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Tigard and Horizon will open up at home while Tualatin and Sherwood take to the road

by: DAN BROOD - REMATCH -- Tualatin receiver Nick Hines (16) looks for running room in last year's season-opener against Crater. The Wolves will travel to Central Point to face the Comets on Friday. TIGARD — A brand new football season is about to start.

But, as it gets ready to kick off that brand new season, the Tigard High School football team is preparing for an old, familiar opponent.

The Tigers will open their season Friday when they face Canby in a non-league game slated to start at 7 p.m. at Tigard High School. Friday’s game will mark the third time the Tigers and Cougars have clashed in the past 12 months.

“Isn’t that crazy,” Tigard coach Craig Ruecker said with a laugh.

Tualatin, Sherwood and Horizon Christian will also open their seasons on Friday. Tualatin will play at Crater of Central Point in a non-league game starting at 7 p.m., defending Class 5A state champion Sherwood will play at Milwaukie in a Northwest Oregon Conference opener starting at 7 p.m. and Horizon Christian will host Portland Christian in a 7 p.m. non-league tilt.

“Our kids are looking forward to it and they’re ready to go,” Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence said.

Tigard also is ready to get its season up and running.

“We went through the springtime, having fun and getting excited,” Ruecker said. “We went through the beach retreat, workouts, passing league and weightlifting, building camaraderie. We’ve been practicing hard, against ourselves, and now it’s time. We’re very excited to get the season going.”

Tigard and Canby met twice last year. In the 2012 season-opener, the Tigers scored a 42-13 win at Canby. The teams then met again in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs, with the Tigers posting a 42-14 victory in a game played at Tigard High School.

Tigard, the defending Pacific Conference champion, went on to finish the season with a final record of 11-2. Canby finished second in the Three Rivers League a year ago and had a final overall record of 6-5.

by: DAN BROOD - OPENING NIGHT -- Tigard senior A.J. Hotchkins, and his Tiger teammates, will host Canby in Friday's season-opening contest. The Cougars have a lot of strong returnees from last year’s team.

“They return almost all of their offensive and defensive linemen,” Ruecker said. “We’re fortunate to get the chance to play a quality opponent in Canby.”

Tigard senior Jett Even will open his second season as the Tigers’ starting quarterback. Senior running back Manu Rasmussen is another key returnee. Rasmussen rushed for 141 yards on 14 carries in last year’s playoff victory over the Cougars.

Tualatin will open its season with a 256-mile road trip to take on Crater. But that’s OK with the Timberwolves.

“We’re looking forward to getting on the road,” Tualatin coach Rob Hastin said. “It will be a great road trip.”

The Timberwolves have traveled to the southern part of the state for early-season play before, as they played at Grants Pass a few years ago.

“I think that’s good for the team,” Hastin said.

Tualatin and Crater also met in last year’s season-opener, with the Wolves getting a 12-8 come-from-behind win in a game played at Tualatin High School.

The Wolves are expecting another spirited battle this year.

“Crater has a very athletic team,” Hastin said.

For Tualatin, quarterback Brandon Shroyer and receiver Nick Hines — who were two of the heroes in last year’s victory over the Comets — are back to start their senior seasons. Last year, Shroyer and Hines teamed up for a 60-yard go-ahead touchdown pass play coming with 2 minutes and 29 seconds left in the game. Shroyer, making his starting quarterback debut, completed 12 of 18 pass attempts for 194 yards in the contest.

Tualatin finished the 2012 season with a final overall record of 9-2. Crater went 4-6 in 2012.

Sherwood brings a 29-game regular-season winning streak into Friday’s season-opener at Milwaukie.

Last year, the Bowmen opened the season by scoring a 56-6 home win over the Mustangs. Sherwood went on to go 13-0 on the season, beating Marist 46-20 in the Class 5A state championship game.

Milwaukie finished the 2012 season with a third-place finish in the NWOC and a final overall mark of 7-3.

The Mustangs also have a new coach this year in Jeff Thomas.

Meanwhile, Sherwood senior Kevin Larkin will make his starting quarterback debut in Friday’s game.

Horizon Christian will face a formidable foe to open the season, as it will play a Portland Christian squad that reached the Class 2A state championship contest on its way to going 12-2 on the season.

“We’re expecting a tough game in our opener,” Horizon Christian coach George Crace said. “In terms of numbers, they’re bigger than us.”

Horizon Christian went 7-3 in the 2012 season.

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