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PREP FOOTBALL: Opportunistic Rams roll into semis; Tigard showdown next

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Central Catholic's Cameron Scarlett flexs his muscles after scoring a touchdown against Clackamas.Central Catholic’s high-powered offense was held in check during the first half of Friday night’s Class 6A quarterfinal against Clackamas.

The Rams had to call upon their opportunistic defense to carry them.

Central Catholic forced four turnovers in the game, turned three of them into second-half touchdowns, and ran back an interception for a touchdown to cruise to a 42-7 blowout at Hillsboro Stadium.

The victory puts Central Catholic (12-0) into next Saturday's semifinals against Tigard (12-0) in a highly anticipated match-up that could be the de facto state championship game.

“The turnovers allowed us to open it up,” Rams coach Steve Pyne said. “We got some short fields and were able to capitalize on it. Momentum is huge.”

The biggest momentum shift of the night came with 1:34 remaining in the second quarter. With Central Catholic leading 14-7, Clackamas was driving and had the ball on the Rams' 36-yard line.

But just when the Cavaliers (9-3) appeared ready to score and take a tie into the locker room, Rams linebacker Ryan Nall dropped into coverage and made a perfect read. Nall picked off the pass on the 28 and raced to the end zone.

“I dropped into my coverage, I saw the quarterback roll out, I locked into his eyes, he threw it and I had it,” Nall said.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Central Catholic's Ryan Nall busts through a hole in the Clackamas defense.Nall did his share of damage at running back, too. He ran had TD runs of 65, 51 and 8 yards.

“The blocking was right,” Nall said. “I made a few plays bouncing out and having the cutbacks.”

Cameron Scarlett, the second part of the Rams' two-headed running back monster, did his job, as well.

Scarlett ran for touchdowns of 10 and 26 yards. Scarlett also caught a screen pass from quarterback Aidan Wilder that he took in for a 21-yard score.

“My success goes to my O-line, because it all starts up front,” Scarlett said. “They’ve been doing a heck of a job all year.

"I worked to get open and make plays when the ball was in the air.”

The match against Tigard, a 42-0 winner over visiting North Medford on Friday, will have plenty of story lines. One of the biggest is that Tigard knocked Central Catholic out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals last season.

The Central Catholic-Tigard winner this year will play either Jesuit High or Canby.

“Tigard is well coached, and they’ve got some fantastic kids," Pyne said. "We’ll get a chance to watch some film and see if we can give them a game.”