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Three Rivers League teams have more than held their own in Oregon Class 6A high school football this fall.

The league has advanced all six of its teams to the 32-team first-round of the Class 6A playoffs.

Oregon City, Clackamas and Lakeridge advanced to the playoffs by finishing as the top three teams in the TRL.

Canby advanced by having the highest OSAA RPI ranking of teams that didn’t automatically qualify.

Lake Oswego and West Linn advanced by winning state play-in games last Friday, the Lakers handling David Douglas 42-21, and the Lions breezing to a 42-20 win over Grant.

Clackamas, Lakeridge, Oregon City, Canby, Lake Oswego and West Linn enter the state playoffs ranked sixth, ninth, tenth, twelfth, seventeenth and twenty-fourth respectively.

In first-round games scheduled for this Friday, Clackamas (7-2, 3-2) will host twenty-seventh-ranked Aloha (3-7, 0-5), Oregon City (8-1, 4-1) will host twenty-third-ranked McMinnville (6-4, 3-4), Lakeridge (7-2, 3-2) will host twenty-fifth-ranked South Medford (3-6, 3-4), Canby (4-5, 2-3) will host twenty-first-ranked Newberg (5-4, 4-3), Lake Oswego (4-6, 2-3) will play at sixteenth-ranked Sunset (7-2, 3-2), and West Linn (4-6, 1-4) will play at eighth-ranked Southridge (6-3, 3-2).

Pioneers have

high aspirations

Coming off one of their best regular seasons in school history, the Three Rivers League champion Oregon City Pioneers aim to make a long run in this year’s state high school football playoffs.

And they may have the weapons to do just that.

Oregon City sophomore running back Conner Mitchell has proven himself one of the top running backs in the state, rushing for 1,590 yards and 13 touchdowns in nine games. The 5-9, 180-pound sophomore is averaging 6.5 yards a carry and 176 yards a game.

The Pioneers also have a seasoned quarterback in two-year starter Jon Hall. A 6-0, 205-pound senior, Hall has passed for 1,503 yards and 17 touchdowns. He’s got a 58 percent completion rate, connecting on 94-of-160 aerials, with six interceptions.

Hall has three highly skilled receivers in Trevor Bradford, Matthew Oades and Hunter Knighton.

A 5-10, 172-pound sophomore, Bradford has 23 receptions for 535 yards and six touchdowns; a 6-2, 205-pound senior, Oades has 37 receptions for 531 yards and five touchdowns; a 6-2, 195-pound junior, Knighton has 16 catches for 284 yards.

And the Pioneers have a kicker who is money in Alex Canchola. The 6-1, 160-pound senior has connected on 33-of-34 PAT kicks and he has hit 9-of-11 field goals, including a 37-yarder.

While Hall has thrown only six interceptions, Oregon City defenders have picked off 15 passes thrown by opposing quarterbacks.

The Pioneers take a record of 8-1 into postseason play, their lone loss a 20-15 nailbiter in a Sept. 27 away game with Canby.

Entering this Friday’s game with the Grizzlies, the Pioneers are averaging 32 points a game, to their opponents’ 18. Senior Clay Valenzuela-Reece, a 5-9, 160-pound defensive back, has a team-leading six interceptions, five of them in Oregon City’s last two games.

Leading tacklers are: 6-1, 185-pound sophomore linebacker Kiahve Dennis-Lee (41 tackles and 38 assists), 5-9 180-pound junior linebacker Jake Yoshimura (29 tackles, 35 assists), and 6-0, 195-pound linebacker Austin Bjorkman (28 tackles, 27 assists).

McMinnville (6-4, 3-4) finished fifth in the eight-team Pacific Conference, losing league games to second-ranked Tigard (58-0), 13th-ranked Tualatin (47-21), 21st-ranked Glencoe (28-13) and 29th-ranked Forest Grove (43-34). Tigard, Tualatin and 20th-ranked Newberg were the only Pacific Conference teams ranked in the top 20.

McMinnville is averaging 34 points an outing, to 26 points by its opponents.

The Grizzlies handled McKay in last Friday’s play-in round, winning 62-14.

Should the Pioneers defeat McMinnville on Friday, they’ll have their work cut out for them in the second round of the state playoffs, because they’ll likely meet seventh-ranked North Medford (8-1, 7-0) on the road.

North Medford is riding an eight-game win string entering this Friday’s game with unheralded Reynolds (4-5, 3-2), the Black Tornado’s only setback a 20-13 loss to McNary in their season opener.

Asked about the prospects of meeting one of the state’s top teams if they can get by McMinnville, Oregon City coach Bruce Reece said, “We’ve got to get this one first. We can’t look past anyone. Our focus is one week at a time, just like it’s been all season. It’s all on McMinnville right now.”

Reece said that he watched McMinnville dismantle McKay last Friday, and he says the Grizzlies are not a bad football team.

“The key will be for us to slow their wing-T offense, and for us, offensively, to be able to spread them out and throw the ball,” he said.

Reece says the Grizzlies have a quarterback who is “a real good football player” in 6-2, 190-pound senior Gabe Gubrud.

“He’s a real threat,” Reece said. “He can run with the football, but he likes to throw more than run. And he’s got a great target in [6-3, 205 senior] tight end Grant Rubado.”

Reece said the Grizzlies also have three capable running backs in 5-8, 185-pound senior Zach Silver, 6-0, 180-pound junior Tanner Scanlon, and 5-9, 215-pound senior Cristian Medina.

Cavaliers could be

tough to beat

After suffering tough, tough losses to Lake Oswego and Oregon City, the Clackamas Cavaliers got back on the win track in their last league game, a 42-41 overtime win at twelfth-ranked Canby.

The Cavaliers’ spirits have been buoyed heading into the postseason by their Oregon School Activities Association RPI ranking. Even though they have losses to Oregon City and Lake Oswego, they are still ranked sixth in the state in the rankings heading into postseason play, higher than any other TRL team. The high ranking, which is based both on success in the win-loss column and toughness of schedule, should give the Cavaliers an enviable schedule for the playoffs.

The Cavaliers will have plenty of confidence heading into this Friday’s state playoff opener with Aloha. The Cavaliers handled the twenty-seventh-ranked Warriors, winning 35-7, in a Sept. 13 preseason game at Clackamas.

The Warriors went on to go winless in the Metro League and their only wins this season have come in nonleague games with co-36th-ranked Thurston (37-34) and North Salem (52-20), and in a 36-30 nailbiter with 38th-ranked Grant. Those three teams have a combined win loss-record of 6-24, each of them with only two wins.

Aloha quarterbacks Richard Belog (6-1, 184-pound senior) and Nick Krautscheld (6-0, 180-pound senior) are averaging only 130 yards passing a game and the Warriors have had 10 passes intercepted.

Aloha’s top running backs, 160-pound senior Calvin Davis and 175-pound sophomore Parker Bull, and Belog, together are averaging less than 100 yards rushing a game.

When the Cavaliers and Warriors played on Sept. 13, Aloha had only 62 yards in net rushing offense and Krautscheid passed for 187 yards. Clackamas was up 35-0 in the fourth quarter when the Warriors scored their only touchdown.

In last Friday’s 52-20 win over North Salem, Belog completed 8-of-14 passes for 157 yards, connecting with senior wide receiver Maurice McSwain (5-11, 174) on six passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Belog was Aloha’s top rusher, with five carries for 66 yards.

Rallying around senior quarterbacks Doonie Johnson and Cade Wilkins and senior running back Dan Sherrell, the Cavaliers have generated plenty of offense this season.

Sherrell ranks among the state’s top rushers, with 215 carries for 1,590 yards and 25 touchdowns in nine games, or a 7.3 yard per carry average.

Johnson and Wilkins have teamed up to complete 133-of-215 passes (62 percent) for 1,534 yards and 10 touchdowns, with 11 interceptions.

Top receivers have been Nick Krska (29 receptions/504 yards), Brody Haehlen (18 receptions/312 yards), Taylor Stinson (21 receptions/278 yards) and Keegan Daley (23 receptions/276 yards).

Gladiators face

a still challenge

The Tri-Valley Conference champion Gladstone Gladiators could have their work cut out for them in this Friday’s first-round Class 4A home playoff game with Siuslaw.

The Vikings enter the game with an 8-1 record and a sixth-in-the-state ranking, their only loss to Far West League champion and seventh-ranked North Bend.

Siuslaw dropped a 45-40 barnburner to La Salle in the 4A state final two years ago, and the Vikings dropped a 22-21 heartbreaker to La Salle in the first round of last year’s state playoffs.

The offense-minded Vikings have averaged 41 points in their first nine games this fall, while yielding just 18 points an outing.

Friday’s game could be a wild, high-scoring affair. Eleventh-ranked Gladstone (7-2, 5-0) this fall has averaged 43 points, while allowing opponents just 13.

Junior running back Handsome Smith leads a balanced Gladiator ground attack, with 112 carries for 1,238 yards and 13 touchdowns in nine games.

Gladstone senior quarterback Austin Galvin has completed 51-of-114 passes for 804 yards and 12 touchdowns, with five interceptions.

Zach Smith has 10 catches for a team-leading 213 yards and two touchdowns.

Siuslaw last Friday won a state play-in game from twenty-fifth-ranked Sweet Home, 49-21.

Should Gladstone defeat Siuslaw on Friday, the Gladiators will likely advance to a Class 4A quarterfinal game at top-ranked Philomath (9-0), which is one of only two teams still unbeaten in Oregon Class 4A high school football.

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