EUGENE — In the 2014 Friday Night Blitz preview special, the KEZI 9 Sports team looks ahead to the upcoming high school football season. We take you to 12 different Western Oregon high schools, get perspective from the Register-Guard’s Ben Schorzman, and reveal our Friday Night Blitz game of the week live broadcast schedule.
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The Marist Spartans cruised to an easy win over the rebuilding Willamette Wolverines, the Spartan’s second-consecutive blowout win.
All photos are available for purchase.
We’ve got three weeks until high school football teams can begin practicing on Aug. 19 and a week later the season opens on Aug. 30. Nevertheless, football is on the horizon and followers of the local teams in the 5A Midwestern League will want to know what the schedule looks like for the five teams from the Eugene-Springfield area in the eight-team conference.
Complete Local OSAA 5A High School Football Season Schedules:
Churchill Lancers (7-4 overall, 4-3 in league)
- Aug. 30 – at South Eugene
- Sept. 6 – at Liberty
- Sept. 13 – at Eagle Point
- Sept. 20 – Ashland
- Oct. 4 – Willamette
- Oct. 11 – Marist
- Oct. 18 – at North Eugene
- Oct. 25 – Springfield
- Aug. 30 – at West Albany
- Sept. 6 – at Grant
- Sept. 13 – Ashland
- Sept. 20 – Bend
- Sept. 26 – at Willamette
- Oct. 4 – Eagle Point
- Oct. 11 – at Churchill
- Oct. 18 – Springfield
- Oct. 25 – North Eugene
North Eugene Highlanders (2-7, 2-5)
- Aug. 30 – Summit
- Sept. 6 – South Albany
- Sept. 13 – at Hidden Valley
- Sept. 20 – Willamette
- Sept. 27 – at Eagle Point
- Oct. 4 – Ashland
- Oct. 11 – at Springfield
- Oct. 18 – Churchill
- Oct. 25 – at Marist
Springfield Millers (8-3, 6-1)
- Aug. 30 – at Silverton
- Sept. 6 – Corvallis
- Sept. 13 – at Willamette
- Sept. 20 – Eagle Point
- Sept. 27 – at Ashland
- Oct. 4 – Hermiston
- Oct. 11 – North Eugene
- Oct. 18 – at Marist
- Oct. 25 – at Churchill
- Aug. 30 – at Corvallis
- Sept. 6 – South Eugene
- Sept. 13 – Springfield
- Sept. 20 – at North Eugene
- Sept. 26 – Marist
- Oct. 4 – at Churchill
- Oct. 10 – Eagle Point
- Oct. 18 – at Ashland
— Alex Shoemaker, EDN Sports
Lancers Take The Rematch Against Irish
Last Friday’s game definitely lived up to the hype. As was to be expected, this Churchill-Sheldon rematch shared all the excitement of their buzzer-beater match a month ago. Unlike the last time, however, it was the Lancers celebrating at the end with a 75-73 win over the Irish in overtime.
The 17-7 (14-2) Irish and 20-4 (13-3) Lancers have been the best two teams in the Midwestern League, and their two contests have been decided by a total of three points.
Sheldon came away victorious in the first contest, a 62-61 Dillon Miller deep half-court buzzer-beater, but with the Lancers riding the emotions of the home crowd and would not be denied. The Irish had a final possession where they could have tied the game and forced a second overtime, but it wasn’t to be.
“It was a great defensive stand,” said Churchill guard Aaron Ingram about his game-clinching steal. “I saw the ball and grabbed it. Then I just dribbled out the clock. A great team win.”
Ingram finished the contest with 10 points, with most of his contributions coming on assists and defense.
Churchill extended their lead to 15 in the third quarter, and the game appeared to be all but out of reach. However, a 10-0 run by the Irish to start the fourth quarter decimated the Lancers’ lead and the game was suddenly tied 55-55.
“We don’t pay attention to the scoreboard,” said Churchill head coach Kelly Bokn about the shifts in momentum. “Whether we’re up or down, we keep with our game plan. We lost our lead pretty quickly, and the credit goes to Sheldon. But we were able to keep the game close and come out with a W in OT.”
Churchill was led by David Shedrick who had 18 points, as well as 16 from Emmanuel Morgan. Sheldon was led by the 18 points from point guard Dillon Miller and the 16 points from forward Dale Baker.
With the regular season now finished, both the Irish (6A) and Lancers (5A) can work on preparing for the OSAA playoffs, hopefully bringing a state championship back to Eugene.
The Irish graduate eight players after this season including three starters (Miller, guard Joe Bando, and Baker). Churchill only loses two seniors after this year (Ingram and backup Andrew Tupper).
Both teams have legitimate shots of making a deep run in the playoffs.
“I think we can go far,” said Ingram. “Obviously it’s just one day at a time, one practice at a time. We believe in each other. We can go far. We just need to keep practicing and not slow down.”
The coaching staff shares Ingram’s confidence and wants to make sure the team keeps focused on the task at hand.
“We don’t want to look to far ahead of ourselves,” said Bokn. “One game at a time. Anything can happen in any game. We don’t want to be caught off guard. There are a lot of good teams, and we think we can compete with the best.”
Around The Rest Of The League:
Marist Spartans: 13-10
The Spartans have finished their up-and-down season with maybe their most frustrating loss of the season. They lost three of their last four games and suffered a 45-26 blowout loss at Thurston in the finale.
North Eugene Highlanders: 9-14
North’s season is officially over, and the can rest their hats on a nice 59-51 victory over Willamette last Friday. It appeared the Highlanders would push for a playoff spot, but a 3-8 finish to the season put a damper on that.
South Eugene Axemen: 4-20
South’s horrific season is finally over. A 1-5 record over their past six games was actually an improvement on average for the season as a whole. The Axemen fell 81-47 last Friday in their season finale at Grant.
Willamette Wolverines: 8-16
The theme of the Wolverines’ season has been playing where you’re comfortable makes all the difference. Their home record of 4-6 is respectable, while their road record of 2-9 killed their postseason chances. With a young roster, the Wolverines can look to next year.
— Alex Shoemaker, EDN Sports
Generals Conquer Irish At Home, Snapping Sheldon’s Eight Game Streak
After a colossal 15-2 deficit against Grant, Sheldon mounted a huge comeback spanning the rest of the game. Unfortunately for the Irish, it wasn’t enough as they fell just short the 6A powerhouse Generals 59-55 last Friday night.
The Irish started the game incredibly shaky, especially point guard Dillon Miller who scored just three points in the first three quarters. Shots weren’t falling, and careless turnovers led to easy fast break points for Grant. That’s why it looked like the Generals were going to run away with it early.
The game changed midway through the first quarter when Sheldon trailed by 13. Big man Dale Baker (11 points) converted an old-fashioned three point play, and Grant senior Tre Battle was called for a technical foul. Sheldon’s Jordan Alexander then nailed both free throws to cut the deficit to just eight.
Sheldon’s Connor Strahm did not put up his normally stellar numbers. He scored just 11 points, and was off on several shots.
“It was an off night,” said Strahm. “I think everybody was off. We weren’t playing good basketball. We can play better than this.”
The Irish could not stop Grant forward Chris Wells who finished the game with a team high 22 points. He scored the majority of his points in the key, as well as shooting 6-of-8 from the free throw line.
“We can’t get into foul trouble like that,” said Lampe. “They were making their shots and made us pay for putting them on the line. Those are free points.”
Sheldon bounced back on Tuesday with a 76-56 win at home against South Eugene. The Grant defeat was the first and only home loss of the 2011-12 season for the Irish, who finished with a home record of 9-1.
At 17-6, the Irish play their final game at Churchill on Friday night. Look for coverage of that game next Wednesday at Eugene Daily News.
Around The Rim: What’s Up With The Rest Of The Schools
At 19-4, the Lancers are one of the most exciting prep teams in the Eugene area. Churchill has a prefect 8-0 home record this season, with just one game remaining. Churchill won both of their games this past week, blowing out North Eugene 94-54 and Springfield 68-44. They’ll end the regular season with a big playoff test when Sheldon visits on Friday.
The 13-9 Spartans had an up-and-down week, losing 53-49 at Marshfield on Friday but bouncing back with a 61-58 victory over Willamette on Tuesday. Marist’s final game before the postseason is at Thurston on Friday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
North Eugene Highlanders:
The Highlanders’ record has fallen to 8-14 after back-to-back losses to Churchill and Marshfield this past week. North’s final game is Friday night at Willamette with only pride on the line.
South Eugene Axemen:
With a 4-19 record, it’s safe to say that the Axemen have been the worst prep team in the Eugene area. This year, 14 of the Axemen’s 19 losses have been by double digits. Their season comes to a close on Friday at Grant. A win is almost out of the question, but keeping the game close could be a moral victory.
Willamette needed to come away with two wins over the past week, and unfortunately they came up short in both contests. Following a 58-50 loss at Thurston, the Wolverines lost their next game at Marist as well. The Wolverines now sit at 8-15 with their final game at home against North Eugene on Friday.
Miller finished the game with 23 points, and contributed in all facets of the game.At his vital point guard position, essentially deciding the tempo of the entire offense, Miller has been instrumental in the huge surge of the Irish this season.Head coach Ron Lampe is very happy with the play of his senior captain.“Miller has been great,” said Lampe after the game. “He does everything I ask and more. He’s a great team player and we’re lucky to have him.”
The game was close through a quarter and a half when senior guard Sean Bellotti came up with a big block that completely changed the momentum of the game. Bellotti, son of former Oregon head football coach Mike Bellotti, has been a great contributor coming off of the bench.
For the Spartans, their 12-8 record has them in the 5A tournament, but not at a very high seed. With two games this week against Marshfield (Friday) and Willamette (Tuesday), Marist could make a serious push with two likely victories.
Around the Rest of the League:
Churchill bounced back from a disappointing loss to Marshfield and swept their next three games in blowout fashion (margin of 30 points per game). They cruised to winsover Willamette, Thurston, and Marist. The 17-4 Lancers are playoff bound and can rest for the next two weeks before the playoffs. Churchill ranks No. 3 in 5A, and will play North Eugene and Springfield this week.North Eugene Highlanders:
This was another bad week for South as they lost all three of their games. Their 3-18 record and weak strength of schedule has them ranked 38th out of 43 teams in the 6A league.The Axemen will face Springfield and Sheldon this week, and they would do well to win one more game this season for momentum going into the 2012-13 campaign.Willamette Wolverines:
The 8-13 Wolverines are in a similar position as North Eugene. Willamette ranks a disappointing 26th in the 5A rankings, due to their poor OWP (opponent winning percentage).After an 86-41 blowout loss to Churchill on Thursday, the Wolverines bounced back with a much needed win over Marshfield. The Wolverines play at Thurston on Friday and at Marist on Tuesday. They need to win both for playoff hopes and overall pride.Prep Game Of The Week:EDN will be live-blogging again. This time, we’ll be at Sheldon on Friday night, when the Irish face the visting Grant Generals. The game is a potential playoff preview of sorts, so stop by the website around 7pm to catch all the action.
— Alex Shoemaker, EDN
Game Of The Week: Sheldon Vs. Willamette
Irish point guard Connor Strahm was highly instrumental in the win, forcing numerous steals and pushing the ball in fast break situations.
“I was feeling it tonight,” said Strahm. “It was a great team effort. We’re playing really good basketball right now and I like the way we’re playing. This team is well rounded and we work off of each other.”Senior captain Dillon Miller also had a big game, leading the Irish in assists.
Sheldon uses an effective fast-pace offense that has the ability to wear down teams late in contests, as was the case against Willamette. With four of the five Irish starters also playing significant roles on the football team, conditioning is part of their identity.
“We’re fast down the court,” said Strahm. “We can outrun teams and play that way all game long. We don’t tire out. Coach Lampe has us ready to play each game.”
Willamette looked depleted in the second half, losing costly possessions on turnovers or miscommunication. The Wolverines held onto the ball too long on consecutive series in the third quarter, leading to forced shots at the buzzer. “Our defense won us the game,” said Lampe. “We weren’t shooting well in the first half, but stepped it up in the second.”
Sheldon also took care of business on Tuesday night, defeating the Thurston Colts 50-37 at home. The Irish are in fantastic shape to close out the season in the next six games. A deep playoff run seems to be in the works. Their next game is this Thursday at Marist.
As for Willamette, their season has just about run its course. With five games remaining, the Wolverines can hope to close things out on a positive note, and begin working on next year. Their next game is at Churchill on Thursday.One More Note On Sheldon At Marist
The Sheldon/Willamette contest has been selected as EDN’s Prep Game Of The Week. Head over to our website at 7pm on Thursday, and catch all the action on the live blog. Should be a good time.Around the League
The Lancers only had one game this week, a 70-63 loss at Marshfield on Tuesday. The setback brought their record to 14-4. Churchill has lost two of its last three games, and have not had the same look they had earlier in the season.The Lancers will make the postseason, but going in with positive momentum is crucial. Their next game is Thursday night when they host the Willamette Wolverines.
Marist’s week was a perfect representation of their season as a whole. The Spartans lost a 62-48 game at home against an inferior North Eugene squad on Friday night. On Tuesday, however, they bounced back with a big 87-58 win over Springfield.
This team is nearly impossible to figure out, and looks different each time they take the court. Marist may have the toughest week of their season coming up.
They start their stretch on Thursday hosting Sheldon. Two nights later, the Spartans will visit South Eugene. Marist returns home against Churchill this coming Tuesday. The goal should be to win at least two of those three games.
North Eugene Highlanders:
The Highlanders only played one game this week and made it count. They shocked the world with a 62-48 blowout upset over Marist. Their next game is on Thursday at Springfield.
South Eugene Axemen:
Normally winning one of two games in a week isn’t something to cheer about. But for the 3-15 South Eugene Axemen, it is a cause for celebration. After a 67-50 blowout loss at Marshfield on Thursday, the Axemen bounced back with a 39-35 win over Willamette at home.
The win marked South’s first home win of the season, giving the fans something to take from the season. They do have a busy week ahead with there games upcoming, the first of which is a 7pm tip off against Thurston on Thursday.