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Hounds run away with league lead

Gaston separates itself from the rest of the pack with a 50-7 league victory over Portland Christian
by: Chase Allgood Gaston running back Kevin Reynolds (15) drags a Portland Christian defender for extra yardage during Friday’s Northwest League football game.

When Gaston's offense and defense are both clicking the way they were on Friday night - well, there's just no stopping the Greyhounds.

Gaston's offense shredded Portland Christian for 580 rushing yards on Friday and the Hounds' stingy defense allowed just one late touchdown in a 50-7 beatdown of the Royals that gave Gaston sole possession of first place in the Northwest League and also bumped the Greyhounds from 13th to sixth in the most recent OSAA Class 2A power rankings.

'We played very well. That was the best game we've played since I've been here,' said second-year Gaston head coach Reeve Woodward.

'Everything clicked for us. We finally played to our potential - that's what we're capable of, and that's the way I always expect us to play.'

Gaston (7-0, 3-0) dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball Friday, churning out yards behind a power running game while also shutting down Portland Christian's aerial attack.

Senior running back Kevin Reynolds led the offensive charge with a career night, rushing 17 times for 337 yards and three touchdowns.

'(Kevin) ran very, very well,' Woodward said. 'Our line was unbelievable on their initial blocks, so Kevin was getting into the secondary on almost every run, and he was making guys miss.'

Reynolds scored on runs of 82, 75 and 15 yards, and he also had a 45-yard scamper and a fumble recovery in the game. Fullback Sam Wismer cracked the century mark for Gaston, rushing for 131 yards and three touchdowns, including scoring runs of 27 and 25 yards. Austin Morey added 77 yards rushing.

So dominant was Gaston's offense on Friday that quarterback David Carr attempted only three passes all game. The senior went 1-for-3 for 20 yards, but did rush for a 10-yard touchdown.

On the other side of the ball, Gaston's defense forced four turnovers and largely held the Royals (4-3, 2-1) in check. Dusty Brown picked off two passes and Morey also had an interception.

'Portland Christian is a decent team. They play more of a passing style, which isn't something we've seen a lot of this year, so it was a good test for us,' Woodward said. 'I thought our defense played exceptionally well.'

The win bumped Gaston into the Top 10 of the OSAA power rankings for the first time this season, but Woodward still expressed some concern that the Hounds could fall by year's end and suffer come playoff time.

'I've had some people tell me that even if we win the next two games we're still probably going to move back down,' he said. 'We'll see what happens.'

The league's top three finishers earn automatic berths to the state playoffs, where the 16 qualifying teams are then re-seeded according to an RPI ranking that heavily factors opponents' winning percentage, a number that has dragged Gaston down all year.

The regular season winds to an end in the next two weeks with a road game against Neah-Kah-Nie this Friday, followed by a home date against Nestucca on Nov. 4.

'I never feel too confident, because it only takes overlooking one opponent for somebody to come in and knock you off your pedestal,' Woodward said. 'The team we have this week is definitely capable of beating us. If we play well, we should win. If we don't, it could be a close game.

'We're not scared of anyone in the state, but we could win or lose to anyone - that's just the type of team we are.'