Sheldon held high-powered Grant to 257 yards and two plays of more than 25 yards last week. Now the 12-0 Irish must face another potent offense, as 10-2 Central Catholic rolls into Saturday's Class 6A semifinals on a nine-game winning streak.
The Sheldon-Central Catholic game is 4 p.m. Saturday, as the nightcap of a double-header at Jeld-Wen Field. The noon game is Jesuit (9-3) against Lake Oswego (12-0), as the Crusaders compete in the semis for the seventh time in the past eight years. Lake Oswego beat host Jesuit 49-21 on Sept. 23.
High school football has become more explosive, with offenses more diverse and skilled, and Sheldon and Central Catholic are two prime examples. The Rams are averaging 41 points per game; Sheldon is averaging 48, and the Irish beat visiting Grant 49-7 last week.
'A great team with weapons on both sides of the ball,' Central Catholic sophomore quarterback Aidan Wilder says, of Sheldon. 'What I notice most from watching film is their execution. Every guy is on the same page.'
And the Rams' output could be higher -even a lot higher -coach Steve Pyne says.
'I showed the kids a stat: We've given up 1,002 yards in penalties this season and have 28 turnovers versus 26 takeaways,' Pyne says. 'We have left 168 points on the field because of our mistakes. I told the kids they haven't played their perfect game yet. We've got to protect the football, and clean up that and the turnovers if we're going to capitalize.'
The Rams made errors against Oregon City last week, including a trio of third-quarter turnovers that helped fuel a Pioneers rally, but advanced via their strong start and finish. Central Catholic prevailed 55-33 at the downtown Portland stadium, and earned its first trip to the football semis since 1953.
'The victory felt good, and it also made a statementthat hasn't been done in 50 years,' senior running back Hayward Demison says. 'It was a proud moment for our team. There was a lot of intensity throughout the game.'
The Rams won state titles in 1952 and '53, beating Benson 7-6 and Grants Pass 14-13, both at Multnomah Stadium, now Jeld-Wen Field. This year, their losses came early in the season to Jesuit 14-12 and Lake Oswego 49-28.
Sheldon's victories include a 52-37 decision over Jesuit.
'It's an opportunity to play a very good team and see where we stack up,' Pyne says.
How do the Rams plan to match up with the Irish and earn a spot in the Dec. 10 (1 p.m.) title game at Jeld-Wen?
'By eliminating the penalties and mistakes, andcontrolling the ball,' Demison says. 'Not allowing any setbacks. Just continuing to fight at the point of attack. Battling adversity. And using that six inches -the brain. We can't let the mental part beat us.
'We'll prepare in every aspect, working hard at practice and allowing no room for error.'
Adds Wilder: 'I have no doubt that our coaching staff will come up with a game plan that will set us up for the 'W.' We have the athletes to carry out the tasks given to us, and if we do so, we will be playing in the championship game.'
The season began Wednesday for some teams, and a full slate of preseason games start Friday.
In Friday boys games, Southridge plays at Lincoln, Hood River Valley is at Wilson, Century visits Cleveland, Sandy goes to Franklin, Jefferson is at Parkrose, Centennial is at Roosevelt, Grant opens a two-day tournament at home with Madison, Clackamas and Barlow, and South Salem is at Central Catholic
Boys play continues Tuesday with Grant at Madison, Tualatin at Lincoln, Cleveland at Putnam, Franklin at Gresham, Wilson at Dallas, Astoria at Roosevelt, and Milwaukie at Central Catholic.
Friday's girls schedule has Tualatin at Jefferson, Franklin at Sandy, Parkrose at Benson, Madison at Silverton, Roosevelt at St. Helens, Grant beginning a two-day tournament at West Linn, Cleveland at a two-day tourney at Century, and St. Mary's Academy-Oregon City at Portland State.
Central Catholic's girls play today through Saturday at the Nike Northwest Invitational in Issaquah, Wash.
The Tuesday girls schedule: Grant at Wilsonville, Lincoln at Canby, Parkrose at Jefferson, Lakeridge at Wilson, Putnam at Cleveland, Barlow at Franklin, Benson at McKay, Roosevelt at Astoria, Westview at St, Mary's and Central Catholic at Tigard.
On Wednesday, Lincoln's girls play at Clackamas, and Reynolds' girls visit Madison.