Sherwood clinches its first-ever 5A NW Oregon title
by: Jaime Valdez, Sherwood running back Derek Kotowski runs for 24-yards in the second half of Friday night's game against Wilsonville, a play that eventually set up the the go-ahead touchdown to make the final score 17-14. Kotowski ran 100 yards in the second half.

WILSONVILLE - Though the league may be different, Sherwood made a statement that Bowmen football hasn't changed.

And who better to do it against then rival Wilsonville with the title on the line.

Behind its prided defense and a steady dose of power running, Sherwood bulled past the Wildcats 17-14 to clinch the first-ever Class 5A Northwest Oregon League title in front of a loud, standing-room-only crowd at Wilsonville High School. The No. 3-ranked Bowmen won their sixth straight game, improving to 6-0 in league play (8-1 overall) while handing No. 3 Wilsonville its first loss of the season.

But it didn't come easy.

The Bowmen made two goal-line stands in the first half, had a key third-quarter interception that led to its first touchdown and recovered to regain the lead with four minutes left with a huge 74-yard touchdown drive that ate up half of the clock in the fourth quarter.

'This is the best feeling in the world,' Sherwood running back Derek Kotowski said. 'I haven't felt this way in forever. It was 'Wow'. I'm speechless right now.'

The senior made plenty of noise on the field in the second half, battering the Wildcats' defense with hard-nosed running. After getting just two carries in the first half, Kotowski ran 21 times for 100 yards and the go-ahead touchdown after halftime.

'Derek ran hard and the defense was tremendous,' Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence said. 'With the crowd and the tight score down to the last drive, you couldn't ask for a better football game.'

Sherwood's defense held the Wildcats in check all night, allowing 11 rushing yards on 29 carries and just one first down in the second half.

'It was crazy. We've been fired up since Monday,' Sherwood strong safety Travis Lutes said. 'We were always swarming to the ball.'

The Bowmen did give up one big play, though, and it cost them the lead. Wilsonville running back Carl Sommer took a 10-yard pass from quarterback Tyler Reeves and turned it into a 57-yard touchdown. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior busted through four tackles and rumbled down the Wilsonville sideline to give the Wildcats a 14-10 lead with 10:03 left in the game.

Sherwood answered with a 14-play, 74-yard march to paydirt, converting a pair of fourth downs to do so. The first came on fourth-and-2 from its own 48. Senior quarterback Aaron Czyzewski ran around the left end for seven yards to keep the drive alive.

On the next play, Kotowski got to the right corner, side-stepped a tackler and rumbled 24 yards before being knocked out at the Wilsonville 21.

After a pass was broken up in the end zone, the Bowmen faced fourth-and-7 and Czyzewski scrambled right and checked through all his receivers before finding Kotowski open along the Sherwood sideline for a 12-yard gain.

'I told him in the huddle, 'If you're scrambling, I'll slip out, and look for me',' Kotowski said. 'He found me and that was awesome.'

Three plays later, Kotowski followed a block and bulled into the end zone from six yards out with 3:52 remaining. Brennan Hickok's extra point gave Sherwood a 17-14 lead it would hold.

Wilsonville went three and out on its ensuing possession. Senior cornerback Bijan Tavazoie broke up the first-down pass and Reeves' attempt on second down fell incomplete. The Bowmen pressured Reeves on third down and senior defensive end Spencer Wolfley tripped him up for a loss of five, forcing the Wildcats to punt.

Sherwood did the same with 2:24 left, but Wilsonville was flagged for roughing the kicker and the Bowmen maintained possession. Two plays later, they sealed the victory when senior running back Austin Snow got around the left corner, spun and slipped through a tackle for a 15-yard gain and game-clinching first down.

For a complete story, with more photos and statistics, see the Nov. 2 issue of the Times.

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