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Crusader challenge is up next for Tigard

Football: The state quarterfinal game will be played Friday night at Jesuit
by: DAN BROOD TIGER TD — Tigard junior running back Zach Floyd (left) celebrates with senior quarterback Niko Freni after scoring a touchdown in the win over Southridge. The Tigers will play at Jesuit in Friday's quarterfinals.

BEAVERTON - The Tigers' holiday plans may have to be altered a bit.

But they're OK with that.

In fact, they're absolutely thrilled with it.

Members of the Tigard High School football team will gladly put their Thanksgiving plans to the side for awhile today (Thursday) in lieu of practice as the Tigers get ready for this Friday's Class 6A state playoff quarterfinal showdown with Jesuit.

'We get to come to practice on Thanksgiving,' Tigard junior running back Benny Wick said with a smile following the Tigers' 48-17 win over Southridge. 'We're definitely excited about that.'

The Tigers will be practicing today, as they get ready to face the Crusaders Friday in a state playoff quarterfinal game set to start at 7 p.m. at Jesuit.

Jesuit, which shared the Metro League title, brings an overall record of 8-3 into Friday's contest.

'Jesuit always has a very good football team,' Tigard coach Craig Ruecker said. 'But every team still playing at this level is very good. Jesuit has contrasting groups of players. On offense, they're as big as any college football team. They have an outstanding offensive line and a very good tailback. On defense, they have more regular-sized players and better speed. They're an outstanding team.'

On offense, the Jesuit averages nearly 350 rushing yards a game. Junior tailback A.J. Glass leads the Crusaders with 1,888 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns on 280 carries. Senior quarterback Nicholas Rothstein adds 918 yards and 13 TDs on 112 carries, while senior back Morgan Sellers has collected 691 yards and nine touchdowns

In the passing game, Rothstein has completed 37 of 78 attempts for 661 yards and eight TDs with eight interceptions. Senior Adam Winterling is Jesuit's top receiving threat with 28 catches for 540 yards and eight scores.

Meanwhile, the Jesuit defense allows averages of 95 rushing yards and less than 23 points a game.

But the Crusader defense could find itself facing quite a challenge in a Tigard offense that averages50 points a 310 rushing yards a contest.

The Tigers get their rushing yards from a number of different players. Junior Zach Floyd leads the balanced rushing attack with 1,054 yards and 19 TDs. Wick had 983 yards and 14 scores and junior Kaz Greene has added another 904 yards and 10 touchdowns.

They all get to work behind an outstanding offensive line that includes seniors Jeremy Moore, Jarrad Schulte and Isaac Schimmels and juniors Matt Franz and Ethan Lange.

Tigard senior quarterback Niko Freni has completed 65 of 117 pass attempts for 1,362 yards and 17 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Senior Brandon Wick is the Tigers' top receiver with 17 receptions for 540 yards and seven scores.

The Tigard defense, led by Moore, the Pacific Conference Defensive Player of the Year, allows about 140 yards a game on the ground and about another 140 through the air.

'We just have to worry about us,' Schimmels said. 'And not concern ourselves about the other team.'

'We need to focus and come out and do what we need to do,' Benny Wick said.