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Lions can beat Falcons, chase fourth automatic Northwest Oregon seed Thursday

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Junior running back Shawn Lee (5) and the Lions are still in the playoff hunt if they can beat La Salle Prep on Homecoming Thursday.

If the Lions are to reach Class 5A state for the third year in a row, they must beat La Salle Prep Thursday.

St. Helens (1-5 overall, 1-3 Northwest Oregon Conference) is scheduled to host the Falcons (3-3, 2-2), who hold the fourth and final automatic Northwest Oregon qualifier seed, on Homecoming at 7 p.m. at Doc Ackerson Stadium.

"It's going to be a tough game," Lions senior running back and linebacker Cody Leanna said. "Both teams are pretty even. We are coming off a good team win and are ready to play."

A win would give St. Helens a head-to-head tiebreaker over La Salle and, if Putnam (3-3, 2-2) falls at No. 5 Sandy (4-2, 3-1) Thursday, would lift the Lions into a tie for fourth.

St. Helens plays at Putnam next Friday and, true to the Homecoming theme, can write a tale as old as time against the Falcons, whom it's beaten three years in a row by an average of 34-25 since they came up from Class 3A in 2014.

Hillsboro (1-5, 1-3) holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, however, and also pursues the fourth seed as it hosts Milwaukie (4-1, 3-1) Thursday.

"I look forward to playing a really hard-fought game," St. Helens senior quarterback Chase Parkhurst said. "We're riding this momentum into this week and will play fast, physical, and smart."

La Salle is antsy for a win after tough back-to-back losses (36-34 Oct. 6 in Milwaukie and 28-19 Sept. 29 in Sandy).

"We have made huge improvements on both sides of the ball that led to our win last week," Lions senior lineman Caleb Carter said. "I'm excited to see how we rally on defense and how our offense can take control of the game. This is another opportunity for us to come out on top."

St. Helens scores 14 points against 45 allowed per outing, while the Falcons and all-conference picks Tae Brooks (a 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior wide receiver) and Tony Huynh (a 6-foot, 205 junior defensive lineman) put up 28 points and give up 25.

"We're excited about building upon our successes against Parkrose and seeing some improvements from what we saw on film," Lions coach Cory Young said. "There are still some things we can fix, and we want to have a good week and take care of those things moving forward."

LA SALLE PREP AT ST. HELENS

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday

LAST CHANCE DANCE: With a win, the Lions will stay in the hunt for Class 5A state's fourth and final automatic Northwest Oregon Conference seed.

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