Six years, six disappointments.

The Jesuit football team is sick of making it to the altar of the 6A playoffs, whether it’s in the semifinals or the championship game itself. The past six seasons, the Crusaders have come up just short of slipping that title ring on their finger and bringing head coach Ken Potter another championship.

The Crusaders are yearning for a state championship, and if they handle their business like they expect to on Saturday against Canby in the 6A state semifinals at noon at Jeld-Wen Field, Jesuit will get their chance to redeem six years of dissatisfaction.

“This has to be the year,” said senior offensive lineman Mike Miller. “We just have to keep doing our jobs, keep playing and keep grinding. It starts with practice, where we bring it every day. We have a mentality where we just have to keep coming, keep working as hard as we can. I think that’s the biggest thing, is practice, and that transfers to the way we play in the game.”

“We have to focus on us,” added sophomore fullback Mike Petroff. “We can’t worry about all the other distractions. We have to play our game.”

“We have a completely different team this year than last year and the year before,” said senior defensive end Christian Martinek. “People are really stepping up, and making me proud. I feel like we’re going up at the right time.”

Throwback, old-school football fans are in for a treat when Jesuit and Canby do battle. Both teams rely on the ground-and-pound rushing attacks that utilize classic run formations that look like they’re straight out of a 1960’s Army-Navy highlight video with fullbacks, pulling guards and full-house offensive packages.

Neither team tries to fool its opponents with no-huddle, fast-paced, multiple wide receiver formations that are en vogue with today’s football culture.

Canby runs the Wing-T formation, which emphasizes keeping the ball on the ground with multiple ball carriers getting touches from various positions whether it be running back, wide receivers, tight ends, or fullbacks. Despite losing their starting quarterback Timmy Johnson and running back Devon Fortier earlier, the Cougars beat Newberg, and Beaverton in the first two rounds of the 6A playoffs, and upset Sheldon 24-10 in the quarterfinals.

“They’re obviously a great team, beating Sheldon, but I think we have a great chance,” said junior running back Chase Morrison.

After losing to top-ranked Central Catholic 45-31 in September, Jesuit’s won its last eight games, including victories over Lake Oswego and Lakeridge — two teams Canby lost to during the regular season — in the 6A postseason. The Crusaders crushed the Pacers with a 62-33 pasting.

“We know no one can stop us when we’re at our best,” said senior offensive lineman David Brugato. “No one in the state can beat us. We can only beat ourselves. It’s pretty much not letting anyone get in our heads and staying focused during practice. We have to take the same mentality we had against Lakeridge to Canby.”

Senior quarterback Austin Taylor, running backs Noah Kyllo, Dominic Shorter, and Cole Thompson have each been featured as of late in Canby’s offensive scheme. Kyllo ran for 1,079 yards and seven touchdowns. Shorter tacked on 811 yards and nine scores, while Thompson had 539 yards and six touchdowns. Taylor ran for 10 scores and 432 yards.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit's Chase Morrison and the Crusaders take on Canby at noon Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field.

The Crusaders and Cougars lean on industrial-strength defenses for success, too. Jesuit’s front seven with the likes of Petroff, Brugato, Martinek, Henry Mondeaux and Nick Miller is fearsome to say the least. They want nothing more than to not have to worry about spread offenses, zone schemes or slight-of-hand handoffs.

They’re ready to mount up in the trenches and strike whatever’s in front of them.

“We were talking in the locker room after the (Lakeridge) game, and our defense wants to play tonight,” said Martinek. “Our defense just wants to hit again. It’s great to have that energy with all our young guys. Hopefully, we’ll have a better outcome than the past two years.”

“We just have to keep doing the same things we’ve been doing all playoffs,” said senior safety Trent Werner. “We just have to focus on us, watch a lot of film so we know what they’re going to do. It’s the Wing-T so we have do our assignments, and stay on our keys.”

When the game kicks off on Saturday afternoon, Jesuit and Canby want to line up, mano y mano and slug each other in the mouth. It’s going to be a turn-back-the-clock type of contest that could come down to who controls the line of scrimmage, who tackles better, and who plays with more physicality.

“Our defense is going to be ready for that Wing-T,” said sophomore quarterback Eric Restic. “Our offense is just going to back to practice and start grinding again. We’ll work hard, work on all of our plays, and get a good gameplan ready for Canby.”

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