Tigard wins 55-7 during the night the team honored Breast Cancer Awareness Month
by: Ralph Greene HE’S GOT IT — Tigard senior receiver Brandon Wick (left) is about to pull in a pass during the Tigers’ 55-7 win over Hillsboro on Friday.

It was a special night for the Tigard High School football team.

For more than one reason.

First, the Tigers wrapped up a perfect regular season, as well as sole possession of the Pacific Conference championship, by running to a 55-7 win over Hillsboro in a regular-season finale played Friday at Tigard High School.

In addition, the Tigers, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, held a Pink Night at the stadium, complete with special uniforms that drew rave reviews.

'It was a very special night,' Tigard coach Craig Ruecker said. 'It was so great to see our young men realize that there are bigger and more important things than themselves and how they honored Breast Cancer Awareness.'

Such a night has been an annual event at Tigard since Ruecker and his coaching staff arrived in 2009.

The summer of that year, then-Tigard assistant coach Jay Butz' wife, Stephanie, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

'It really hit us directly,' Ruecker said. 'It hit our football family.'

Tigard held its inaugural Pink Night in 2009 and then again last year.

But things reached a new level in 2011.

'This year, with our success, coupled with our young people recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness, things got even bigger,' Ruecker said. 'Then Nike approached us six weeks ago, wanting to provide us with new uniforms and shoes for the event. It was a fantastic night.'

The Tigers made it even more so, with their performance in the game.

'We talked about how they could honor the cause by going out and playing good football,' Ruecker said.

Tigard improved to 7-0 in Pacific Conference play while finishing the regular season at 9-0, marking the Tigers' first outright league championship since 2004, when Tigard went 8-0 to win the Pacific-9 Conference crown.

'It was our kids who did all of that,' Ruecker said. 'I'm very proud of our young men.'

In Friday's game with the Spartans, the Tigers got off to a blazing start as, on just the second play from scrimmage, Tigard senior quarterback Niko Freni hooked up with junior receiver Chance Taylor on a 67-yard touchdown pass play.

The long TD gave the Tigers a 6-0 lead just 18 seconds into the contest.

Tigard added on a 1-yard TD run by junior Benny Wick with 6:17 left in the first quarter and a 69-yard touchdown run by junior Zach Floyd with 2:29 left in the period to up the lead to 20-0.

Freni tossed two more touchdown passes in the second quarter to give him three TD tosses before halftime.

First, he threw a 10-yard scoring pass to senior receiver Brandon Wick to make the score 27-0 with 9:50 left in the first half. Then Freni threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Jake Biglow with 4:24 left in the quarter, giving Tigard a 34-0 lead, which it took to halftime.

In the third quarter, Taylor had a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown, upping the margin to 41-0 with 9:53 left in the period. Floyd added a 49-yard touchdown run with 6:26 remaining in the quarter to up the margin to 48-0.

Sophomore Manu Rasmussen capped off the Tigers' scoring for the night with a 16-yard touchdown run coming with 9:56 left to play.

The Spartans got on the scoreboard when Chance Tsukamoto scored on a 40-yard run with 5:16 left to play, making the final 55-7.

Tigard rolled up 477 yards of total offense in the win, gaining 276 on the ground and 201 through the air.

Floyd led the ground attack, gaining 130 yards on four carries. Benny Wick had 59 yards on five carries and Rasmussen had 55 yards on five carries.

Freni completed seven of 11 pass attempts for 188 yards and three touchdowns. Brandon Wick had two receptions for 46 yards.

The Tigard defense limited Hillsboro to just four passing yards and to just 190 total yards.

Tigard will next play on Nov. 11 when it hosts a Class 6A state playoff first-round game.

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