Sandy prepares for a battle with 5A's top-ranked team

by: JULI CHURCHILL - Sandy coach Greg Barton says his team has to prepare for a fight when it faces the physical Bowmen. Barton added that his team needs to play the way it did in the second half during Fridays 20-14 win over Liberty.

Greg Barton wasn’t going to let his team spoil its preparation for Liberty with talks of facing the state’s top-ranked school in two weeks. For now, the Falcons were the only team that mattered, and Sherwood would have to wait.

Credit the players; they listened and didn’t mention the Bowmen during the week of practice leading up to Liberty — at least not within earshot of their coach.

But when Friday and the Falcons arrived, Sandy was flat and needing inspiration, so Barton decided to break his own rule.

In the locker room, trailing by seven points at halftime to the 27th ranked team in the state, the coach told his Pioneers that if they lose this game, Sherwood won’t give them any respect. Barton had never addressed to his team with so much emotion.

The Bowmen already trounced the Falcons 61-20.

Barton’s premature Sherwood mention came at the perfect time — the Pioneers played the second half like a team demanding respect.

They scored 13 points in the third quarter and went on to beat Liberty 20-14 last Friday at Sandy High School.

“This give us a lot of steam going into Sherwood,” Sandy quarterback Justin Adams said after the win.

During the game and shortly after, Sandy was already thinking about its test against 5A’s best team at 7 p.m. Friday at Sherwood High School. It’s a team impossible to overlook, and even more so after the Bowmen handily defeated conference rival, No. 4 Wilsonville 35-14 last week.

by: KRISTOPHER ANDERSON - The No. 1 Sherwood Bowmen enter Fridays game against Sandy fresh off of easily beating Northwest Oregon Conference rival No. 4 Wilsonville.

“People look at Sherwood and think, ‘Oh, they’re just 5A,’” Barton said. “No, Sherwood can compete with any team in the state at any level. So for us to go out and compete, we have to have a great week of practice, we have to get our assignments down, and we just have to be very aggressive.”

And they have to resemble their second half performance against Liberty, not the first half.

Barton couldn’t explain why, but Sandy didn’t have much energy. The field, the sideline, the stands were all quiet. So the coach gave his speech, and his team was revitalized.

The defense shut out Liberty in the second half, and the offense rallied to complete the comeback.

“If we played like we did in the first half, we’ll get blown out,” Barton said. “If we have the same emotion that we did in the second half, now at least the kids are wanting to play.

“We have to get that intensity during the week of practice. Anyone who goes and plays Sherwood, if you’re not ready for a fight, you’re in trouble.”

Wilsonville’s coach Adam Guenther said that last Friday’s loss to the Bowmen was decided at the line of scrimmage. Sherwood’s defense blew through the line, disrupting the Wildcats’ offense and holding them to 61 yards in the first half.

That’s where Sherwood tends to win games, and that’s where the Pioneers are preparing to fight. But they might have to do so without starters Connor Bryant and Kevin TenEyck, who are dealing with injuries.

“You’re not going to control the line of scrimmage, but you have to compete for that control,” Barton said. “In other words, you have to play your A-game.”

At the end of the game, that’s how Barton will determine success. He wants his team to give Sherwood a competitive game.

Initially, Sandy looked like it could compete last season after scoring a touchdown on its first drive of the game. But the Bowmen did what they usually do. They put up a couple quick scores and forced the Pioneers to constantly throw the ball to narrow the deficit.

by: JULI CHURCHILL - Sandy receiver Andrew Funk breaks tackles as he runs up the field

It forced Sandy to play like a desperate team.

Success might be determined by how long the Pioneers can avoid that scenario.

But even with the Pioneers in the underdog role, Barton won’t use any motivational gimmicks this week. He says he doesn’t need to.

Since last week, Sandy’s been motivated to earn Sherwood’s respect.

“They’re well aware what we’re into here,” Barton said. “They know they’re walking in to a whole other level. I like that challenge for them because we’re still trying to evaluate our kids. At the end of this weekend we’ll learn a lot more about ourselves and what we need to do to get better.”

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