Tigard's success-filled 2011 season comes to a close with a loss to the Crusaders
BEAVERTON - The Tigers battled.
They fought, they clawed and they just kept on battling.
However, despite the effort, the Tigard High School football team saw its season come to and.
But what a season it was.
The Tigers saw their captivating 2011 season come to a close with a 35-7 loss to Jesuit in a Class 6A state playoff quarterfinal game played Friday at Jesuit High School.
'It was a magical season,' Tigard senior quarterback Niko Freni said following Friday's game. 'We had a close team. We bonded as brothers and had such a great run. We have a ton of memories. And, as much as it hurts now, I'm proud of all of our players.'
Jesuit, the Metro League co-champion, improved to 9-3 on the season with the victory. The Crusaders also advance to play in the semifinal round of the Class 6A state playoffs. They'll meet Lake Oswego Saturday in a semifinal game set to start at noon at Portland's Jeld-Wen Field.
'They're a great team,' Tigard junior running back/linebacker Benny Wick said of the Crusaders. 'They're so fast. They met me at the line.'
'They play hard and we tip our hats to them,' Freni said. 'They're a great team and I wish them luck.'
Tigard, the Pacific Conference champion, finished its season with a final overall record of 11-1.
'It was surreal,' Tigard senior receiver Sean McGetrick said of the Tigers' season. 'It was amazing. No one predicted that we'd do this. It was great. And we went undefeated in league - that's something to be proud of. I'm really proud of all of us.'
Early, very early, in Friday's quarterfinal game, the Tigers found themselves in an unfamiliar situation - that of having to play from behind.
On the first play from scrimmage in the contest, Jesuit senior quarterback Nick Rothstein connected with senior receiver Adam Winterling for a 73-yard touchdown on a play-action pass play. The score put Jesuit ahead 7-0 just 15 seconds into the contest, marking the first time Tigard has trailed in a game all season.
The Tigers, after getting a 40-yard return by junior Kaz Greene on the ensuing kickoff, tried to answer back right away. Tigard, behind the running of Wick and junior Zach Floyd, moved the ball down to the Jesuit 30-yard line before turning over the ball on downs at that point.
The Crusaders then quickly struck again. A 56-yard run by junior running back A.J. Glass set up Robert Strys' 14-yard TD run around right end, upping the home team's lead to 14-0 with 8:07 left in the first quarter.
Tigard again tried to answer back. A 43-yard run by Floyd put the ball at the Jesuit 26-yard line. A run by Wick moved the ball to the 12, but, from there, a holding call pushed the Tigers back. Tigard ended up having to settle for a 41-yard field goal attempt by senior Travis Hale. The kick, while having plenty of distance and height, drifted just wide to the left, leaving the Crusaders with their 14-0 advantage.
Jesuit then pushed its lead to 21-0 when senior running back Morgan Sellers scored on an 88-yard run with 6:55 left in the second quarter.
But Tigard was able to battle back and get on the scoreboard before halftime. Floyd set up the Tiger score by recovering a Crusader fumble at the Jesuit 21-yard line. After an unsportsman-like penalty on Jesuit moved the ball to the 10-yard line, Freni threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Conner Olson on a quick-hitter over the middle. Hale added the extra-point kick to cut the lead to 21-7 with 1:04 left in the period.
Tigard junior defensive back Anthony Consolo made a leaping interception with 20 seconds left in the half to help keep the margin at 14 going into the intermission.
The Tigers then came out on fire to start the third quarter. After taking the second-half kickoff, they methodically began to march down the field. A pass from Freni to McGetrick, runs of eight, five and six yards by Wick and a 25-yard run by Floyd helped move the ball to the Jesuit 22-yard line.
Wick had a 4-yard run on a fourth-and-2 play down to the Jesuit 10-yard line. From there, the Tigers moved the ball on three runs to the Jesuit 1-yard line, where they faced fourth-and-inches. But, on fourth down, Floyd, running out of the wildcat formation, was stopped for no gain.
Jesuit, now with momentum on its side, marched 99 yards in 11 plays, capping off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by Sellers to up the lead to 28-7 with 1:04 left in the third quarter.
Another Sellers touchdown run, following a Jesuit fumble recovery, upped the margin to 35-7 with 11:37 remaining in the game.
But the Tigers kept fighting.
In their final possession of the game, they moved the ball 59 yards in 18 plays before turning the ball over on downs at the Jesuit 10-yard line.
'We weren't going to give up,' Wick said. 'Even with it being our last game, we kept our heads up.'
'It was one of those nights,' Freni said. 'We didn't finish our drives well, but we played hard and we never gave up.'
'We came out flat,' McGetrick said. 'But we definitely didn't give up. Our motto is 'believe' and that's what we did right to the end.'
Wick was Tigard's leading rusher in the contest with 116 yards on 31 carries. Floyd added 112 yards on 15 carries.
Freni completed nine of 28 pass attempts for 82 yards. McGetrick had four receptions for 39 yards.
For the Tigard defense, Consolo and senior Brandon Wick each had an interception. Floyd had a fumble recovery and Benny Wick and sophomore linebacker Jake Biglow each had a tackle for a loss.
For Jesuit, Sellers rushed for 200 yards on 14 carries. Glass had 137 yards on 14 carries. Rothstein completed one of four passes for 73 yards.
For the season for Tigard, Benny Wick and Floyd each went over 1,000 yards rushing. Floyd led the team with 1,171 yards and 19 touchdowns on 134 carries. Wick added 1,103 yards and 14 scores on 157 carries.
Greene nearly became a third 1,000-yard rusher for the Tigers as he had 909 yards on just 86 carries.
Freni completed 74 of 145 pass attempts for 1,445 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season. McGetrick was the top receiver with 21 catches for 428 yards. Brandon Wick had 17 receptions for 540 yards and seven touchdowns.
Hale set a single-season school record with 74 extra-point kicks.
For the Tigard defense, Brandon Wick paced the team with eight interceptions.
Senior defensive end Jeremy Moore, the Pacific Conference Defensive Player of the Year, had eight quarterback sacks and four forced fumbles.