Tigard's three-headed rushing attack up next in 6A state quarterfinals
BEAVERTON - The challenge has never been greater and the stakes have never been higher for the 2011 Jesuit football team.
The Crusaders, Metro League co-champions and 8-3 overall, welcome Pacific Conference champion Tigard to Jesuit High School at 7 p.m. Friday for the Class 6A state quarterfinals. And in typical playoff fashion, it's win or go home time.
Jesuit enters the game as the state's fourth-ranked team, while unbeaten Tigard - the Tigers enter at 11-0 - are ranked fifth.
'It's fun stuff. They're undefeated. They play hard, they play fast, and we know that,' said junior tailback AJ Glass, who leads Jesuit with 1,888 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns on 280 carries. 'We've just got to go out and play hard and give it all our heart.'
'They're a great football team. They're undefeated on the season,' said Jesuit senior center Dom Mori, part of a Jesuit line that helps the Crusaders average almost 350 rushing yards per game. 'It will take a great week of practice this week.'
While Jesuit's offense is built around rushing - 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 - its defense is built to stop it.
The Crusader defense - led by end Christian Martinek and tackle Doug Brenner up front, linebackers Joseph Ducharme and Joey Alfieri, and Rothstein and Drew DeMarco in the back - allows just 95 yards per game, and their efforts help Jesuit hold opponents to less than 23 points per game.
It's been even better than that over the past two months too, limiting opponents to just more than 14 points per game since the start of Metro League play.
'We've just got to come off hard, every play,' Martinek said. 'We just have to practice hard in practice, then come out hard in the game.'
They'll need that and more to combat the talented Tigers, who average 50 points per game and rush for 310 yards every week. The Tiger running attack is led by Zach Floyd's 1,054 yards and 19 TDs, Benny Wick's 983 yards and 14 scores, and another 904 yards and 10 TDs by Kaz Greene.
Neither team passes much, with Rothstein going 37-for-78 for 661 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions, and Tigard QB Niko Freni at 65-for-117 for 1,362 yards and 17 TDs with five interceptions.
Senior Adam Winterling is, by far, Jesuit's biggest receiving threat with 28 catches for 540 yards and eight scores. Senior Brandon Wick sets the pace for the Tigers with 17 catches for 540 yards and seven scores.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tigard allows about 140 yards per game on the ground and another 140 through the air, its success led there by linemen Isaac Schimmels and Jarrad Schulte, linebackers Benny Wick and Chance Taylor, and Brandon Wick at defensive back.
Whatever the case, it looks like Friday's quarterfinal ought to be a battle. The winner will advance to the Class 6A state semifinals to face the victor of the Lake Oswego-Roseburg contest.
'It's always fun to play on home turf against good teams,' Glass said. 'We're excited for (this) week. We'll practice hard and keep the intensity.'