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.
When his starting quarterback was sidelined with a knee injury in the second quarter, Willamette coach Adam Kennybrew tossed his script of offensives plays and put the ball in the hands of receiver Darius Jackson and running back Sam Aguirre.
The result proved brutal for North Eugene, as Willamette overwhelmed the Highlanders 63-21 in a Class 5A Midwestern League game on Friday. The Wolverines (2-2 overall, 1-1 in conference) scored 42 unanswered points. The win snapped Willamette’s two-game losing streak and was despite losing junior quarterback Kosey Mitchell to a right knee injury.
“I told (Mitchell) on the sideline that you guys would have his back,” Kennybrew told his players after the game. “And you did.”
“I had to put our best athlete out there. Really, we didn’t have a backup,” Kennybrew said. “And not having prepared for something like this, the players took the injury and used it as motivation to have our quarterback’s back.”
Jackson took the quarterback role and made off with it. Along with his 170 yards on 11 carries and four rushing TDs, Jackson caught two passes for 82 yards, including a 70-yard TD pass from Mitchell. “I had no idea I was going in as quarterback,” Jackson said. “I heard coach say, ‘Darius, you’re quarterback.’ I was speechless.”
Jackson and Aguirre combined for 401 of Willamette’s 455 rushing yards and accounted for all nine Wolverine touchdowns. Aguirre ran the ball 18 times for 231 yards and four rushing TDs. “I was worried (about losing Mitchell). But I thought about it, and I knew the offensive line was going to work hard,” Aguirre said.
The Highlanders (0-4, 0-1) answered Jackson’s 42-yard TD run in the second quarter with an 80 kick-off return by Aaron Thompson to make the score 21-14 just three minutes before halftime. But Willamette replied with a six-play drive that ended on a 10-yard TD run by Jackson, putting the Wolverines ahead 28-14 at halftime.
The rain held off, but Willamette didn’t. North Eugene ran three plays to start the second half and punted it back to the visiting Wolverines. Two plays later, Jackson ran 16 yards for a TD and a 35-14 lead. On the subsequent kickoff, Willamette recovered the ball after it bounced off a North Eugene player’s leg. That Wolverine possession led to a five play scoring drive, which ended with an Aguirre 6-yard TD run. The score was set up in part by Aguirre’s 52-yard run earlier in the drive.
North Eugene fumbled its next possession, and again Willamette turned it into points, a 9-yard TD run for Aguirre. The lead was 49-14 with 6:12 in the third quarter. The Highlanders did score with less than a minute in the game when quarterback Joey Butterfield finished off a five-play drive with a one-yard TD run. Sophomore running back Zach Haxby had 103 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown in the game.
“We’re not very physical, and we don’t do very well when people come at us,” North Eugene coach Edmund Rivera said. “They are great kids, and they work hard, but having a little nasty helps.”
OTHER PREP SCORES
In the 6A Southwest Conference, North Medford upset defending state champion Sheldon 21-17, as the Irish lost a conference game for the first time since 2008. Roseburg remained undefeated by beating Thurston, 28-14. And South Medford traveled north and dominated South Eugene, 32-7.
In other 5A Midwestern League action, Springfield pounded Eagle Point, 48-0, and Ashland remained undefeated with a 51-21 road victory over Churchill.
Self-sabotage has hindered one team. Physical play by its most recent opponent has jolted the other. Regardless of how they’ve arrived at their current states, one team should break through on Friday, and a losing streak will end when Willamette goes to North Eugene for a 5A Midwest League game.
North Eugene’s Highlanders have yet to win a game in three tries, and the Willamette Wolverines have lost two-straight games since winning 34-20 in Week 1 over Corvallis. Both teams are 0-1 in league play. If you look at their points for and points against statistics, both teams have had similar experiences. North Eugene scored 35 points in Week 1 and scored a total of just 13 in the subsequent two games, while Willamette had 34 that first week and managed just 15 in the following two games. On defense, both teams have allowed about the same number of points, 88 for Willamette and 90 for North Eugene.
While these numbers may be similar, how they’ve gotten where they are is different. “Right now we are simply shooting ourselves in the foot,” North Eugene head coach Edmund Rivera said. “We’re making silly mistakes that are costing us first downs on defense. We’re scrambling when we don’t need to, and we’re running our (receiving) routes wrong.”
At Willamette, Adam Kennybrew is a first-year head coach still working to gain the trust of players who have experienced losing seasons of late. The 54-6 loss to Springfield last week has meant a re-examination of team identity at Willamette. Springfield’s physical dominance of the Wolverines has prompted Kennybrew and his assistants to actively compete with their players in practice to prepare players for more physical games. “There was nothing that prepared me for that (loss),” Kennybrew said. “I have more confidence in out team.”
“(Springfield) came really aggressive and that impacted our level of execution…We’re building up to being a team that isn’t going to let teams come and punch us in the mouth. We’re coming from a different place. This is a place where we can throw the first punch. (Players) have communicated with us that it is new to them…It’s humiliating to have an opponent dominate you on game day. We are going to work harder and be more physical (in practice) than their opponents.”
“Coaches got in (drills) to show them how not to get man-handled. It’s fun for them to see coaches get in the trenches. We have to figure out a way to change it and make it better. We will push kids by getting in there and getting physical with them and talking trash with them like opponents have done. And if they’re not intimidated by coaches, they shouldn’t be intimidated by other teams.”
Springfield Improves to No. 7 in 5A Poll
Springfield’s solid win over Willamette last week had voters for the OregonLive.com Class 5A poll electing to make the Millers the seventh-ranked team in the state. Springfield head coach Dave Heuberger says there may have been some uncertainty about whether his program’s 2012 success was an aberration, but his players are doing a good job of putting to rest any thoughts of it being a fluke. “Some people thought, is it a one year deal? But we’re playing quality football and working hard in the weight room. It isn’t something where we sit back and say we’ve arrived.”
The Millers are 2-1 overall and 1-0 in league heading into their game against Eagle Point (1-2, 0-1). Springfield’s lone loss is to second-ranked Silverton. In it’s two wins, sophomore quarterback Trever Watson has completed 18 of 27 passes for 460 yards and five touchdowns. He’s also carried the ball 11 times for 230 yards. Sophomore receiver Braydon Haas has had a pair of touchdown receptions of 60-or-more yards and been a threat on reverse plays. “Offensively, we’re starting to put the pieces in the right place and getting the ball to the right people,” Heuberger said. “What’s making the difference is that other players are stepping up.”
Churchill Confronts No. 5 Ashland
After picking up its first win of the season last week, Churchill began preparations to play an undefeated Ashland team that became the first Midwestern League team to hand Marist a defeat since the Spartans entered the league in 2010. “We were looking at them on film and this may be the best Ashland team we’ve played…,” Churchill head coach Darrell Mehl said. “It’s nice that we have them here. They beat Marist, and it wasn’t a fluke.”
The 21-7 win over Marist moved Ashland (3-0 overall, 1-0 in league) to No. 5 in the OregonLive.com Class 5A poll. Meanwhile, Churchill improved to 1-2 overall and 1-0 in league. Mehl said in the win quarterback Justin Kearney endured several tough hits, including two late-hit penalties. He finished with 20 completed passes on 30 attempts for 218 yards and one touchdown.
“Most kids would have taken the night off after getting hit a few times,” Mehl said. “But he got back up, got in the huddle and got us going again.”
Mehl says the Ashland quarterback Danial White could be the top quarterback in the league. White is 38-for-58 with 578 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. “They have good receivers and good speed. They have a nice scheme, and they are well-coached. We have our hands full and then some.”
Axemen Shuffling Offensive Line
One team that had its fill last week was South Eugene. The Axemen (2-1, 0-1 in 6A Southwest Conference) lost their first game of the season, 49-7 to Sheldon. South Eugene coach Chris Miller says his team committed seven mental errors in the game’s first 10 plays. “We just caved in and made mental error after mental error. There’s got to be an accountability factor,” Miller said.
South Eugene fumbled the ball twice, threw an interception and had a punt blocked, all of which led to Sheldon scores. A point of improvement is offensive blocking, Miller said, and it will continue to be an issue when South Medford comes to South Eugene Friday. The Panthers are 0-3 and 0-1, but Miller says they’ve played tougher opponents than South Eugene. “They’re a physical team and run old-school stuff, so we’ll need stop the running game,” Miller said. “Defensively, they like to bring pressure.”
The Axemen offensive line provided little protection for quarterback Ray Roundtree against Sheldon. Miller says he’s working to find the right combination of players on the line that he can count on for the remainder of the season. Finding the right center is a big part of this issue. Miller says three different players are vying for the position. “We go as the center goes. When you snap the ball on the ground or over your quarterback’s head, it just ruins the play,” Miller said. “You get to where you look like a circus. You’re in recovery mode, and it’s really just a waste of a down. In week four, you’d like to think you’re beyond that.”
“Hopefully, the team can get stronger as we go.”
Other Notable Performances
Sheldon quarterback Joseph Kuehn had a season-high in touchdown passes with four against South Eugene. In the first three games, Kuehn has thrown just one interception and six TDs. “Joseph played against (South Eugene) like he has all year…very steady,” Sheldon coach Lane Johnson said. OregonLive.com’s third-ranked 6A team, Sheldon (2-1, 1-0) heads to North Medford on Friday to play the Black Tornadoes (2-1, 1-0). “North Medford is much improved. (They have a) shifty QB, hard-running tailback and a solid offensive line,” Johnson said. “Their defense flies around and is very sound.”
In Springfield, Thurston is coming off its first win of the season and quarterback Brendin Quinn leads the Southwest Conference in passing with 878 yards in three games. Quinn had a season-best 337 yards passing in the Colts’s 38-35 win at South Medford. The Colts (1-2, 1-0) will play host to eighth-ranked Roseburg (3-0, 1-0).
From the Bleachers
It took me a moment to figure it out, but I quickly got why Sheldon’s bleachers looked like a casting call for Revenge of the Nerds when the Irish knocked around South Eugene, 49-7 last Friday. Sheldon and South Eugene have this rivalry based on the idea that Sheldon High is all about jockdom and athletic achievement, while South Eugene is more concerned about academics than victories (Last season at South Eugene as the Axemen were again losing to the Irish, South Eugene students consoled themselves with cheers of: “G-P-A! G-P-A!”). Ok, we get it: school priorities appear to differ. At least that would be the easy black and white assumption. It’s all fun and games on Friday night, but here’s hoping for balancing football acumen and classroom excellence.
Tyler Reid hovered like a coach as a group of Churchill running backs warmed up on Morrow Field before last Friday’s season-opening football game at South Eugene. This was to be the start of his senior season at Churchill, but on this night, Reid wore no pads or helmet. A season-ending injury to his left knee earlier this summer relegated the former Lancers running back to the sidelines. Actually, he wasn’t even supposed to be at the game. He had originally been scheduled to have surgery on his right knee the day of the season opener, but Reid postponed the procedure until this Thursday. “I just wanted to come and see the first game,” Reid said before the game. For Reid and Lancers fans, it was a tough one to watch, as Churchill fell to the Axemen, 35-14.
Instead of playing, Reid helped the Churchill coaching staff during pre-game warm-ups. The lost season has Reid serving as a coach. “I’m just trying to make this running back team better, trying to make the players better,” he said. “Right now, I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team before I have to go to surgery.”
Last year, Reid played a game and a half when he injured his left knee. In that short time, he’d amassed 419 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. He didn’t play the remainder of the season and had knee surgery. This summer, while playing 7-on-7 football, another player’s knee collided with his left knee. Initially, his doctor said it wasn’t serious and had Reid begin physical therapy. Thereafter, he consulted with his surgeon, who told him he’d torn the anterior cruciate ligament. “I worked hard to figure out I had to sit out the entire season,” Reid said.
“I’m definitely going insane right now,” he said as he watched his teammates run through their pre-grame drills. “I’m keeping my sanity. I’m trying to get everybody else pumped up. That’s what I can do…It’s just a challenge. I’ve dealt with a lot of challenges in my life. It’s just another obstacle on the road. I can overcome it just like I’ve done with every other obstacle that’s come in my way.”
Reid has been offered the opportunity to be a preferred walk-on at Oregon. His aim now is to rehabilitate and work himself back so he can play Division I football. “I’m going to do whatever I can so I can shine again.”
Reid will miss his team’s second game, a road contest at Liberty, but he says he’ll be back for game three at Eagle Point.
REUNION TIME FOR SOUTH EUGENE’S LEONARD, CHURCHILL COACHES
A family reunion of sorts commenced with hugs and laughter near the 50-yard line at Morrow Field last Friday when the Churchill Lancers played South Eugene. When former Ducks and NFL quarterback Chris Miller accepted the South Eugene head coaching position, he wooed Kevin Leonard from the Churchill coaching staff.
Leonard had been Miller’s defensive coordinator in his previous tenure with South Eugene, but for the last seven years Leonard has been the defensive coordinator for the Lancers. Now an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Axemen, Leonard and his former colleagues at Churchill joked and embraced as the teams ran through their pre-game drills.
“Whenever you move somewhere, it’s a bit awkward because they’re good guys and great coaches,” Leonard said. “But they understand, and they know we’ll always be family. You can tell by the how we interacted.”
WEEK 2: KEY GAMES TO WATCH
Among the big games being played this week in Eugene is the face-off between former Oregon Ducks, now high school head coaches South Eugene’s Chris Miller and Willamette’s Adam Kennybrew. The Wolverines (1-0) will play host to a South Eugene team that is coming off it’s first win in three years (not including win by forfeit in 2011).
Sheldon (1-0) will face its second-straight 2012 6A playoff quarterfinalist in as many games when it welcomes Central Catholic (1-0). The Rams defeated Grant 55-14 last week. The Irish have defeated Central Catholic in their last two meetings, 33-26 last year in non-league game and 18-9 in the 2011 state semifinals. This game will be a big test for Sheldon, the 2012 6A state champion.
WEEK 1 RECAP
If you missed any of the action, here’s a run down of how other Eugene-Springfield area teams fared last week:
Marist High School: The Spartans managed just one touchdown in a 17-7 loss to West Albany. Marist sophomore Brody Cooper connected with Dustin Jones for the lone Spartan touchdown. Cooper completed 11 of 30 passes for 108 yards, a TD and two interceptions. Marist (0-1) stays on the road and will play at Grant (0-1).
North Eugene High School: The Highlanders put points on the board, but they allowed Summit to score eight TDs and leave with a 56-35 road win. North Eugene senior quarterback Joey Butterfield threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score. Highlander junior Dane Stapley caught the TD pass, and he also tossed a TD pass. Adding scores for North Eugene were Chad Gillam (a running TD) and Drew Gerth (a TD reception). A big highlight was a 90-yard kickoff return by North Eugene’s Aaron Thompson. The Highlanders (0-1) will play its second-straight home game against South Albany (0-1).
Sheldon High School: The Irish jumped into the 2013 season with a 35-15 road win over Southridge on the road. Mitchell Herbert led the Irish with rushing three touchdowns. Sheldon had big contributions from Ben Planck (two rushing touchdowns), Kellen Strahm (three receptions for 112 yards), and Yadie Dunmore (three catches for 82 yards and 10 runs for 43 yards). First-year, starting quarterback Joseph Kuehn completed 17 of 24 passes for 330 yards.
Springfield High School: The Millers lost 34-7 on the road at Silverton. The Silver Foxes led Springfield by just 7-0 at halftime, but Silverton added 20-points in the third quarter and the Millers’ only score came in the third, too. Springfield (0-1) welcomes Corvallis (0-1) in week two.
Thurston High School: The Colts fell short in its season opener, a 37-34 loss at home to Aloha. Thurston scored two touchdowns within the last two minutes of the game but was unable to come from behind. Colts quarterback Brendin Quinn completed 25 of 34 passes for 262 yards, a touchdown pass and interception. Quinn also ran for a touchdown. Receiver Carson Cook caught the one touchdown pass and had 47 yards on six catches. Senior running back Roy Jackson scored three touchdowns for Thurston. The Colts (0-1) will travel to West Salem (1-0) this week.
Willamette High School: The Wolverines opened the season with a 34-20 win over Corvallis for first-year head coach and former Oregon running back Adam Kennybrew. Willamette running back Sam Aguirre ran 20 times for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Kosey Mitchell completed 9 of 20 passes for 137 yards and two touchdown passes. Geoff Kastel and Darius Jackson each caught TD passes.
On one occasion a year ago, North Eugene head football coach Edmund Rivera scanned the practice field and counted just 15 varsity players. When coaches talk about low numbers and being short-handed, this was it. The situation required the promotion of freshmen players to practice with varsity. This season, Rivera hints that a number of those 2012 freshmen will see varsity game time as sophomore in 2013. “The numbers are good,” Rivera said. “…A lot of (the varsity team) are first and second year players, so the learning curve is huge.”
A little more than 30 players make up the Highlander roster, and eight starters return this year. North Eugene finished 2-7 overall last year and 2-5 in the 5A Midwestern League. A total of eight sophomores will join 12 seniors and 12 juniors as the Highlanders begin the season with Summit on Friday. “We’re young, but we have some seniors at positions that demand some leadership we’re looking for,” Rivera said. “A lot of kids will play (both offense and defense). I’m hoping we’re a little quicker (than Summit).”
“We’re not very bog overall, but we have a little speed,” he said. “So we’re going to try and get some good matchups in the perimeter. Try to get some guys outside with some speed and go one-on-one.”
Running a spread offense that uses motion, misdirection and bunch formations to hide the football, the Highlanders will have senior Joey Butterfield playing quarterback. Butterfield started as a linebacker last year, but this will be his first season as the starting quarterback. Returning on offense are senior offensive linemen Ryan Hodges, Chad Gilliam, and Andrew Brown; junior offensive lineman Brandon Rasmussen and sophomore running back Zach Haxby. As a freshman, Haxby carried the ball 50 times for 208 yards (4.7 yards per carry). “He’s tough, and he’s a slasher,” Rivera said. “The lineman really enjoy (Haxby) because they don’t have to hold their blocks as long.”
Scoring was a major challenge for North Eugene last year. The Highlanders totaled just seven touchdowns (three rushing and four passing). Junior Dane Stapley is the only returning player with a touchdown to his credit. As a quarterback, Stapley threw a touchdown pass and caught two touchdown passes. This season he will be the No. 2 quarterback and play inside receiver. Also splitting time as inside receivers will be sophomores Brett Snyder and Aaron Thompson. On passing plays to the outside, Butterfield will throw to two 6-foot-2 receivers, junior Drew Gerth and senior Isaiah Alder.
A total of seven defensive starters return for 2013: senior Austin Berg-Ketch (defensive end); Butterfield (linebacker); Brown (linebacker); Gilliam (linebacker); Hodges (defensive tackle), Rasmussen (defensive end); and Stapley (defensive back). North Eugene adds two new senior linebackers: Christian Johnson (who played football as a freshman and sophomore) and Chandler Sand (a first-time football player).
In his team’s first game, Rivera anticipates Summit to pass more than run, and he hopes the Highlanders’ speed will counter the oppositions’ size advantage. “(Defensively), I think our foot-speed is pretty good,” he said. “We like to play man. We like to blitz a lot. We’re going to try to put pressure on the quarterback. We’ve been defending the pass a lot this week (in practice).”
“Now we just have to see if the chemistry is there working together. So far it’s been good. They’ve helped each other, encouraged each other. Now we need to see how they respond to somebody else.”
Assistant Coaches: Aaron Schermerhorn (offensive coordinator); Bryant Engstrom (offensive and defensive line); Kurt Nelson (defensive scout); Derek Bridges (offensive scout); John Scott (special teams).
North Eugene Highlanders 2013 Schedule:
- 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
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.