The young Pioneers nip LO 27-26 in the championship final

by: SUBMITTED - Oregon City fifth and sixth graders pose proudly with their championship hardware from the Willamette-Landry Division Championship Tournament. The young Pioneers went 9-1 on the season, avenging their only loss with a 27-26 win over Lake Oswego in the championship final.Oregon City had an outstanding team in fifth and sixth grade youth football. The Oregon City-Black team went 9-1 on the season and they defeated Lake Oswego-Silver 27-26 in the championship game of the Tualatin Valley Youth Football Willamette-Landry Division, avenging their only loss.

“This group had great leadership out of the sixth grade players,” said Oregon City coach Mark Bell. “They practiced hard and always came out ready to play. Their knowledge of the game was outstanding. They had a good understanding of what we wanted to do and executed the game plan.”

The title game with Lake Oswego went down to the wire, with the Lakers going up 26-20 with a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. The Pioneers blocked the attempt at the point-after, and then went to work with their hurry-up offense.

A minute after Lake Oswego’s score, tailback Zakhayas Lee took a shotgun snap, faked the run, and then found Colby Iverson in the corner of the end zone for the game-tying touchdown. Lee then got a couple of good blocks and bulled his way in for the PAT conversion, and the young Pioneers had their 27-26 winning advantage.

It was double revenge for the Pioneers, because the sixth graders on this year’s team had lost a title game with a team from Lake Oswego when they were fifth graders.

In regular-season play this fall, the Pioneers earned victories over Sunset-White (25-13), Clackamas-Grey (42-27), West Linn-Green (33-13), Sunset-Gold (39-27), Tualatin-Grey (52-33), Sherwood-White (45-26) and Tigard-White (31-18), while dropping a close game to Lake Oswego-Silver 31-25.

They then beat Sunset-Gold 37-18 in the end-of-the-season-tournament semifinals, earning their rematch with Lake Oswego in the championship final.

Iverson excelled as the Pioneer quarterback all season, with Lee the main running back.

“Colby did a good job controlling the game,” Bell said. “He called a lot of our plays at the line of scrimmage. He ran the ball a lot for us, and he threw the ball better than any quarterback in our league, in my opinion. We don’t keep stats, but I believe he was close to 70 percent passing, with only a handful of interceptions. He was one of the better quarterbacks I’ve seen for this age, in terms of passing and leadership....

“Zakhayas was a tremendous running back. He has great field vision, outstanding speed, and he understands the game.”

Coach Bell said that Carter Bell, Truman Davis and Hunter van Hees headed the Pioneer receiver corps.

“Carter caught 35 to 40 passes this year,” coach Bell said. “He’s got outstanding hands and good speed....

“Truman did a good job using his size and getting open. He’s a good athlete. Hunter was a terrific blocker.”

“Our offensive line, anchored by Kelsen Hennessy and Jacob Phillips, was good, both protecting on the pass and blocking for the run,” Bell said.

Bell said that Lee, Michael Percival and Carter Bell were standouts in the defensive secondary, while Iverson, Davis and Jonathan Millard excelled at linebacker.

“Kelsen Hennessy, Jacob Phillips and Matt Woolcott anchored our defensive front,” Bell said.

Other members of the standout team included: Robert Boland, Dawson Drews, Jordan Carter, Colin Conley, Jayden Hill, Hayden Miller, Marcus Roebuck, Daniel Polanco, Tavita Poulson Jr., Zachary Werner, Dakota Miller, Hunter Southworth, Austin Pottratz, Jesse Lawson, A.J. Edgerly and Tommy Blexrude.

Dean Hennessy, Dane Iverson and Matt Phillips were assistant coaches.

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