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Bowmen start postseason trek with big win

Football: Sherwood will now host Hermiston in a state playoff game Friday
by: DAN BROOD TURNING THE CORNER — Sherwood High  School senior A.J.  Spencer (right) gets to the corner ahead of Benson’s Bryan Adolphson in Friday’s game.

SHERWOOD - Talk about a good omen.

Last year, on its way to winning the Class 5A state championship, the Sherwood High School football team started its postseason trek with a big, impressive win over Benson.

This year, the Bowmen again opened postseason play by taking on Benson. And, this year, Sherwood had an even bigger, more impressive victory over the Techman.

Sherwood, which downed Benson 59-6 a year ago, bested the Techmen 61-0 in a Class 5A play-in game played Friday at Sherwood High School.

'It's definitely good luck for us when Benson comes here,' said Sherwood senior halfback/defensive back A.J. Spencer, who had two interceptions in the win, including one he returned for a touchdown. 'I'm definitely excited for the next four weeks.'

'It's a good sign,' Sherwood senior lineman John Powers said with a smile. 'We knew that they weren't the greatest team, but we always play our hardest.'

With the loss, Benson, the No. 4 team out of the Portland Interscholastic League, finished its season with a final overall record of 2-8.

With the victory, its 23rd straight, Northwest Oregon Conference champion Sherwood, improved to 10-0 on the season.

The Bowmen also advance to the Class 5A state playoffs with the victory. They'll host Hermiston Friday in a state playoff first-round game set to start at 7 p.m. at Sherwood High School.

But, Sherwood insists that it wasn't looking ahead the future state playoff contests as it went into Friday's game with Benson.

'We're definitely excited about the postseason,' said Sherwood fullback/linebacker Travis Dyer, who had three touchdown runs in the victory. 'We take every game like it could be our last.'

'We were on it all night, tonight,' Powers said.

'We know that these games aren't to be taken for granted,' Spencer said. 'A lot is expected of us, and we're ready. The defense played great, the offense played great tonight.'

It was Spencer, and the defense, that got things going for the Bowmen in Friday's game. On Benson's first possession of the game, Spencer intercepted a tipped pass and returned the ball 81 yards for a touchdown that gave Sherwood a 7-0 lead with 8 minutes and 11 seconds left in the first quarter.

'I think that helped a lot,' Spencer said. 'It got the crowd behind us, it gave us momentum and, when something like that happens, it puts fear in the other team.'

'That was huge,' Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence said of Spencer's touchdown. 'That really set the tone.'

On Sherwood's first offensive possession, it looked like Benson had the Bowmen stopped, forcing them to face fourth-and-4 on their own 34-yard line. But Sherwood senior Taylor Bonawitz ran for 16 yards on a fake punt. On the very next play, Dyer sprinted up the middle for a 50-yard touchdown run that upped the lead to 14-0 with 4:41 left in the opening period.

Spencer then intercepted another Benson pass, again on a deflection, to set up senior Connor Munro's 26-yard touchdown run that pushed the lead to 20-0 with 2:43 left in the first quarter.

The Bowmen defense then struck again, as sophomore lineman Jordan Kurahara forced a Benson fumble that senior linebacker Cody Setere recovered on the Techmen 25-yard line. Three plays later, Dyer scored on a 1-yard blast that made the score 26-0 with 1:21 still left in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Sherwood got a 7-yard touchdown run by Dyer and a 62-yard TD scamper by senior Paul Dodson, as the Bowmen upped the margin to 40-0 before halftime.

In the third quarter, Sherwood got a 10-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Dusty Crabtree to senior receiver Chase Krieger and a 10-yard TD run by junior Anthony Sherwood.

And, just how it started the scoring, the Bowmen defense also capped off the scoring as junior Joseph Balfour returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to cap off the 61-0 victory.

'That was real nice,' Lawrence said. 'Beating Benson - maybe this will start it all off just like last year.'

On offense, Sherwood rushed for 314 yards on just 25 carries.

Dodson rushed for 84 yards on three carries and Dyer had 77 yards on five carries, with three of those carries ending up in the end zone.

'That was a good time,' Dyer said. 'All the credit goes to the line.'

'It's all on the line,' Spencer said of the group that includes center Nick Rowlands, guards Joseph Chamberlain and Bryan VanOrman and tackles Zane Groves and Powers among others.

'I think we did a great job tonight,' Powers said. 'It's fun. I love blocking for those guys. I love scoring.'

Spencer added 40 rushing yards on three carries and sophomore Scott Skurdahl had 35 yards on three carries.

Crabtree completed four of 10 pass attempts for 40 yards.

The Sherwood defense limited Benson to 98 yards of offense in the contest.

Junior Alex Barzee and senior Dylan Flannery each had a quarterback sack for the Bowmen and Powers had a pair of tackles for losses. Munro, Dodson, Dyer, senior Danny Rice and Skurdahl each added a tackle for a loss.

For Benson, sophomore quarterback Allan Meza completed eight of 18 passes for 63 yards. Senior Khari-Malik Hanna led the Techmen in rushing with 44 yards on 15 carries.

Hermiston, the No. 2 team out of the Columbia River Conference, brings an overall record of 6-4 into Friday's game at Sherwood.

The winner of Friday's first-round state playoff game will meet either Silverton or Ashland in the quarterfinals.