, have combined to complete 36 of 79 pass attempts for 727 yards and nine touchdowns.
'Their offense and our defense should be the big match-up,' Watts said.
And the Timberwolves' defense has been impressive.
Tualatin, which is 4-1 on the season, has given up just 24 points total (a 4.8 average) on the season. The Wolves have surrendered just seven points in their three league wins.
Meanwhile, Watts leads the Tualatin rushing attack. He has a team-best 520 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 75 carries.
Tualatin senior quarterback Travis Johnson had completed 40 of 71 pass attempts for 512 yards and five TDs.
Suyematsu has been a multi-threat for the Wolves. As a receiver, he had 16 catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He also has a fumble return for a touchdown on defense. He's kicked six field goals and 19 extra points, giving him a total of 55 points scored on the season.
'Tualatin has a very good team,' Tigard coach Craig Ruecker said. 'And we're OK. It should be a great game between two teams playing good football. We have a lot of respect from them.'
'Tigard is very efficient on offense, so we're going to have to play great team defense,' Hastin said. 'And we're going to have to be consistent on offense.'
And, as usually is the case in Tigard-Tualatin game, there is always the unexpected.
'Crazy things can happen at the beginning,' Greene said. 'Whoever can withstand that should have a good chance. We're definitely looking forward to this game. It will be a lot of fun.'
'They're our rivals,' said Tigard senior receiver/defensive back Brandon Wick, who has three touchdown catches and four interceptions on the season. 'It will be a big game. It's been that way for the past three years, and nothing is changing this year.'
'There are big league title implications,' Watts said. 'And our first goal for the season is to win the league title.'
There are also big Northwest Oregon Conference title implications in the game that starts at 7 p.m. at Wilsonville.
'There's a lot on the line,' Lawrence said. 'And, against Wilsonville, we're always ready.'
Sherwood, which is 5-0 on the season, brings an 18-game winning streak into Friday's game. The Bowmen are scoring at an average of 45.2 points a game this year.
Wilsonville, which is 4-1 on the season, has been even more proficient on offense, averaging 47.6 points a game.
'They have some good weapons,' Lawrence said. 'Their main receiver (Jayden Cooper) has a lot of speed. And they have a good running back (Ryan Walsh). We just need to take care of the ball, have sustained drives and keep the ball out of their hands.'
There is even a third key game in the area Friday night, as Horizon Christian will host Dayton in a West Valley League clash starting at 7 p.m.