Lions top Lakers for first time in 13 years

by: VERN UYETAKE - West Linn tailback Louie Germain sprints trhough the Lake Oswego defensive line for a 50-yard touchdown in what would be the only score of the day of the Lions in a 7-3 victory.Perhaps the most stunning thing about West Linn's historic 7-3 victory over Lake Oswego on Friday, breaking the Lakers' 48-game Three Rivers League winning streak, was that by game's end the result didn't appear stunning at all.

In most instances, a monumental upset involves the underdog playing the game of its life and needing a little bit of luck in the process.

That simply wasn't the case Friday. In fact, the Lions dominated the game, racking up nearly three times as much offense as the Lakers, controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and, frankly, didn't get many breaks either.

West Linn had three turnovers, including a potential back-breaker near Lake Oswego's goal line toward the end of the first half.

But even after controlling the vast majority of the game, there was always a lingering suspicion that the longtime kings of the TRL would find a way to emerge victorious.

It wasn't to be and, in some ways, it was fitting that it was West Linn that finally did the honors in shattering the streak.

In Lake Oswego's 48-game dominance, West Linn came the closest to ending the streak, losing a similar game 7-6 with a failed extra point providing the only margin of difference.

The difference this time around was West Linn staunch defense, which yielded just three first downs in the first half, which was before the heavy rain and wind moved in and gave up just one big play all night.

“We had some momentum going after the Barlow game and that gave us some confidence,” receiver Kurt Moon said.

The first half was a battle for field position. The Lions opened with a steady dose of the run and an 18-yard pass from Hayden Coppedge to Moon, eventually driving to the 35-yard line before getting stuffed on fourth-and-one.

The teams traded stops until midway through the second quarter. After an illegal formation penalty negated a big run, Coppege threw a pass that was juggled and picked off by Lake Oswego's Nick Underwood.

Underwood ran the ball back to the end zone but his return was called back on a penalty. Still, Lake Oswego had the ball on West Linn's 33-yard line and quickly moved into the red zone.

However, a bad snap and an intentional grounding penalty knocked the Lakers out of scoring range and they were forced to punt.

“Our defense was really special tonight. It was a phenomenal effort,” coach Mike Fanger said.

West Linn then drove the length of the field, getting receptions from Moon and Louie Germain to reach the 2-yard line.

On the next play, the Lions would fumble, giving the ball back to the Lakers without much time left in the first half.

Lake Oswego opened the third quarter with the ball and got a 43-yard catch from Jordan Horak down to the 12-yard line.

However, West Linn's defense held and forced a short field goal.

The Lions got a big third down reception from Cam Schmitz on its first drive of the third quarter but was ultimately faced with another fourth-and-one opportunity at midfield.

West Linn got the ball to its workhorse in Germain and he found an opening up the middle and then outran the Lakers' secondary for a 50-yard score.

“It was all about our blocking tonight. There was a gap and I just took off,” Germain said.

The Lions had another nice drive in the third quarter, mixing up the run and a short passing game despite the deluge before a holding penalty thwarted another attempt to score.

“We're always looking to run first and, with the weather, that was obviously the plan. Our offensive line did a great job, and I was impressed with how effective we were when we had to throw it,” Fanger said.

While Lake Oswego was 10-29 passing for 106 yards, Coppedge went 20-28 for 153 yards.

Despite clinging to a four-point lead, Lake Oswego didn't threaten much in the second quarter. Looking to kill time, Germain was given the ball exclusively down the stretch and he responded, moving the Lions into Lake Oswego territory again before the team was forced to punt.

Germain would finish the game with 220 yards rushing.

“It definitely feels great to put in the work and have it pay off,” Germain said.

Gavin Andersen pinned the Lakers back to the 1-yard line and, after two first downs, the Lions put a stop to the drive, effectively sealing the game.

It was a monumental win for the Lions not just because it broke a 13-year losing streak, but it also gives the team confidence and puts it in good position for a run the league title in a wild league.

“They're such a great program and so well coached. I'm just happy for our kids,” Fanger said.

West Linn will face undefeated Clackamas next week, the hottest team in the league and one that is coming off a victory over Lakeridge.

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