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Lakers show Jesuit they belong

by: Vern Uyetake, It was Lake Oswego’s first-ever victory over Jesuit after three previous losses. It was also the first time since 1990 that Jesuit had been shut out. A number of players were instrumental in Friday’s victory, including Jay Matthews, who intercepted a pass late in the first half. Matt Tellam, pictured, sacked Jesuit quarterback Scott Williams before he had a chance to find a receiver.

According to most of the prognosticators around the state, there was no way that the Jesuit football team could lose. Apparently, those armchair quarterbacks forgot to discuss that matter with Lake Oswego.

To the surprise of many people outside of Lake Oswego, the Lakers thoroughly dominated the top-ranked Crusaders Friday night en route to a 21-0 non-league victory.

It was Lake Oswego's first-ever victory over Jesuit after three previous losses. And it was the first time that Jesuit had been shut out since a 24-0 loss to Tigard in 1990.

'I give our coaches and our kids so much credit for being ready to play,' Lake Oswego coach Steve Coury said after the game.

'I think the biggest thing was the mental part of it. I told our kids that all week long. You've got to be able to believe that you can beat them.'

The Lakers not only believed they could win, but they came prepared with a good game plan that they executed it to near perfection. The result was a 383 to 185 advantage in total yardage.

Fifth-ranked Lake Oswego (3-0) relied heavily on senior running back Zach Young, who carried 31 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, Young also threw a pass for 32 yards and had three receptions for 21.

Junior quarterback Jack Lomax provided the perfect compliment to Young as he completed 11 of 19 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown.

Lomax, who is emerging as one of the better quarterbacks in the state, gave credit to everyone but himself.

'It was everybody contributing. That's what gets you the win. It's teamwork,' Lomax said.

The Lake Oswego defense also played a huge role in the victory. The defense set the tone for the game by limiting Jesuit to just 10 plays and one first down during the Crusaders' first three possessions.

'It was just a matter of being prepared and coming ready to play,' linebacker Billy Lee said. 'They beat us last year, so we had something to prove.'

It was the Lakers' offense that set the tone for the game, scoring the first time it had the ball. The first play was a 24-yard run by Young. He wound up carrying the ball on the Lakers' first five plays as the Lake Oswego line paved the way.

'Our line is phenomenal,' Lomax said. 'We were giving Zach the ball with a lot of open space (to run in).'

Once Jesuit began keying on Young, Lake Oswego then went to the air and that strategy paid instant dividends as Lomax hit Nick Halberg for a 49-yard gain. One play later, Lomax hit Jay Matthews for a nine-yard touchdown and Lake Oswego led 7-0.

The Lakers looked like they would score again on their next possession, but the drive stalled at the Jesuit 7-yard line and then a 25-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.

Lake Oswego didn't score again until the opening possession of the second half, and Young capped that 71-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.

Jesuit seemed destined to get that touchdown back on its next possession as the Crusaders ventured inside the Lakers' 10-yard line. But the Lake Oswego defense stepped up with its biggest effort of the night and forced the Crusaders to turn the ball over on downs at the 12. The key play came when Lee and Jeff Kremer stopped Jesuit's star running back, Raphiel Lambert, for a one-yard loss on fourth down.

Lambert, who was touted as possibly the best running back in the state, finished the game with 82 yards on 17 carries.

'We just had his number and we were all over him,' Lee said. 'We have a fast defense.'

Stopping Lambert on that play was the crowning moment to a great defensive night.

'That's a lot of credit to the defensive staff and the kids executing the plan,' Coury said. '(Jesuit) has a lot of weapons and to not have them score in a game … Defensively, we just played super.'

The Lake Oswego offense still wasn't done, though, and it responded by driving the length of the field for the final score of the game. That drive included a 32-yard option pass from Young to Matthews. Young capped the drive and the scoring with a one-yard plunge into the end zone.

In the minds of the Laker fans, there was no question that their team was now the best in the state. That claim was then validated when Associated Press voted Lake Oswego to the No. 1 spot in this week's poll. But Coury is not sure if his team belongs there.

'I think we played one game really well and our kids played really hard, but it's such a long season and there's so many things that can happen. We've got a long ways to go, believe it or not.'