2022 Football: Nearly Done
6A Championship bracket, Columbia Cup down to four teams
Oregon’s 2022 football season is almost done, and only the best of the best are still playing. Semifinals for the 6A Championship Bracket and the Columbia Cup are on tap this Friday. Here is a run-down of all the contests.
Columbia Cup Semifinals
North Salem (7-4) vs. Liberty (7-4): After struggling at midseason due to key injuries, the North Salem Vikings are back and healthy. They face a team in Liberty that narrowly nipped Sprague 21-19 in week one.
North’s wing-T offense is anchored by senior running back Josiah Davis, who rushed for nearly 200 yards and four TDs in the Vikings’ decisive 42-8 road victory at Jefferson. The win at Jeff was memorable because of the overall team effort from start to finish. It marked the second straight road win for North in the postseason. The Vikings have hit their stride in the last couple of contests, averaging 38 points per game. They averaged just under 27 points during the regular season.
Liberty started the year at home against Sprague—winning the contest 21-19. It was not the best effort by either team in that game, and the Falcons have steadily improved over the course of the season. They also defeated Jefferson—back in week three—by a margin of 28-6.
In the Columbia Cup quarterfinals last week, Liberty junior running back Tanner Steinbach rushed for 90 yards and scored a touchdown for the Falcons in their 28-18 win over Clackamas at Liberty High School.
North Salem Coach Jeff Flood says Liberty is not a completely unknown quantity for his team.
“We played them at our jamboree (at McMinnville High School in August),” said Flood.
“They are really solid up front, with several big guys. Their quarterback is effective at running their version of the option. We have to be solid on containment because it is hard to defend them all.”
Flood praised Viking defensive coordinator Caleb Singleton and his efforts to match up defenders with the top players on the opposing offense, especially in recent weeks.
North has a game plan to address the defensive scheme they have seen Liberty employ against teams with offensive tendencies similar to the Viking attack.
A real bonus for North is the location of this week’s contest—at a neutral site at Wilsonville High School. The game is slated to begin at 7:00 pm.
“I am happy we don’t have to travel into Portland again—which we have done a couple of times this year,” said a relieved Flood.
“We only had a total of four home games this year, so this (neutral site) is a little better.”
Expect to see a good-sized crowd of North Salem fans in Wilsonville.
Lakeridge (5-6) vs. Westview (6-5): The other half of the Columbia Cup semis features a team with one of the best passing games in all of Oregon, while the other team has one the state’s most effective rushing attacks, featuring one of the very best running backs.
Lakeridge cruised past Oregon City 35-14 last week. Pacers’ QB Ryan Oliver—who threw for over 2100 yards and 24 touchdowns during the regular season—finished with 145 yards through the air with a touchdown for Lakeridge. Oliver also had a pair of rushing TDs for the Pacers.
Westview dominated Sprague in the cold wind at Beaverton. Although Sprague had chances to put points on the board, the Wildcats took advantage of Olympian mistakes to post a 41-0 victory. Westview’s Jordan Fisher, who had nearly 1800 yards and 24 TDs during the regular season—wracked up 337 yards on 34 carries during the game, while recording five of Westview’s six TDs.
The key to victory in this game seems somewhat simple: Westview must limit the Pacer passing attack, while Lakeridge needs to severely restrict the running of Fisher on the Wildcat’s side of the ball.
The neutral site for this game is Hillsboro Stadium, a short distance from Westview High. Lakeridge has a long drive up Highway 217 and down Highway 26 to arrive at the location.
Kickoff is slated for 7:00 pm.
Championship Semi Finals
Three of the four teams in the championship bracket semis had relatively easy paths to the next round last week with impressive wins. The fourth team in—two-time defending state champion Central Catholic—outlasted Jesuit in Oregon’s edition of the “Holy War.”
West Linn (10-1) vs. Central Catholic (10-1): This game pits the state’s highest ranked team against the reigning kings of the hill. The two squads will meet at Oregon City High School—a very short distance from the home field of #1 West Linn.
The Lions are coming off an impressive 56-7 victory over Sherwood. Quarterback Sam Leavitt threw for more than 300 yards and three TDs—and West Linn scored 42 points or more for the eighth straight game.
Central Catholic was the road team in their second-round game at Jesuit. The back and forth contest featured the visiting Rams’ Cade Gehlen, who caught a touchdown pass from Cru Newman, and also ran 68 yards for another TD. There were four lead changes in the game
Central Catholic denied Jesuit one last score in the game, when the Crusaders failed to convert on a fourth down from the CC 17-yard line with 43 seconds remaining, and held on for the 23-20 victory. It is the second straight year the two teams have met in round two of the 6A championship bracket.
Despite Central Catholic’s impressive post-season record the last two years, this game is West Linn’s to lose. The Lions have the more productive offense and a lights-out defense to move themselves to the state title game.
The game at Oregon City’s Pioneer Stadium begins at 7:00 pm.
Tualatin (9-2) vs. Sheldon (11-0): Two of Oregon’s most prolific scoring teams square off Friday night at McNary High School in Keizer, where both teams cruised to easy victories over the McNary Celtics earlier in the season.
Tualatin got off to a fast start in their 53-21 victory over Mountainside. Timberwolves receiver AJ Noland returned a kickoff 85 yards for a TD, and Nassei Lynn recorded a 37-yard pick-six in the first quarter to stun the visiting Mavericks.
T-Wolves quarterback Jack Wagner completed 12 of 17 passes for 172 yards and three touchdowns. Luke Ash caught one of those TD balls, and also ran for a score in the Tualatin rout.
Sheldon’s home victory last week was also decisive. Irish quarterback Brock Thomas ran for four touchdowns, and threw for another, while Sheldon recorded five interceptions on defense, including a pick-six by Special District One defensive player of the year Teitium Tuioti from 22 yards out. The final score was Sheldon 42, Lake Oswego 7.
Lake-O scored its only points of the game on a touchdown late in the second quarter.
The difference in Friday’s contest will be the Sheldon defense, which has allowed seven points or fewer to 10 of 11 opponents on the season. Only top ranked West Linn scored more—in a 36-31 win for the Irish.
The game at McNary High Friday begins at 7:00 pm.