Football: The game between the two powerhouses will start at noon in Salem
by: JAIME VALDEZ ONE OF MANY — Sherwood senior halfback Paul Dodson (right) is one of a number of weapons for the Bowmen offense.

SALEM - It's probably not going to be anything fancy.

It may fly by in a hurry.

But it should be a battle.

And it very well could be a heck of a game.

There probably won't be very many surprises when Sherwood takes on West Albany in a Class 5A state playoff semifinal football game Friday, starting at noon, at Willamette University's McCullough Stadium.

'It's probably going to be a quick game, but a good game,' Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence said. 'Both teams runs the ball a lot. They're a big, physical team. They run their 10 plays and they run hard. But our kids are looking up to the challenge.'

West Albany, the No. 1 team out of the Mid-Willamette Conference, brings an overall record of 10-2 into Friday's semifinal contest.

The Bulldogs are averaging 291.2 rushing yards a game. West Albany's rushing attack is led by sophomore running back Jake LaCoste (5-foot-10, 180 pounds), who has rushed for 1,927 yards and 21 touchdowns on 240 carries this season.

In a game earlier this season, a 35-21 win over Silverton, LaCoste rushed for 508 yards on 39 carries and five touchdowns.

In West Albany's 28-21 quarterfinal win over Bend last Friday, with LaCoste limited due to a knee injury, Bulldog senior running back Ryker Smith (5-11, 175) ran for 311 yards on 46 carries.

West Albany attempted just one pass in that contest.

For the season, Smith has rushed for 788 yards and seven touchdown s on 127 carries.

'The key for us will be if we can contain their running game and slow them down,' Lawrence said. 'It will be a battle.'

West Albany senior quarterback Branden Myers (6-3, 190) has completed 72 of 125 pass attempts for 1,318 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season. Senior Michael Soot (6-1, 195) is the Bulldogs' leading receiver with 37 catches for 711 yards and nine touchdowns.

Defending state champion Sherwood, the No. 1 team out of the Northwest Oregon Conference, brings a 12-0 record and 25-game winning streak into Friday's semifinal game.

The Bowmen, like West Albany, also boast some impressive offensive numbers.

Sherwood has averages of 47.6 points a game and 333.5 rushing yards a game on the season so far.

Senior halfback Paul Dodson, the NWOC Offensive Player of the Year, leads a balanced Bowmen rushing attack with 810 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 60 carries (a 13.5 yards-a-carry average). Dodson also has three receiving yards.

Sherwood has four other players with at least 400 rushing yards in senior fullback Travis Dyer (685 yards, 11 touchdowns), senior halfback Connor Munro (544 yards, nine touchdowns), senior halfback A.J. Spencer (479 yards, six touchdowns) and senior fullback Cody Setere (462 yards, five touchdowns).

Sherwood senior quarterback Dusty Crabtree has completed 42 of 88 pass attempts for 1,018 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Senior Brandon Blackshear is the Bowmen's top receiver with 10 catches for 204 yards.

Up front, the Bowmen are led by senior tackle Zane Groves, who shared the NWOC Lineman of the Year honors.

'We're going to have to focus on offense and do what we do,' Crabtree said.

'It's the semifinals. We're one step from the finals,' Munro said. 'We're going to have to start studying and we'll have a good week of practice and be ready.'

Spencer and Blackshear, who both missed Sherwood's 14-3 quarterfinal win last Friday due to injury, are both expected to be back in action in Friday's semifinal contest.

Saturday's other Class 5A semifinal, between Marist and Mountain View, will be held at 5 p.m. at McCullough Stadium.

The Class 5A state championship game is scheduled for Dec. 3.

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