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Tigers are ready for Lake Oswego challenge

The state playoff semifinal game will be played Saturday


by: DAN BROOD - READY FOR MORE -- The Tigard High School football team, including Zach Floyd (23), Conner Olson (30), Jett Even (14), Ethan Lange (52) and Robby Chabreck (15) celebrates following the win over Central Catholic. PORTLAND — The Tigard High School football team overcame quite a challenge in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

Tigard’s reward: an even bigger challenge.

And the Tigers are pretty darn happy about it.

Tigard will try to do what no other team has done since the 2010 season — beat Lake Oswego — when it takes on the defending state champion Lakers in a Class 6A state playoff semifinal game set to start at noon Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field.

“We’re excited for that,” Tigard junior quarterback Jett Even said following the Tigers’ 43-37 win over Central Catholic in last Friday’s state playoff quarterfinal contest played at Hillsboro Stadium. “I love it.”

It will be Tigard’s first semifinal game since 2003, when the Tigers went on to win the state championship.

“This is very exciting,” Tigard senior running back Zach Floyd said following the quarterfinal contest. “We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

Lake Oswego, the Three Rivers League champion, brings an overall record of 12-0 into Saturday’s semifinal game. The Lakers are also the owners of a 26-game winning streak. Their last loss was a 17-16 setback to Aloha in the semifinal round of the 2010 state playoffs.by: DAN BROOD - WRAPPED UP -- Tigard junior linebacker Joe Lobbato has a hold of Central Catholic's Cameron Scarlett in Friday's quarterfinal game.

“There’s no question, Lake Oswego is a great team,” Tigard coach Craig Ruecker said. “They’re undefeated and they’re the defending state champions. We are definitely looking forward to this game.”

The Tigers, on Saturday, will be taking on a Laker squad that looks to be strong on both sides of the ball.

On defense, Lake Oswego has surrendered a Class 6A state best average of just 10.4 points a game.

The Laker defense is led by senior nose guard Austin Faunce (6-foot-2, 240 pounds) and senior middle linebacker Mitch Lomax (6-4, 240), who shared the Three Rivers League Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Lake Oswego has seven other first-team all-league picks on defense in senior defensive end Spencer Anderson (6-2, 200), junior middle linebacker Nick Underwood (6-1, 215), senior outside linebacker Neil Wagner (6-2, 212), senior outside linebacker Romello Washington (6-3, 203), senior cornerback Chandler Kelly (5-10, 190), senior cornerback Nick Bunick (5-10, 180) and senior safety Jack Anderson (6-2, 190).

The Laker offensive attack is guided by senior quarterback Justen Ruppe (5-11, 170), who earned All-Three Rivers League first-team accolades.

For the season, Ruppe has completed 80 of 114 pass attempts for 1,657 yards with 13 touchdowns and only one interception.

Senior receiver Connor Griffin (6-4, 205), another first-team all-league pick, looks to be Ruppe’s favorite target. He has a team-high 31 receptions for 792 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Senior running back J.B. Holmes, who is another first-team all-leaguer, is the Lakers’ leading rusher with 1,028 yards and 18 touchdowns on 149 carries.

On the offensive line, Lake Oswego has four first-team all-league selections in senior center Kyle Peterson (6-1, 220), senior guard Noah Peterson (6-5, 285), senior tackle Reid Penny (6-4, 280) and Lomax at tight end.

“On defense, we’re going to need to slow them down,” Ruecker said. “They emphasize the run a little more than the pass, but they can throw the ball well when they want to.”

Meanwhile, Tigard, which is 11-1 on the season, boasts a strong offensive attack of its own, putting up an average of 48.9 points a game, second best among all Class 6A teams.

The Tiger offense operates behind a powerful offensive line, which has provided plenty of running room for Tigard’s backs — led by Floyd.

For the season, Floyd has rushed for 1,900 yards and 25 touchdowns on 196 carries. He also has two receiving touchdowns, two kickoff returns for touchdowns, an interception return for a touchdown and a punt return for a score. Floyd also has thrown five TD passes out of the wildcat formation.

Without fellow senior star running backs Kaz Greene (who suffered a dislocated elbow in a first-round state playoff game) and Benny Wick (who suffered a broken arm in the regular season finale), Floyd has turned things up even more in the postseason.

In Tigard’s three state playoff victories, Floyd has rushed for 917 yards and 10 touchdowns on 86 carries. He could get some help this week as both Greene and Wick could possibly return to action.

Even, for the season, has completed 72 of 125 pass attempts for 1,312 yards with 17 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Tigard’s offensive line includes four first-team All-Pacific Conference selections in senior center Matt Franz, senior guard Cain Adams, senior tackle Ethan Lange and junior tight end Jake Biglow.

On defense, Tigard has six first-team all-league picks in Adams and junior A.J. Hotchkins on the defensive line, Biglow and Wick at linebacker and Floyd and senior Anthony Consolo at defensive back.

The Tigers also seem to have plenty of enthusiasm and confidence on their side heading into Saturday’s semifinal contest.

“We’re going to work real hard next week,” Even said following the win over Central Catholic. “We’ll get our game plan and go.”

“We just have to do what we do,” Biglow said. “If we play our game, and our offense executes like it can, we’ll do well.”

“We need to do what we did tonight,” Floyd said following the quarterfinal victory. “We need to play our hearts out and play every play like it’s our last.”

Jesuit and Sheldon will meet in the other Class 6A semifinal game, which will start at 4 p.m. Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field.

The semifinal victors will clash in the Class 6A state championship game, which will be played Dec. 8, starting at 1 p.m. at Jeld-Wen Field.




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