Sherwood to face West Albany in Saturday's title tilt

by: DAN BROOD - THE FIRST TIME -- Sherwood High School senior linebacker Andrew Rice (right) looks to chase down West Albany running back Jake LaCoste when the teams played back in September. The teams will meet again Saturday in the Class 5A state championship game. HILLSBORO — Sure, the Sherwood High School football team has been dominant — extremely dominant — all season long.

And, yes, Sherwood has won 25 games in a row (going 12-0 so far this season) and 50 of their past 51 contests.

But, as they get ready to play their last game of the season, and their final game at the Class 5A level, the Bowmen are determined and they are focused — and, they say, they’re not taking anything for granted.

The Bowmen want to make sure that when they end their season — which will happen Saturday when they take on West Albany in the Class 5A state championship game — they’ll finish up with a victory, and their second straight state championship.

“It would be disappointing if we don’t win,” Sherwood senior running back/defensive back Keegan Lawrence said following the Bowmen’s 57-12 win over Ashland in a Class 5A state playoff semifinal game played last Saturday at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. “Then all of this work would have been for nothing. So we’ll come out fighting hard.”

by: DAN BROOD - READY TO GO -- Sherwood junior lineman C.J. Alley gets (50) fired up prior to the Bowmen's state playoff semifinal win over Ashland.“We don’t want to happen what happened two years ago,” said Sherwood senior lineman Travis Kotowski, referring to the Bowmen’s 14-13 loss to Mountain View in the 2011 state championship game. “We know what it’s like to lose. In eighth grade, we lost the championship game by two points. That devastated us. So we’re going to practice hard — we’re going to treat every practice like it’s our last.”

“We’re to be focused every practice,” Sherwood fullback/linebacker Jake Reimer said. “It’s going to be our last high school game. We’re all excited and we really want this.”

And the Bowmen will have a chance to grab it — their second straight state title and third in the past four seasons — when they face the Bulldogs Saturday in the Class 5A state championship game, which is slated to start at 5:30 p.m. at Hillsboro DAN BROOD - TEAMWORK -- Sherwood senior defensive linemen Jordan Kurahara (left) and Martin Layna celebrate following a stop in the semifinal win over Ashland.

“We’re real excited about that,” Sherwood senior defensive tackle Martin Layna said.

“We’re going to come out and do what we do,” Lawrence said. “This has been a heck of a ride.”

Sherwood and West Albany have already played this season, with the Bowmen getting a 48-0 win in a game played Sept. 6 at Sherwood High School.

Since then, the Bulldogs have won 10 straight games on their way to winning the Mid-Willamette Conference championship. West Albany, who are 11-1 on the season, bested MWC foe Silverton 17-0 in Saturday’s other state semifinal game to earn its spot in the championship.

West Albany is led by senior running back Jake LaCoste (5-foot-11, 200 pounds). For the season, LaCoste, the reigning Class 5A Offensive Player of the Year, has ran for 2,493 yards and 34 touchdowns on 303 carries.

However, the Bowmen defense kept LaCoste in check in the teams’ previous meeting. In that contest, Sherwood limited LaCoste to 70 yards on 22 carries.

It was a performance by the Sherwood defense that cost Bowmen head coach Greg Lawrence his mustache. Lawrence told the Sherwood squad that he’d shave off his mustache if the Bowmen held LaCoste to less than 100 yards on the night.

Senior Cody Lahoda (6-2, 185) is West Albany’s quarterback. For the season, Lahoda has completed 43 of 112 pass attempts for 692 yards and eight touchdowns. Senior Andrew Ketelson (6-0, 170) is West Albany’s leading receiver with 24 catches for 368 yards.

Senior guard Alex Boyd (6-1, 220), a first-team All-Mid-Willamette Conference selection, helps anchor the Bulldogs’ offensive line.

Senior tackle Steely Smith (6-3, 235) and junior tight end Luc LaChappelle (6-1, 205) were both second-team all-conference picks.

by: DAN BROOD - STRONG SUPPORT -- Sherwood High School students cheer on the Bowmen during Saturday's state playoff semifinal game at Autzen Stadium. Sherwood will play West Albany for the state title Saturday. The West Albany defense is led by senior linebacker Gabe Stone (6-0, 200), who was named the Mid-Willamette Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

LaChappelle also was a first-team all-conference pick at linebacker. Senior Matt Soot (5-11, 220) earned first team accolades on the defensive line for the Bulldogs.

West Albany juniors Joey Roos (6-2, 180) and J.T. Valenzuela (5-10, 175) were both tabbed as first-team all-conference defensive backs.

The West Albany defense has wracked up four shutouts on the season. But, as talented as that Bulldog defense will be, it will likely have it hands full going up against the Sherwood offensive attack, which

is scoring at an average of more than 61 points a game while rushing for 467.7 yards a contest.

Keegan Lawrence (6-0, 190) leads the rushing attack. For the season, he has ran for 1,865 yards and 29 touchdowns on 92 carries (a 20.2 yards per carry average).

In the win over West Albany earlier in the season, Lawrence rushed for 143 yards on eight carries with four rushing touchdowns, all coming in the first half. He also had an 80-yard touchdown reception early in the third quarter.

by: DAN BROOD - ACROSS THE LINE -- Sherwood senior Tanner Shadbolt (43) crosses the goal line in the Bowmen's 57-12 semifinal win over Ashland.Senior fullback Mickey Schaefer (6-1, 180) has added 1,041 yards and 15 scores on 64 carries and Reimer (5-11, 210) has 849 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 46 carries.

Bowmen senior quarterback Kevin Larkin (6-3, 190) has completed 40 of 70 pass attempts for 982 yards and 17 touchdowns with just two interceptions.

The Sherwood offensive line is anchored by senior center Cam Theimann (6-2, 220), senior guard Andrew Rice (5-11, 195) and Kotowski (6-2, 250) at tackle. They were first-team All-Northwest Oregon Conference selections this year.

The Sherwood defense is led by Reimer, who was named the NWOC Defensive Player of the Year.

Layna (5-6, 240) at defensive tackle, senior Jordan Kurahara (6-11, 235) at defensive end, Schaefer at linebacker and Lawrence at safety were all first-team all-conference picks.

In addition to all of the talent and the winning tradition that Sherwood boasts, the Bowmen looking to have a few other things going for them heading into Saturday’s title contest — determination and motivation.

by: DAN BROOD - GOOD TIMES -- Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence talks to the Bowmen players and fans following the state playoff win over Ashland.Many of the Sherwood players likely remember two years ago when they bested Mountain View 41-18 in the regular season only to fall to the Cougars in the state title tilt.

“We don’t want to end with a loss, so we’ll be as fired up as ever,” Schaefer said. “We’re going to work hard all week to be ready. If we play a good game, we’ll win.””We’re going to work hard and be ready,” Rice said. “We’re going to prepare for a physical game. That’s what we expect.”

“We want to go out on top,” Sherwood junior tight end/linebacker Zak Taylor said. “We’re going to prepare like we have all season. We’re going to go out and do our job.”

Sherwood and West Albany will both be moving up to the Class 6A level starting in in the 2014-2015 school year.

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