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State football playoffs set to kick off Friday

Tigard will host Sprague and Tualatin will be home to take on Sunset
by: DAN BROOD PLAYOFF POWERS — Tigard seniors Jeremy Moore (left) and Niko Freni open postseason play Friday.

The Tigard and Tualatin high school football teams each enjoyed a successful regular season of action.

But now is the time where things really matter.

And the Tigers and Timberwolves are both ready to go. Tigard and Tualatin will each open postseason play by hosting Class 6A first round state playoff games on Friday.

'Our kids are very excited about the playoffs,' Tigard coach Craig Ruecker said.

The same attitude is prevalent at Tualatin.

'It's playoff time and that's great,' Tualatin coach Rob Hastin said. 'We're excited about that and we're going to try to extend our season as far as we can.'

The Wolves will host Sunset in a first-round clash on Friday while Tigard will be home to face Sprague. Both games are set to start at 7 p.m.

'Sprague is a good team,' Ruecker said. 'They're a league champion and they've been on quite a roll the last five weeks.'

Sprague, the No. 1 team out of the Central Valley Conference, brings a 5-4 record into Friday's game. The Olympians, while experimenting with a spread offense early in the season, dropped three of their first four games. But, after going back to their usual Wing-T attack, they've won four of their past five games.

'It will be a good challenge for us,' Ruecker said. 'Controlling the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense will be an important thing for us.'

Tigard, which won the Pacific Conference championship, brings a spotless 9-0 record into Friday's contest.

Tigard's potent ground attack features a trio of talented, speedy junior running backs. Zach Floyd is the Tigers' leading rusher with 798 yards and 15 touchdowns on 89 carries. Benny Wick has added 775 yards and 10 TDs on 90 carries and Kaz Greene had 706 yards and seven scores on 67 carries.

Senior quarterback Niko Freni has completed 53 of 100 pass attempts for 1,198 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Senior Jeremy Moore, a three-year starter, anchors Tigard's experienced offensive line. He was named both the Pacific Conference Lineman of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year.

Tualatin, on Friday, will face a talented Sunset squad that put together an overall record of 6-3 while finishing third in the Metro League.

'They have a solid defensive team and, on offense, they're good at ball control and they also throw it well,' Hastin said. 'We're going to have to play mistake-free, move the ball and just play well.'

Tualatin, the Pacific Conference runner-up, is 7-2.

Senior Brady Watts has been the main weapon on the ground for the Wolves. He's rushed for 932 yards on 136 carries while having 10 total touchdowns.

Senior quarterback Travis Johnson has been a dual threat for the Wolves. He's completed 68 of 123 pass attempts for 1,027 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's also rushed for 363 yards and four more scores.

Senior receiver Nathan Suyematsu has 26 receptions for 409 yards and four touchdowns.

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Horizon Christian will be making its second-ever appearance in the Class 3A state playoffs. The Hawks will be hosting Coquille Friday in a Class 3A first-round game starting at 7 p.m. at Horizon Christian.

Coquille, the Sunset League champion, is 6-3.

Horizon Christian, the West Valley League runner-up, has an overall record of 7-2. The Hawks ended their regular-season schedule Friday by posting a 38-16 win at Amity.