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Blackshear makes triumphant return

The senior, in his first game back from injury, has an interception and TD catch
by: DAN BROOD I GOT IT — Sherwood High School senior Brandon Blackshear (left) goes up high to grab the ball to complete a 17-yard touchdown pass play in Friday’s Class 5A state playoff semifinal game.

SALEM - It was easy to tell that all of the Bowmen were fired up for their Class 5A state playoff semifinal game with West Albany on Friday.

But Sherwood High School senior Brandon Blackshear may have been the most fired-up Bowmen of them all.

Blackshear, a starter at receiver and cornerback, was back in action after missing the team's previous three games due to an ankle injury.

The injury was previously diagnosed as a fracture, which may have kept Blackshear off the field for the rest of the season.

While it was good news that he was back in action sooner than originally expected, it still was tough for him to miss those three games.

'I wanted to be there, but just watching was frustrating,' Blackshear said following the Bowmen's 61-28 victory over West Albany. 'This was huge for me to get back out there. I was definitely extra fired up.'

And it showed - as Blackshear made a triumphant return.

With 1 minute and 17 seconds left to play in the first quarter of the championship match, Blackshear made a leaping interception of a pass thrown by West Albany quarterback Branden Myers.

Then with 52 seconds left to play in the second quarter, Blackshear pulled in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Sherwood senior quarterback Dusty Crabtree, upping the Bowmen lead to 41-7 at that point.

'Those were both special,' Blackshear said. 'But the interception was a bit better, because I'm a defender first.'

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Prior to Friday's semifinal game, Marist coach Frank Geske, whose team fell 26-23 to Sherwood in overtime in the 2010 state championship game, was talking about some of the Bowmen.

'Last year, we wanted to run at their No. 70,' Geske said, referring to Sherwood senior lineman Zane Groves. 'Now, we'd probably try to stay far away from him.'

It's that improvement, noticed by many, in both Groves and rest of the Bowmen linemen, that certainly seems to be part of the team's success.

'We've all put in a lot of hard work,' Grove said following the victory over West Albany. 'This year, we had an astonishing amount of people in the weight room. Everyone made a huge commitment. And we've got a good offensive line coach and a good defensive line coach. They've really helped the program.'

Groves, and the rest of the Sherwood offensive linemen, have helped the Bowmen rush for an average of 339.9 yards a game heading into Saturday's state championship contest.