Aloha will test its mettle next in the playoffs
CEDAR MILL - Six weeks ago, the rest of the state left the Aloha football team for dead.
The Warriors saw five starters - three of them starters on both sides of the ball - knocked from the lineup and began a five-game losing skid that rocked the defending Metro League and Class 6A state champions.
Aloha still has some work to do to right the wrongs of the past month, but the Warriors took an important step in that direction Friday night, knocking off Sunset 24-13 at Sunset High School for their second win in a row.
"We've got a lot of momentum going in (to the playoffs)," said Aloha senior quarterback Cory Sinner, who scored the clinching touchdown on a 5-yard run with 45 seconds left to play on Friday. "We know we're going to have to do it the hard way, but we've got a lot of momentum. The goal is a state championship, so we might as well beat someone good early and go on from there."
"We're back," added junior lineman Brayden Kearsley, who recovered a Sunset fumble in the third quarter for the only turnover of Friday's game. "We had a lot of injuries from that Grant game, but you know what? We came back after those losses and now we're doing pretty good."
The win lifted Aloha's Metro League record to 2-3 (4-5 overall) and a third-place tie with both the Apollos (2-3, 6-3) and Westview (2-3, 2-5).
"We'll do well in the playoffs," said Sunset junior wide receiver/defensive back Ryan Hendry, who had his team's lone touchdown on Friday night. "Except for some plays, that was an even-fought ballgame. It could have gone any way."
"We're planning on improving on defense and on offense both," added junior running back Bruce Jones, who led the Apollos with 35 rushing yards. It's just "not making those mental errors like we did today and improving."
The two teams traded field goals in the first quarter, with Sunset's Michael Metter hitting from 40 yards and Aloha's Lenana Meekisho responding from 35 yards at the end of the period.
Sunset took a 10-3 lead when quarterback Dane Poorman connected with Hendry on a 26-yard TD pass over the middle to Hendry with 4:36 to go in the first half, but Aloha responded immediately.
The Warriors came back with a 69-yard drive to tie the game, capping that series with a 21-yard Thomas Tyner TD run with 50 seconds left in the half.
Neither team scored in the third period, but Kearsley recovered a Reggie Coulter fumble at the end of the quarter, and Tyner scored three plays later, going 37 yards around left end on the first play of the fourth to make it 17-10.
Sunset answered with a 30-yard Metter field goal to cut the gap to 17-13, but after a trade of punts, Aloha put the game on ice with a 59-yard, six-play drive that ended with Sinner's five yard run up the middle with 45 seconds left in the game.
Tyner finished with 216 yards and two TDs on 34 carries. For Sunset, Ian Banks-Clark had three catches for 68 yards.
To see a complete game story and more photos, please see Thursday's edition of the Beaverton Valley Times.