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Jaguars survive first-round playoff scare


Century's offense plays poorly, but the Jaguars slip past Crater

Former NFL coach Dick Vermeil used to tell his teams that it is always nice to play average and still win.

If it is nice to play average and win, then imagine just how nice last Friday night was for the Century football team. The Jaguars — they of the no-huddle Oregon Ducks style offense that has put up gaudy numbers this season — could not have played a whole lot worse through most of the 32-27 win over Crater in the second round of the OSAA Class 6A playoffs.

Century turned the ball over five times on the night. Quarterback Sam Riddle threw four interceptions and then watched as a fourth-quarter fumble was returned 55 yards for a touchdown. Two of Riddle’s interceptions came in the first quarter with the ball inside the Crater 10-yard line.

“Offensively, we made a ton of mistakes,” Century coach Bill Smith said. “It could have easily been a pretty decent lead by halftime. It was our own mistakes that kept us from that. I’m not trying to take anything away from Crater. They were very physical and a well coached team. But, we passed up some great opportunities to put the game out of reach early.”

Watching his normally sound offense shoot itself in the foot was shocking for Smith.

“It hasn’t been a problem,” Smith said. “We preached from day one of the pre-season that our biggest problem is ourselves — to line up properly, to know the plays, to get to where we belong. If we get beat because a team has better athletes than us, then so be it. But, we need to make the other team beat us.

"Friday night we did not do that. We just had too many mistakes. It’s not like us. We’ve had a pretty good season, a pretty good record, pretty good stats, and that’s because we’ve been doing the right things.”

Eventually Riddle and the offense were able to overcome those mistakes and score just enough points to slip past Crater. Riddle ended the night completing 27-of-50 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns.

Century’s defense earned the hero award on the night, though, allowing Crater to only score one touchdown that did not come off a turnover.

“The neat thing Friday is that we had a great defensive effort by some kids who just really stepped up and played well,” Smith said. “We had five intercepted balls ourselves, returned one of them for a touchdown, and had one fumble recovery. As many mistakes we made on offense, the defense made up for it Friday night.”

With the dominance of the Century offense this season — the Jaguars have put up 60 or more points three times and 50-plus points twice — the defense has often been overlooked. Smith says that it is not a weakness for his team, though.

“Our defense has not been an Achilles heel,” Smith said. “Our offense has been putting up a lot of points and our defense is younger than our offense. But, if you take a look at the season, we’ve been playing some pretty good defenses lately. Our defense has been playing very well lately and had the best game of the season Friday night. Talk about peaking at the right time.”

Century (8-2) will need both the offense and the defense to be clicking for them when they take on Metro League champion Southridge this Friday night in the second round of the state playoffs.

“If there was ever a game where you have to have all aspects of your game together it would be against Southridge,” Smith said. “They have a very tenacious defense, they have a sound offensive line, they have a tremendous running attack, their receivers are tall, they can do it all. They can run, they can pass. For us to have any chance at all of considering beating these guys, we have to have a sound offensive game, a great defensive game and we need to not make mistakes on special teams.”

Regardless of how Century fairs against Southridge, Smith could not be more proud of the season the Jaguars have already had.

“I’m very proud,” Smith said. “That’s a good word for it. I remember when the seniors were freshman and they won four games at the 5A level. I remember them playing against Sherwood and Aloha in the freshman jamboree and playing very poorly.

“We knew there was a lot of potential, but we also knew that it would take a lot of maturity and hard work. These kids and their families have really dedicated themselves to working hard. It’s been fun. Even in losses to Tualatin and Tigard, they never ever stopped fighting. They went down swinging and I’m really proud of them for that.”

The hard work and dedication that the Jaguars players have shown in making such drastic improvements over the last several years has brought tradition back to the Century football program and is what has them in a position to make a run at a state championship.

“It’s been neat to see this group of kids be such leaders,” Smith says. “Our numbers in the last couple of years, as far as participation in football, have done nothing but go up. The expectations for offseason commitments, for lifting weights, have done nothing but go up. This senior class has just been tremendous examples of when you work hard, good things happen. The main thing is their hard work.”