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Lions eager to take down state runner-up Wildcats on Friday for first time since 2009

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Junior running back Isaiah Bettencourt (22), senior lineman Robert Landreth and the Lions will see Wilsonville for the first time since their 38-35 Class 5A state quarterfinal loss last year.

The Lions and Class 5A state runner-up Wildcats will claw it out on Friday at Doc Ackerson Stadium.

St. Helens (0-3 overall, 0-1 Northwest Oregon Conference) is eager to get going against visiting Wilsonville (2-1, 1-0) at 7 p.m.

The Wildcats score Class 5A's fifth-best average of 37 points per game and give up 16 points per outing after falling 35-7 at home to Class 6A South Medford in their opener, whipping Class 6A guest Franklin 52-0 the next week and beating host Hillsboro 52-14 on Friday, Sept. 15.

"We're anticipating a high-powered offense with a sound defense, but at this point we are ready to shock the world with what we can do on Friday," Lions senior quarterback Chase Parkhurst said.

Wilsonville has beaten St. Helens eight times in a row -- most recently in last year's 38-35 Class 5A state quarterfinal comeback, in which the Lions led 28-6 at halftime -- by an average of 41-24 since St. Helens won 28-13 at home on Oct. 23, 2009.

The Lions find themselves striving to avoid their first 0-4 start since 2014.

"We now move to Wilsonville and battle every play because we are brothers and don't back down from any competition," St. Helens senior running back, linebacker and captain Cody Leanna said.

The Wildcats feature all-state seniors Austin Kness (a 5-foot-11, 180-pound kicker and an all-Northwest Oregon defensive back) and Draco Bynum (a 6-foot-6, 265 defensive tackle-turned-tight end and a Northwest Oregon Lineman of the Year).

Fernando Salazar (a 6-foot-2, 275 senior guard), AJ Burkhead (a 6-foot-5, 225 senior defensive lineman), Manav Raghubansh (a 5-foot-10, 190 senior linebacker) and Cooper Mootz (a 5-foot-9, 165 junior running back) are all-conference picks.

Nathan Overholt (a 6-foot-3, 190 junior quarterback) leads Wilsonville's passing offense with 325 yards, four touchdowns and an interception, and has darted for 90 yards and two scores.

Mootz is the leading rusher with 255 yards and three end zone runs.

Junior wideouts Sam Westing (6-foot, 170) and Jonah Gomez (5-foot-10, 170) are the top receivers with 127 and 90 respective yards and a pair of touchdowns each.

Raghubansh and Bynum lead tacklers with 19 and 17 respective stops, Burkhead is the top pass rusher with three sacks, and Raghubansh and junior Trevor Antonson (a 5-foot-10, 165 junior defensive back) both have an interception.

WILSONVILLE AT ST. HELENS

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday

OUT FOR REDEMPTION: Lions can avenge last year's 38-35 Class 5A state quarterfinal loss to the Wildcats

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