Sherwood earns its second straight trip to the Class 5A state title game with its 61-28 win over West Albany
by: DAN BROOD UPLIFTING EXPERIENCE — Sherwood senior Paul Dodson (22) is hoisted up by teammate John Powers following his 12-yard TD run in Friday’s semifinal win.

SALEM - The Bowmen were on a mission.

And they weren't going to let anything stand in their way.

West Albany tried to stop them. The Bulldogs tried hard.

But the Sherwood football team wasn't about to show much mercy to any obstacle that stood in its path as it looked to get back to the state title game.

'We just wanted to crush them,' Sherwood senior Paul Dodson said.

And crush them, they did.

Sherwood advanced to the Class 5A state championship game for the second straight year by running to a 61-28 win over West Albany in a state playoff semifinal game played Friday at McCullough Stadium.

'This is really big for us to go to the championship game for the second time in a row,' said Dodson, who rushed for 165 yards and four touchdowns in the semifinal victory. 'We were fired up and really executed our offense. We didn't want this to be a close game.'

'Two years in a row,' Sherwood senior fullback/linebacker Travis Dyer said with a smile. 'We came out, set the tempo, played hard and now we've got another week.'

West Albany, the No. 1 team out of the Mid-Willamette Conference, finished its season with a final record of 10-3.

Sherwood, the Northwest Oregon Conference champion, improved to 13-0 with the victory, giving the Bowmen a 26-game winning streak. Sherwood will now put that winning streak on the line when it faces Mountain View of Bend (a 31-14 semifinal winner over Marist on Friday) in the Class 5A state championship game, which will be played Saturday, starting at 5:30 p.m., at Hillsboro Stadium.

Sherwood should be familiar with Mountain View. The Bowmen bested the Cougars last year in the semifinals on their way to winning the state title. The teams also met earlier this season, with Sherwood scoring a 41-18 win in a game played Sept. 16 at Sherwood High School. But the Bowmen say they aren't going to take anything for granted as they look to win their second straight state title.

'We want to repeat. That's been our goal all season,' said Sherwood senior Brandon Blackshear, who had both an interception and a touchdown catch in the semifinal win over West Albany. 'For us seniors, it's been our goal since we were freshmen. Everything we've done will culminate next week.'

And the Bowmen weren't about to let West Albany stand in their way of a chance to repeat as state champions.

'We had a great week of preparation,' said Sherwood senior quarterback Dusty Crabtree, who had a pair of touchdown passes in the win. 'They were tough, and we respected them, but we just went out and played our game.'

And, in Friday's semifinal contest, Sherwood's game was to strike fast and strike often.

The Bowmen grabbed a quick 7-0 lead when Dodson scored on a 50-yard run with 7 minutes and 42 seconds left to play in the first quarter.

West Albany tied the game at 7-7 when sophomore running back Jake LaCoste reached the end zone on a 58-yard run with 1:35 left to play in the opening quarter. The period ended with the teams still tied at 7-7, but the Bowmen took charge in a huge way in the second quarter.

A 29-yard pass from Crabtree to senior Connor Munro set up another touchdown run by Dodson, this one coming on a 22-yard run on a sweep to the left side of the field, which gave Sherwood a 13-7 lead with 10:40 left in the second quarter.

On their next possession, the Bowmen quickly moved 69 yards in six plays, capping the drive with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Crabtree to Munro, who was wide open in the middle of the field after running a post pattern from the left side.

Senior fullback Cody Setere added the two-point conversion run to give Sherwood a 21-7 lead with 6:37 remaining in the period.

The Bowmen then piled up points in a hurry in the final minutes of the quarter. First, Dodson scored on a 12-yard run to push the lead to 28-7 with 2:06 left before halftime.

On the very next play from scrimmage, Sherwood senior safety Andrew Gough intercepted a Cody Lahoda pass and sprinted 32 yards untouched down the left sideline to push the margin to 35-7 with 1:54 left in the half.

It didn't take the Bowmen long to strike again. On the ensuing West Albany possession, Sherwood senior Danny Rice scooped up a Bulldog fumble and returned the ball 12 yards to the West Albany 17-yard line. On the very next play, Crabtree connected with Blackshear over the middle on a touchdown pass play that made the score 42-7 with 52 seconds left before halftime - marking the Bowmen's third touchdown in a span of 1:14.

West Albany got a 7-yard TD pass from Lahoda to senior Michael Soot with 26 seconds left in the second quarter, cutting Sherwood's lead to 41-14 at halftime.

West Albany then got a 58-yard touchdown pass from Lahoda to junior receiver Brendon Breslin to open the third quarter, making the score 41-21. But Sherwood made sure West Albany wouldn't get any closer.

The Bowmen answered back in a big way with a 17-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off with an 8-yard TD run by Dodson, upping the lead to 47-21 with 2:47 left in the third quarter.

Sherwood then got a 1-yard touchdown run by sophomore Keegan Lawrence and a 42-yard scoring run by junior Jack Matney in the fourth quarter as the Bowmen wrapped up the 61-28 victory.

'This was great. It was huge for us,' Sherwood senior linebacker Dylan Flannery said. 'We were fired-up and ready to go today. We knew we had to get up early. This was a lot of fun - we love playing football.'

'We got momentum and kept chugging along,' Sherwood senior lineman Zane Groves said. 'We feel unstoppable.'

The Bowmen rushed for 399 yards on 56 carries in the win while having 498 yards of total offense.

Dodson got his game-high 161 yards on 12 carries and, of course, there's his four touchdown runs.

'Honestly, you have to give the linemen all the credit for that,' he said. 'John Powers, Bryan VanOrman, Zane Groves, everyone did a great job. I trust them a lot.'

'Paul had a great day running the ball,' Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence said. 'He's been dynamite.'

Dyer added 69 yards on 15 carries and Matney rushed for 62 yards on four carries.

Crabtree completed five of seven pass attempts for 99 yards and a pair of scores.

'Dusty played a great game,' Lawrence said. 'They were giving us the backside post and we took advantage of that. Dusty threw some great passes.'

'When I turned and saw those guys wide open, I just said 'yes,'' Crabtree said with a smile.

Munro had two receptions for 54 yards.

Flannery led the defensive attack with two quarterback sacks and another tackle for a loss.

'The defensive line did a great job,' he said. 'If they get down, I can just fly to the back. We had a great time out there.'

Sherwood junior linebacker Jacob Brooks had a quarterback sack and a forced fumble, which was recovered by senior Ryan McDermott.

For West Albany, LaCoste rushed for 62 yards on three carries. Lahoda completed eight of 15 passes for 167 yards. Breslin had four catches for 108 yards.

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