The WL quarterback puts on the pads one final time in a 31-21 victory

by: VERN UYETAKE - Hayden Coppedge was one of two quarterbacks for the winning North squad at the Les Schwab Bowl.The North squad emerged victorious in the annual Les Schwab Bowl last week at Hillsboro, as an advantageous defense helped the team pull away in the second half for a 31-21 victory.

West Linn had a lone representative on the North team, comprised of recently-graduated All-Star football players.

Hayden Coppedge was one of two quarterbacks on the roster and had a strong outing. Coppedge was one of West Linn's most versatile athletes at west Linn over the past few years. He was the Lions' starting quarterback for the majority of the past two seasons, started on the basketball team which captured back-to-back state championships and was also a varsity golfer, helping the Lions finish third at this year's state tournament.

Coppedge enjoyed putting on the pads one final time and helping the North team win for the third time in four years.

"It felt great. I was definitely a little rusty when we first started practicing though," Coppedge said.

But the unique experience of the Les Schwab Bowl is how it brings former rivals together to bond for a week leading up to the game. The North squad was particularly tight-knit this year and it showed both on and off the field.

"We all got along really well from day one and became really good friends," Coppedge said.

After both teams sputtered on their opening drives, the North got on the board first. Quarterback rushes by Central Catholic's Aidan Wilder, and a personal foul penalty set up Wilder's two-yard sneak to make it 7-0.

The South would fumble the ensuing kick-off, something that would be an issue for the team all game. Coppedge then completed a pair of passes to move the North closer, ultimately setting up a 30-yard field goal.

The North had a chance to blow the game open but failed to take advantage of the South's struggled on offense. An interception thrown by Wilder set up the South's first touchdown and, later in the second quarter, a fumble was returned 58 yards to give the South a 14-10 lead.

Coppedge was able to move the North into South territory on the next drive but a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.

However, on the next play, the North recorded a sack and recovered a fumble with less than a minute to play in the half.

A big completion set up another touchdown run from Wilder to make it 17-14 at the break.

The North started to exert its dominance to open the third quarter. North's offensive line began to take control and the running game opened up. A 13-yard touchdown run from Clackamas's Dan Sherrell put the North back up by two scores.

The South would continue to stick around, scoring early in the fourth quarter to make it 24-21. With three minutes left in the game, the South stopped the North one yard short on fourth down and took over on their own 22-yard line.

But the North defense dug in and, on fourth-and-five, the North's Maurice McSwain from Aloha, picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown to all but seal the game.

The South would fumble for the fourth time in the closing seconds of the game and the North ran out the clock.

"The defense really came to play and we were able to get the running game going in the second half," Coppedge said.

Coppedge finished the game completing 6-of-12 passes for 35 yards. The North squad racked up 164 yards rushing in the contest and the defense forced seven turnovers.

Coppedge will attend the University of Oregon next year.

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