Metro League to be well represented at Les Schwab Bowl
Come Saturday evening, eight of the Metro League's best seniors will suit up in their final high school football game with the chance to say they ended their careers on a winning note.
What's better if all eight of the Metro athletes — counterparts and fierce opponents throughout the years in waging battles for Beaverton-area turf, — will be playing together for the North squad in the Les Schwab Tires Bowl on June 15 at Hillsboro Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Five of the seven Metro schools will be represented: Aloha, Beaverton, Jesuit, Southridge and Sunset, bringing archrivals, bitter feelings and all sorts of past trash talk to the North side. However, the week leading up to the actual game has been known to break down barriers and melt any icy, ill will toward one another. The teams are housed at Pacific University and practice twice a day in preparation for the game. Throughout the week, players go out into the community with various nightly activities and service projects including hospital visits and coaching/mentoring at-risk youths. It's conventional that these once adversaries find they have far more in common than they do separately. Hanging out in the dorms away from practice and helping the less fortunate and tends to bring these players together. Oftentimes they become friends for life. To this day on social media there are former LSB participants who still rep whatever side they played on with throwback hashtags, old pictures and inside jokes. Every player that's ended the week on the Hillsboro Stadium turf comes away with nothing but glowing praise, raving about their experiences, taking pictures with their Metro foes. The action on the field is no joke either. It's full-padded, no-holds-barred, full contact football. For some, it's the last time to ever put on the pads. For others, it's a chance to hit and get hit again before heading off to the collegiate level with summer workouts and training camp right around the corner.
Sunset, Southridge and Aloha each have two players in the bowl game, tied for most in Metro. Sunset's Kadin Williams and Marve Nyembo were huge components of the Apollos' second-place finish in Metro and a second-round appearance in the Class 6A state playoffs. Both were difference makers on each side of the football, with Williams toting the rock at running back and leading Sunset in tackles. Nyembo was a big-play threat at tight end and defensive end. Williams is an entertaining runner to watch, a back who gets better as the game wears on, displays patience in letting his blocks unfold in front of him and finishes runs with his pads, never going down at first contact. Nyembo can cause chaos for an opposing quarterback is always a threat to house a takeaway.
Aloha defensive back/wide receiver Cesar Soto was a two-time varsity letterman at Aloha High School. In 2017 he earned all-conference honorable mention as a defensive back. In 2018 he earned first team all-conference. Elijah Vinzant was a two-time varsity letterman in football at Aloha High School. He was named second team all-conference as a defensive lineman in 2018 and honorable mention all-conference as an outside linebacker in 2017.
Southridge's duo of outside linebacker/tight end Kade Hustler and wide receiver/defensive back Keyvaun Eady are two of the program's all-timers, stars who morphed into greats as their careers developed. Hustler was named all-Metro at four different positions throughout his career. He was as versatile a weapon as you'll find at the high school level, a selfless player who did what was best for the team, not necessarily his own collegiate prospects. Eady was first-team all-Metro on both sides of the football as a junior and a senior, displaying explosive play ability, toughness and lead-by-example leadership.
Jesuit senior linebacker Zach Carr was a three-year varsity letterman for Ken Potter and the Crusaders. For his outstanding senior season as a linebacker, Carr was named Metro League Defensive Player of the Year, first team all-conference and first team all-state. Carr was a one-man wrecking ball who stood amongst a host of hard-nosed, blitz-hungry Crusader defenders. Jesuit's front seven was old school nasty from the way they hit to their attire as evidenced by Carr's 1980s-like neck roll that popped out of his shoulder pads behind his helmet. It wouldn't be a shock if Carr is in the mix for Defensive Most Valuable Player honors by the end of the bowl game on Saturday night.
Beaverton wide receiver/defensive back Ethan Wilborn was the epitome of a home run threat. Throw him the ball anywhere: on a bubble screen, a post, an out, a go route, whatever offensive coordinator Jimmy Joyce drew up and Wilborn could make something huge happen. Against Westview, on a field full of one-day Division One skill players, Wilborn was the best player, wreaking havoc at wide receiver, punt returner and kick returner. It should be fun watching Eady and Wilborn team up at wide receiver and try to make life a living hell for the South secondary. Each can take the football the distance at the drop of a hat or make spectacular, leaping, contested catches against tight coverage. If they can develop a quick connection with the North's signal callers in the week leading up to Saturday, watch out.
Sunset head coach Damien Merrick will be part of the North coaching staff as will Jesuit assistant coach Brian Martinek.
2019 marks the 72nd anniversary of the annual North vs. South High School All-Star football game and features the top graduating seniors from Oregon high schools. Ticket prices: Reserved Premiere: $20, reserved adult: $15, and reserved student: $12. General admission adult: $10, general admission student (four-to-18 years old) /senior (65+) are $8. Kids under the age of three get in free.
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