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Under the radar Skyhawks up next

The semifinal match-up between Lake Oswego and Jesuit received so much attention and was so well-played that many Laker fans and students can probably be forgiven for celebrating afterward like the team had just won the state title.

Unfortunately, Lake Oswego's reward for topping the Crusaders in dramatic fashion for the second time this year is a date with a team that is currently playing some of the best football in the state.

Southridge has quietly steamrolled its competition in the playoffs with its closest margin of victory coming last week in a 44-14 pasting of Beaverton. The Skyhawks appear to be every bit as talented as the Crusaders, having lost in overtime to Jesuit 19-16 in the regular season.

Since then, Southridge hasn't played a close game. With the top half of this year's playoff bracket being so loaded with talented teams, what the Skyhawks have been doing has gone somewhat unnoticed to this point.

'They did fly under the radar a bit being on that side of the bracket but all year they've been a top team and they are certainly deserving to be there,' Laker coach Steve Coury said.

In many ways, Southridge may actually pose even bigger match-up problems than Jesuit did. That's because the Skyhawks are extremely balanced on offense and unpredictable on defense.

Southridge does look to run the ball first and tailback Kirk Werhane has been stellar, racking up 1,364 yards so far this season and 17 touchdowns. The Skyhawks tend to run the ball behind their strong offensive line as opposed to calling a variety of sweeps like the Crusaders.

'They tend to run the ball between the tackles and their line is very athletic. They look like a bunch of clones. Also unlike Jesuit, Southridge is nearly as dangerous through the air as it is on the ground,' Coury said.

Quarterback Kellen Mastrud has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards this year with 19 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions.

'We obviously have to stop the run but you can't forget about the pass. You have to defend the entire field,' Coury said. The team also has a pair of very tall and athletic receivers that could give the Lakers' talented but shorter cornerbacks problems.

Southridge's kicker, Trevor Harman also has one of the better legs in the state and is accurate from 40+ yards. On defense, Southridge will likely throw a handful of different schemes at the Lakers

'They do some different things. They'll go with a four-man line and a three-man line. We'll have to prepare for an array of things,' Coury said.

For Coury, a huge part of his job this season has been spent making sure that his team has been where it needs to be mentally from week to week. After its first emotional win over Jesuit, the team didn't see much competition.

Lake Oswego rolled through league play and didn't receive a challenge until its quarterfinal win over Sheldon. The Lakers now need to regroup and reach the same level of intensity they achieved heading out of the locker room at PGE Park last week.

'I'm hoping the kids realize where they are. This is what they've been waiting for. There's no tomorrow and they don't feel satisfied yet,' Coury said.