— Sam Finley, Sports Editor – EDN
It’s that time of year again. There’s plenty of holiday cheer, unless you’re the poor sap that gets pepper sprayed by an overzealous shopper making the retail rounds. The wonderful sounds of Bing Crosby are often canceled out by the squeaks of a certain Chipmunks’ song. Like any other month, you take the good with the bad, and we’re in the middle of another December.
So why I don’t I save some of my yuletide sarcasm for another column? Preferably, the one I’ll be doing in a couple weeks. (Shameless plug dutifully inserted). In the meantime, here’s a quick wrap up of what happened on the local sporting front.
First off, congratulations to the Lake Oswego Lakers. They really took it to Sheldon, blowing them out 47-14 in the 6A OSAA State Championship. For once, it was the Irish on the other end of a one-sided affair.
The Lakers rolled up 490 yards of total offense, compared to Sheldon’s 216. That’s the main reason why Lake Oswego was able to win their first state football title in the history or their program.
You really do have to tip your hat to their head coach Steve Coury, who has been up there for two decades. The feeling of getting that trophy must be very sweet for him right now.
By the same token, take nothing away from what Sheldon accomplished this year. Lane Johnson’s first season as a head coach was outstanding, and the Irish should be in a position to win a championship or two before he’s through.
Meanwhile, as high school football officially draws to a close, the Ducks got back inside the Mo Center this weekend. In case you just got back from a two week vacation from Mars, Oregon will be playing Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on January 2nd. It’ll be their second trip to Pasadena in the past three years, and they know they have to be ready for the Badgers.
“We’re practicing hard,” said quarterback Darron Thomas. “We’ve got a big game coming up soon. I think we’ve got a little more spark to us this time and we want to come out with a victory.”
A lot has been made about Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, but Oregon will also have to deal with quarterback Russell Wilson. The guy can do it with his arm and his feet.
“I think he’s a very good quarterback,” claimed safety John Boyett. “Number 16 brings a lot to the table. He’s a dual threat, very calm, and is able to make plays when his team needs them.”
While the Ducks are just starting to look at film on the Badgers, they do see a team that is just as impressive on defense as they are on offense.
“They are a hard-hitting, hard-nosed defense,” said running backs coach Gary Campbell. “They have good defensive linemen, adequate linebackers, and their defensive backs really come up and hit. So they’re physical.”
Regardless of what Wisconsin might or might not have, Oregon wants to take it to the next level in this matchup. After losing their last two BCS Bowls, the Pac-12 champions want to end this season on a winning note.
“A loss doesn’t diminish what happened this year,” Campbell explained. “But it takes the true climax away from the whole deal. Getting a bowl like this is important to us, but we want to win when we get there. That’s the next step.”
Moving on to the hardwood, the Oregon men’s basketball team edged Fresno State 74-70 last night at Matt Knight Arena. It was an awesome debut for guard Devoe Joseph, who transferred from Minnesota last season. He led the Ducks with 18 points, including three three-point shots. All in all, not a bad first night for the 6’4 senior from Pickering, Ontario.
“I was very anxious to play,” said Joseph of his performance. “It was a little awkward at first, but then I played the way I like to play. That is, I played with a lot of energy and just got after it.”
The victory propelled Oregon’s overall record to 5-2. Still, it wasn’t an entirely pretty game for the Ducks. They turned the ball over 16 times, and head coach Dana Altman believes there are some things to clean up, especially before Pac-12 play begins later this month.
“We took a took a step in the right direction tonight,” explained Altman. “Devoe hit some big shots, and gave us some breathing room. We beat them on the boards by six (34-28), and that’s a good stat. But when you look at the second chance points, they beat us 26-14. That’s something we’ve got to get turned around.”
Oregon can continue to sharpen their game on Monday night when they play Portland State, and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of improvements are made between now and late December.
It’ll also be intriguing to see how the Portland Trailblazers fare without the services of Brandon Roy. Their franchise player was forced to retire at the age of 27 due to his degenerative knees.
That’s a very unfortunate development. Roy wasn’t only one of the better players in the NBA the past few years, but one of the classiest. The guy was always fun to watch, and he will definitely be missed.
I’d like to say more, but I’m once again hearing the aching sounds of a certain Christmas song. Time to grab my chipmunk mallet.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the bleachers.