Tualatin starts fast in football league-opener
LAKE OSWEGO — Offense.
The Tualatin High School football team, clicking in all three phases of the game, opened Three Rivers League play by rolling to a 37-23 win over Lakeridge in a league opener played Friday at Lakeridge High School.
"We continue to be pretty balanced," Tualatin coach Dan Lever said. "We'll take what you give us on offense. Our defensive staff continues to do a phenomenal job. And our special teams have been a strength. Our average starting field position has be be one of the best in the Three Rivers League."
With the victory, the Timberwolves not only got off to a 1-0 start in league play, but they also improved to 3-0 on the season. Lakeridge saw its overall record evened at 1-1 with the setback.
Tualatin got off to a flying start in Friday's league opener at Lakeridge.
On the game's first offensive play, Tualatin senior running back Lucas Noland, after taking a pitch from junior quarterback Kyle Dernedde, pulled up short of the line of scrimmage and threw downfield to senior receiver Jackson Willig for a 71-yard touchdown pass play and a 7-0 lead.
Then, after Lakeridge short-circuited in Tualatin territory — a recurring problem for the Pacers all night — the Wolves came back with a 27-yard field goal by Dernedde to up their lead to 10-0 at the end of the opening quarter.
Lakeridge answered with a long scoring drive of its own that ended when junior quarterback Charlie Maynes hit junior receiver Andre Martinez with a nine-yard touchdown pass to cut Tualatin's lead to 10-7.
The Pacers' momentum, however, lasted just seconds. Tualatin junior Jake Anderson took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 89 yards for a TD that pushed his team's lead back to 17-7.
The touchdown marked the third straight game that Anderson returned a kickoff for a touchdown (with his TD return against Battle Ground, Wash., in Week 2 being nullified by a penalty).
Still holding the 17-7 lead at halftime, Tualatin pulled away in the second half.
Dernedde connected with Willig on a 24-yard touchdown pass play to up the margin to 24-7 early in the third quarter.
From there, a 25-yard touchdown run by senior Nathan Marx and sophomore Kainoa Sayre's three-yard TD run upped the Timberwolf lead to 37-7.
With Tualatin having junior varsity players on the field, Lakeridge got a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs by sophomore Jalen John to make the final score 37-23.
"Our philosophy is that we want to get the younger kids in there when we can," Lever said.
For the game, Dernedde completed seven of 12 pass attempts for 100 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions. The Wolves added 71 more passing yards on Noland's halfback pass.
Marx led a balanced Tualatin rushing attack with 69 yards on eight carries. Sayre added 67 rushing yards on 12 carries and Dernedde had 37 rushing yards on nine carries.
Willig had two receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Nick Savage had two catches for seven yards. Junior tight end Jalen Hale had one reception for 26 yards, Sayre had one catch for 25 yards and junior Jett Searle had one catch for 13 yards.
For the Tualatin defense, senior Colby Jackson had an interception and seniors Ryan Mitton and Cole Kinman each had a tackle for a loss.
For Lakeridge, Maynes went 16 of 28 passing for 242 yards with one TD and one interception, with Matt Petersen making four catches for 84 yards and Martinez five catches for 76 yards.
John rushed for 105 yards on 15 carries and Nick Hoddevik added 16 carries for 69 rushing yards.
The Wolves will face a much bigger test this Friday, when they host West Linn in a Three Rivers League showdown starting at 7 p.m. at Tualatin High School.
"We'll get to find out who we really are," Lever said. "But all of the pressure is on them. They're expected to beat everyone. We'll put our best foot forward, and see what happens. We live to compete, and compete to win."
West Linn, the defending Class 6A state champion, is 3-0 on the season, notching impressive wins over Oregon City and South Medford before winning 42-21 at Sherwood in its Three Rivers League opener.