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Lions look to beat Mustangs for third year in a row in Northwest Oregon Conference opener

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - From left, senior lineman Dylan Lobby (56), sophomore lineman Jayden Smith (55), senior quarterback Chase Parkhurst (3) and junior running back Shawn Lee (5) are ready to get rolling in the Lions' Northwest Oregon Conference opener at Milwaukie on Friday.SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Lions senior running back Cody Leanna (27), with help from sophomore tight end Tanner McTeigue (14) and sophomore lineman Alden Finch (52), eludes Scappoose tacklers.SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Lions junior Isaiah Bettencourt (22) rides a block from senior lineman Robert Landreth (53).

Into Northwest Oregon Conference play roll the Lions, where anything can happen.

After facing Hood River Valley's second-best Class 5A defense and Scappoose's top Class 4A offense, St. Helens (0-2 overall) can beat Milwaukie (1-0) for the third year in a row and for the sixth time since the Mustangs came down from Class 6A in 2010, this time on the road at 7 p.m Friday.

"I think, after playing two good teams, we're excited to finally see how much we've changed since before the [Liberty] Jamboree [Aug. 25 at Liberty High School in Hillsboro]," Lions junior lineman and captain Daniel Suon said. "I feel that after facing really good teams, it gave a good look to our players on how to handle the adversity, especially to the younger guys playing their first varsity games as sophomores or even juniors."

Milwaukie and No. 9 Dallas (which has pitched two shutouts) are the last two Class 5A teams yet to give up a point: The Mustangs' Sept. 1 season opener at home against Class 6A Benson was called off, and they blanked visiting Woodburn 46-0 last week.

The Lions would delight in being the first to lay points and a loss on Milwaukie, and their head-to-heads are usually routs one way or the other: When St. Helens beats the Mustangs, it's by an average of 39 points; when Milwaukie wins, it's by 23 points per.

"It's going to be a good game," St. Helens senior running back, linebacker and captain Cody Leanna said. "We came more together as a team through the week and had a strong week of practice, and we are ready for the Mustangs. We are a younger team -- not many seniors compared to last year -- but the seniors know what have to do this season and we put everything we've got into this season to make it something to remember."

The home team has won six of seven in the series, so Milwaukie's all-conference senior linebackers and captains Chazz Amundson (6-foot-2, 205 pounds), Donavan Wah (6-2, 210) and Noah Ramirez (6-0, 240) will hope to continue the trend.

Amundson sprinted to first-quarter touchdowns of 80 and 39 yards last week, Ramirez reeled off scoring runs of 16 and 44 yards, and senior Jacob Sanders (5-10, 170) galloped 36 yards to daylight.

"I'm really excited to see how our team handles their downhill run and powerful offense," Lions senior lineman/kicker and captain Caleb Carter said. "After our two tough losses, we need to fix our mental mistakes and move forward as a team to improve. This is also a big opportunity for us to come out with a win."

Wah helped the Mustangs score on an early blocked punt against Woodburn and caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Grey Andreasen-VanOtten (6-1, 180) in the third.

"We're excited to be physical, fix our mistakes and execute," St. Helens senior quarterback Chase Parkhurst said. "Milwaukie is a much-improved team, and we'll be ready."

ST. HELENS AT MILWAUKIE

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Breaking through: The Lions can rout the Mustangs for the sixth time in their eight-year series

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