West Linn rolls again, speeds past Sherwood 42-21
Week by week, game by game and play by play, the West Linn football team is proving itself against the state's best teams yet again.
The Lions did it once more on Friday, stepping up to beat Sherwood 42-21 at Sherwood High School in both teams' Three Rivers League opener.
"Both sides of the ball played really well," said West Linn senior wide receiver Qawi Ntsasa, who made seven catches for 156 yards and scored two touchdowns on Friday. "Sherwood's a tough team and it was really important for us to come out and start out our league opener really strong so it was a good win."
"We knew that … the South Medford win was a big deal but we couldn't take Sherwood lightly," said West Linn junior quarterback Ethan Long, who completed 11 of 13 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns. "They're a good football program. They've got a tough offense, but our defense delivered tonight and we just played well."
With the win — the program's 17th straight — West Linn improved to 1-0 in Three Rivers League play and 3-0 overall, while the Bowmen lost for the second straight time and fell to 0-1 in TRL play and 1-2 overall.
"It was a tough game, but they're good — they're West Linn, they're obviously good," said Sherwood senior tight end/defensive end Sterling Goldstein, who made a key fourth-down catch to set up his team's first touchdown. "We expected it to be a fight and we came out and expected to punch them right in the mouth, but they punched us right in the mouth — it was a hard-fought game."
"Last week against Camas, that was the same (thing)," said junior safety Jacob Reuter. "We wanted to eliminate the big plays but we weren't able to do that. That's what their offense wants to do … they don't want to be throwing 'out' routes consistently through the game — they want to get the deep ball on us and they were able to do that today."
West Linn made its case right from the game's first play, with senior James Marshall taking Kaedin Steindorf's game-opening kickoff at the seven-yard line, heading up the middle of the field, then cutting to the left sideline and racing home with a 93-yard touchdown just 15 seconds into the game.
"Our kick return team did a great job," Long said. "James Marshall had a lane and he just did what he was supposed to do."
The West Linn defense did its part next, forcing a three-and-out and setting the table for the team's next score. Long and Ntsasa played big roles on the ensuing series, connecting for a 51-yard completion to the Sherwood one-yard line, and Long sneaking it into the end zone on the next play for a 14-0 lead just 4:14 into the contest.
The Lions' "D" came through again on Sherwood's next possession, forcing a Carsen Christensen fumble that senior linebacker Zack Huffstutter recovered at the Sherwood 48.
"We play that Wing-T every year in practice and you've just got to read your keys," Huffstutter said. "The film room is really important against Sherwood. You've just got to do your job. That was the big stress this week in practice."
The Lions scored again four plays later, driving 48 yards to score and make it 21-0, with Long hitting Ntsasa for 22 yards and Ntsasa scoring from 14 yards out on the next play with 4:18 to go in the first quarter.
"I just do my job like everyone else does," Ntsasa said. "My receivers and line did a great job blocking, and without those blocks, I'm not able to make those plays so good job to them."
After a stop by each team, Sherwood finally got on the scoreboard, marching 83 yards in 18 plays and taking 9:04 off the clock, capping its drive with a one-yard dive by quarterback Wyatt Zettlemoyer late in the second period to make it 21-7.
Junior running back Ian Stormont had six carries for 23 yards on the drive.
"Those (drives) are what Bowmen football is about," said Stormont, who finished with 12 carries for 73 yards. "It's the long drives, the power football and wearing our opponents down. I think we just need to keep working on that even more."
West Linn, however, answered in just three plays. Senior running back Ahmir McGee broke a 48-yard run on the first play, added four more on the second, then grabbed a Long pass in the right flat and took it 13 yards to score for a 28-7 lead at the half.
The West Linn defense forced a quick punt to open the second half, and the Lions' offense responded with an 80-yard scoring drive capped by Dawson Jolley's 44-yard lightning bolt run over left tackle for a touchdown and a 35-7 lead with 6:50 to go in the quarter.
Sherwood came back with its second ground-pounding, clock-eating scoring drive, advancing 80 yards in 18 plays and taking 7:47 off the clock before Zach Jenkins went around right end to score from six yards out and make it 35-14.
Zettlemoyer went 3 for 4 passing for 33 yards on the drive, while Ben Baxter rushed four times for 23 yards.
Sherwood recovered the ensuing onside kick but failed to convert, and after that, West Linn scored in just two plays, with Long hitting Ntsasa for 35 yards, then finding him again for 26 yards, the TD and a 42-14 lead.
The Bowmen tacked on their final score at the end of a 77-yard drive, with Stormont powering into the end zone from one yard out for the final 42-21 margin with 2:36 left on the clock.
For the game, Jolley led West Linn rushers with 48 yards on two carries. For Sherwood, Zettlemoyer went 11 of 18 passing for 81 yards, with Michael Klapp making four catches for 23 yards, Zane Sands one for 25, and Jenkins adding 58 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Next week, West Linn plays at Tualatin at 7 p.m., while Sherwood plays at Lakeridge at 7 p.m.
To see a complete photo gallery from this game, click here.