Benson sweats out summer

The schools' athletic program will continue after some worries
By Cliff Pfenning,

PORTLAND - For an athletic program that survived plenty of rumors of being cut entirely this summer, Monday’s opening day of conditioning practices was a welcome relief at Benson High School.

Now, the real sweating begins.

Benson’s fall teams, as with all other programs across the state, began non-contact drills Monday heading into one of the hottest forecasts on record. And, they’re happy to deal with it.

"We were all a little bit nervous about what might happen," senior Tariq Walker said Monday. "I'm glad to be on the field again. I'm not worried about the heat, or the season really. I don't know how many guys we might have come out, or what to expect about winning, so it's just go out and play hard and do the best you can. That's what we can focus on."

Benson's football team is set to play an independent schedule - one outside of the Portland Interscholastic League, as it did a year ago, with the goal of returning to PIL league play. Although the school is classified as 6A as with the other PIL schools, it's schedule is made up primarily of Class 5A schools, and other independent teams - Glencoe of Hillsboro is also playing an independent schedule.

Third-year head coach Devarieous Sly-Clay said he felt confident the Techmen would play this fall, in all varsity sports, based on conversations and testimony from coaches to the district in spring. But, he said he wasn't fully given the green light until early July.

"(The district athletic office) pretty much told us they weren't going to cut athletics this year," Sly-Clay said. "But, they didn't say anything about next year.

"They're doing a lot of data collection to see whether athletics works out here, but they're missing a key point in getting input from the kids. It makes a huge difference to a lot of these kids to have athletics at their school. Hopefully, they'll take that into consideration."

Benson dropped football in 2014 due to low numbers, and is slowly bringing it back in spite of not having any kind of feeder program. The PIL is promoting youth football with posters across the community, but it only represents eight of the nine schools - Benson does not have a youth program.

Benson suited up two dozen players for most of its games last year, including a girl who is on the roster again this year as a receiver. The team expects to add an exchange student from Germany when daily doubles begin Aug. 14

They're coming off what could easily be considered a highly successful season - winning three games.

Senior Tyler Phillips, the team's returning quarterback, said the football team is a significant element to his high school experience, especially since he's been involved in athletics since age 3.

"Sports has been such a huge part of my life, it would be a tremendous letdown if it were taken away," said Phillips, who also plays baseball. "Sports teaches you discipline, respect, so many other things. If helps you sort out your time, like for training, like you would for studying for a class.

"I hope we can have a great season, a great experience and get people excited so there's a team for the freshmen and sophomores to play on next year."

Sly-Clay said he anticipates around two dozen players again to be part of the program in two weeks, and is hopeful a letter being sent out to incoming freshmen might bring in enough players for a freshman team. Benson is in a unique situation in that there is such a demand to attend the school that most students are selected through a lottery system. Having a youth program that got a student into the school through athletics could easily be seen as recruiting.

"Benson is a great school, but it's got more than a few things working against it in terms of athletics," he said. "It would be great if there was some way we could get student-athletes here without it being looked at as recruiting."


Sept. 1     Milwaukie (5A)

Sept. 8     Parkrose (5A)

Sept. 15   At Woodburn (5A - independent)

Sept. 22   Fort Vancouver, Wash., 5:30 p.m. Homecoming

Sept. 29   Rainier (3A)

Oct. 6       Heritage, Wash.

Oct. 12     Glencoe (Independent)

Oct. 20     At The Dalles (5A - Independent)

Oct. 27     At Kings Way Christian, Wash.


State contenders start to emerge

Central Catholic's two-year run atop Class 6A appears in jeopardy
Sept. 12, 2015 /

A return to Mt. Hood Conference play might be just what the doctor ordered for two-time defending Class 6A state champion Central Catholic.

After a season-opening 27-14 loss to arch-rival Jesuit, the Rams lost 66-17 to St. Johns Bosco of California and are 0-2 heading into conference play. Central Catholic plays at Oregon City Friday.

Conference rival Centennial appears as a solid threat to rest the conference title from the Rams. The Eagles are 2-0 having dispatched both Beaverton and Aloha of the Metro League. Centennial and Central Catholic meet in Week 4 of the season.

Jesuit is among the 13 teams that won their opening two games. Sherwood impressed with its dominating wins over Grants Pass and Grant. The Bowmen play Tigard in the start of conference play on Friday.


Rams run to another championship

Central Catholic dominates Tigard 49-0 to capture state football title
Dec. 6, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - Central Catholic completed another run to a state football title with a decisive 49-0 victory over Tigard Saturday afternoon.

Sean Dack ran for 133 yards and a score and passed for 154 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Rams, who finished with 596 yards of total offense.

Ronnie Rust ran for two scores and caught one of the Dack's touchdown passes as the Rams completed a seismic season in which they outscored playoff opponents 285-63.

Their lone loss the past two seasons was to St. John Bosco in Bellflower, California during the second week of the season.

"I knew we were prepared with our offense, and with our defense, but I don't think any of us expected 49-0," Rams coach Steve Pyne said afterward. "This was quite a close to the season.

"The run this team has had the past two seasons, I think we have to be in the conversation as the best team in the state's history."

Tigard finished with 24 yards rushing and 175 total for the game. The Tigers reached the Rams' 2 in the second quarter, but failed on fourth and goal and Central Catholic scored in two plays to break the game open.

With the win, the fall high school season came to a close with Central Catholic having won three team titles: boys cross country, boys soccer and football. The school’s volleyball team placed second.

Central Catholic, Tigard head for final

The Rams thrash Sheldon, while Tigard survives battle with West Salem
Nov. 28, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - The Central Catholic football machine plowed through another contender for its state title Friday, earning the Rams a second-straight appearance in the Class 6A championship game.

In the final, they'll play Tigard, which will be a significant underdog when the teams meet, Dec. 6, at Hillsboro Stadium.

Top-ranked Central Catholic dominated No. 4 Sheldon 65-21, while the second-ranked Tigers beat No. 11 West Salem 17-14, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 1:34 left in the game.

The final will be a rematch of a semifinal game from last season the Rams won 83-49. Tigard beat Central Catholic 43-37 in the 2012 quarterfinals, a week before the Tigers lost to eventual champion Lake Oswego.

Sheldon led 14-7 at the end of the first quater when the game turned dramatically in favor of Central Catholic. The Rams outscored Sheldon 51-0 in the next two quarters, with none of its seven touchdown drives lasting more than 2:31. Junior Ronnie Rust ran for four touchdown in the stretch, while senior Tyson Cooper scored twice and finished with three touchdowns in the game.

Central Catholic finished with 449 yards rushing - 236 by Rust.

Tigard reached the final by driving 63 yards in five plays and just 43 seconds for the decisive score on an 8-yard pass from JT Greenough to Brady McGetrick. 

The Tigers ran for 234 yards, getting 132 from Landon Floyd, and 110 from Sam Inos.

West Salem overcame a 10-0 deficit and went ahead on a thrilling 62-yard run by Keegan Hlad, who started the score with a fumble recovery.

The Titans had a golden opportunity to add to their 14-10 lead when they recovered a fumble on the ensuing Tigard possession at the Tigers' 33 yard line, but were unable to move forwards and gave the ball over on downs. Tigard then drove for the go-ahead score.




Central Catholic finally prevails

After 60 years, the Rams win another football title
Dec. 7, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

PORTLAND - Behind a stellar performance from senior Ryan Nall, Central Catholic wiped out 60 years of frustration and won the Class 6A football state title Saturday, 38-28, over metro rival Jesuit at Jeld-Wen Field.

Nall ran for 197 yards and three touchdowns and had an interception on defense to spark the Crusaders, who last won a title in 1953. Nall's performance matched that of Jesuit junior Chase Morrison, who ran for 217 yards and three scores.

The Rams held the Crusaders, who they beat 45-31 in the fourth week of the season, to just one score in the second half.

Central Catholic finished its season at 14-0, while Jesuit was 11-3.

"This is a great win for our school," said Nall, who is headed for Oregon State University. "We have such a long tradition, and people have been waiting a long time for us to win again. I'm glad we could make it happen this year."

Nall racked up his total on just 11 carries, which included scoring runs of 24, 49 and 90 yards. His 24-yarder gave the Rams a 28-21 lead in the third quarter, but Jesuit responded with a 10-play, 58-yard scoring drive that closed with an 8-yard pass fron Eric Restic for Henry Mondeaux to tie the score.

The Rams then moved ahead with a one-play drive, a 47-yard run by Cameron Scarlett for a 35-28 lead. After Nall's interception, Central Catholic drove to the Jesuit 1 before settling for an 18-yard field goal by Emnmett Dooney.


West Albany scores big in 5A finale

The Bulldogs stiffle Sherwood's explosive offense and win 21-20 in overtime
Nov. 30, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - After diving across the goal line for the tying score in the Class 5A final Saturday night, West Albany senior Jake LaCoste decided not to watch the extra point attempt - the kick that would propel him and fellow seniors into school lore.

"I didn't want to look," he said afterward, "so I just listened."

Senior Matt Wiest sent the kick through the uprights and the second-seeded Bulldogs beat top seed and defending champion Sherwood, 21-20, on a glorious fall evening.

LaCoste ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, and the team defense held Sherwood to its season-low in points on the way to the school's third title in seven years. For the seniors, though, it brought the program back to where it was prior to 2010, when the Bulldogs missed the state playoffs entirely.

Sherwood, which beat West Albany 48-0 in Week 2, lost in the final for the second time in three seasons - having lost to Mountain View of Bend 14-13 in 2011. The previous year, the Bowmen beat Marist 26-23 in overtime in the final. Sherwood beat Marist 46-20 in the final last season.

Both West Albany and Sherood finished 12-1, with the loss to the other school. Both programs will move to Class 6A next year.

Sherwood senior Keegan Lawrence ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a touchdown pass. But he lost a fumble inside the Bulldogs' 10 in the closing moments of the game, which then went to overtime tied at 14-all.

Sherwood scored first in overtime on a 15-yard run by Lawrence, but the extra-point attempt didn't get across the offensive line, which allowed West Albany to jump at the opportunity to end the game with a touchdown and extra point.




Imbler outlasts Lowell with defense

The Panthers get enough second-half stops to win 88-76
Nov. 30, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - Leading 64-62 at halftime, Imbler High football coach Lee Lowe knew the key to victory in the Class 1A championship game was simple: defense.

The Panthers already had recorded a safety and stopped five extra-point conversions, but all that hadn't gotten them more than a two-point cushion.

But, the defense responded, and held Lowell to just two scores in the second half and the Imbler offense scored a season-high on the way to a 88-76 victory in the highest-scoring championship game in OSAA history.

Junior Joe Griffin ran for four touchdowns, caught three more scoring passes and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns to lead the Panthers, who scored their season high and finished 12-1.

Lowell continually overcame its miscues with an offense that generated 789 total yards, including three players running for 186 yards or more. But, the extra-point conversions eventually caught up with the Red Devils, who also finished the season at 12-1.

In only five previous title games had one team scored more than 70 points, and the top score was 76 by Cove in 1983. That game ended as a 76-8 win over Valsetz.



Ridgeview snags first team title

The Ravens rally from 17-0 to beat Cottage Grove 50-31 in Class 4A final
Nov. 30, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSBORO - Trailing 17-0 early in the second quarter, the Ridgeview Ravens got the spark they needed on special teams, and used that momentum to win the school's first state title in a team sport in the Class 4A football state title game Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium.

The Ravens got 158 yards and two touchdowns from senior Boomer Fleming, three scoring passes from junior Jacob Johnson and hauled in five interceptions on defense in a 50-31 victory over Cottage Grove.

Junior Tanner Stevens added 114 yards and a touchdown on the ground for No. 4 seed, which opened last year as a second high school in Redmond. The Ravens finished 13-1 overall, with its lone loss at Klamath Union, 14-12, in the second week of the season.

"We were down 17-0 at one point, but after that we won the game 50-14," Ridgeview coach Andy Codding said. "This is the first state football title for Redmond, which has been playing for a long time, but we've only been playing for two years."

Cottage Grove, seeded second, led 31-30 in the third quarter and reached the Ridgeview 2, but a penalty and missed field goal started a disappointing finish that ended with a 99-yard interception return for the game's final points. The Lions finished 11-3, with their other two losses coming in the opening two games.

The Lions did plenty enough to win, racking up 588 yards of total offense and 35 first downs. Senior Brandon Boxberger had 178 yards rushing and senior Scotty Hitner threw for 345 yards and ran for three scores. But, the five interceptions proved to be the difference - all five coming in Ridgeview territory, including one in the end zone with the Ravens leading 38-31 in the fourth quarter.


It's football championship week

Five title games are scheduled for Saturday
Nov. 25, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

The annual close to the fall athletic season for high schools begins Saturday with five football state championship games set for Hillsboro Stadium and Summit High School in Bend.

Among the games, only one defending champion is involved, while three schools will be looking to win a title for the first time.

In Class 6A, both games will be played at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, with the two winners returning for the final the following week.



Sherwood is playing for the title for the fourth consecutive year, and won two of the previous three games, including last year. The Bowmen have given up just 19 points in three playoff wins.

West Albany won 5A titles in 2007-08 and is the second seed this year. Game time is 5:30 p.m. at Hillsboro Stadium.


A new champion - with vastly different backgrounds - will be crowned when the teams play at Hillsboro Stadium at 11 a.m.

Cottage Grove entered this year having not won a playoff game since 2006, and had not reached the semifinals since 1945. Its quarterfinal and semifinal wins were by a combined seven points.

Ridgeview of Redmond has been a school for just two years, having split off from Redmond last year. Its three playoff wins have been by an average of 22 points.


Nyssa is back in the final for the first time since 2006, when it capped a two-year run as champion. This year's squad beat defending champion Dayton in the semifinals.

Cascade Christian of Medford is in the final for the second consecutive year, having played in from the No. 3 seed. The title game is set for Summit High at 2:30 p.m.


Regis and Grant Union are schedule to battle for another title each at 11 a.m. at Summit High.

Regis is fifth overall in the state in terms of program victories with 57. Grant Union will play for its third title, with the first coming in 1943. It also won in 2008.


Top-seeded Lowell has scored 56, 60 and 66 points in its three wins and enters the final looking for its first title when it meets Imbler at Hillsboro Stadium at 2:15 p.m.

The Red Devils reached the playoffs in 1949, but hadn't been to a semifinal before last year.

Since the expansion to six classes, Imbler is one of the most successful schools in the state with 15 wins, including the 2008 title.




Jesuit blasts into semifinals

Crusaders score non-stop in 62-33 win over Lakeridge
Nov. 22, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

PORTLAND - The football machine at Jesuit High chewed up another opponent Friday night, and reached the semifinals of the OSAA Class 6A playoffs for the 16th time in front of a large, cold home crowd.

With Chase Morrison powering the ground game, Jesuit beat Lakeridge 62-33 in the playoff quarterfinals. The win advanced the program to the semifinals for the sixth straight year.

In the semis, the Crusaders will face the upstart Canby Cougars, who beat defending champion Sheldon in Eugene 24-17.

The loss ended a thriling season for the Pacers, who hadn't played into the quarterfinals since 1998, and hadn't reached the semifinals since 1994. The school won the state title in 1987.

In other 6A playoff games, Central Catholic beat Clackamas 42-7, and Tigard beat North Medford 42-0 to reach the semifinals for the second year in a row.



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