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Beavers get big outings from Trent Walker, McKenna, Budke, others in important win

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton linebacker Ryan Mendiola and the Beavers beat Sunset to take sole possession of first in Metro.

The standard for the Beaverton High School football program is unwavering from year to year.

Every fall, no matter the personnel, the Beavers want to play well enough that their final game of the regular season is a de facto Metro League championship bout. Head coach Bob Boyer makes no bones about it. Even when schedule flipped years ago and Jesuit became Beaverton's perennial regular season finale foe, the expectation remained in place.

Beaverton doesn't need to settle for "Beaverton School District champ" this year. The Beavers are good enough to beat Jesuit and win Metro outright. They'll have to go through hell to get it. But, if they handle their business next week against crosstown rival Southridge, Beaverton will at least get the shot, which is all it could ask for.

Continuing to strike a great offensive balance while playing fierce, smart down and distance defense, Beaverton beat Sunset 48-34 on Oct. 18 at Sunset High School to become the conference's lone remaining unbeaten team. The Beavers are in sole possession of first place in Metro with two games to go. Beat Southridge next week, stay undefeated in Metro and Beaverton will get a shot at the conference crown the following week at home against Jesuit.

"I don't want to jinx anything but that's been the goal all year," Beaverton three-way star Trent Walker said. "But come Monday we have to get back to work and make sure we don't overlook Southridge."

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton junior Trent Walker scored three touchdowns against Sunset including a 98-yard kickoff return.

Already the Beavers have more wins this year (six) than they did all of last season (four). They're fourth in the 6A power rankings and rising with a chance to truly overturn the conference. It could be a storybook end to the regular season, so long as Beaverton doesn't get caught in a trap game against Southridge, a team that has its own playoff aspirations and will be out to play the role of spoiler.

The Beaver breadwinners who have come up big all year again rose to the challenge in a battle of BSD public schools, both of whom were ranked within the Class 6A power rankings' top-seven and hadn't lost in Metro coming in. Walker took the opening kickoff 98 yards to the house and added eight catches for 106 yards and a score. Whenever Beaverton needed a jolt, a third down conversion or a big, explosive play, Walker answered the bell, as he has all season. Senior quarterback Carson Budke threw for 288 yards, four scores to four different receivers and no interceptions. Senior Parker McKenna caught a six-yard score, rumbled for a 16-yard tug on the ground, led Beaverton in tackles and racked up 97 rushing yards on just 12 carries.

"We've all grown up playing youth football since the sixth grade," Walker said. "Now it's my final year with the seniors and their last season. It's just all clicking and we're all giving each other everything we got."

Sunset entered the contest winners of four of its last five including a statement-sending 37-14 takedown of Aloha last week. And for stretches of the Beaverton game, the Apollos appeared as that same haymaker-throwing unit. Senior quarterback Callum Craig threw for 235 yards and three scores and ran for 95 more. Tight end Connor Stevens caught four passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore running back Caleb Kim rushed for two scores and continued to impress with his mashing, non-stop motor.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset sophomore running back Caleb Kim scored two touchdowns for the Apollos.

Beaverton had firm control of the contest in the second quarter and a 21-6 lead after scoring on its first three possessions and coming up with a fourth-down stop deep inside Beaver territory. But a Beaverton shotgun snap went awry, and Sunset defensive tackle Liam Brown pounced on the pigskin for the blood-stopping fumble recovery at the Beaver 30. A handful of runs later, including an eight-yard Kim surge on third and three, the sophomore punched home a one-yard touchdown. Craig's PAT kick made it 21-13 with 3:40 to go in the second quarter. Going into halftime, despite playing far from its best football, Sunset found itself in a one-score game with a chance to reset at the break.

Yet, Sunset's opening drive of the second half stalled. On 4 and 5 from around midfield. Beaverton sophomore cornerback Kyron Albright knocked down a pass along the left sideline to give the ball back to the Beavers. Subsequently, McKenna grinded out a bucking, spinning, chin strap popping, 16-yard touchdown run through the Apollo second level across the line for six that made it 28-13.

Logan McRae chipped in a rushing touchdown and had a couple of big pass breakups at linebacker. McRae and McKenna have emerged as an emphatic one-two punch in the backfield, one that's given Beaverton a needed ground attack offensively.

"I have to work on my conditioning a little bit, I got pretty winded out there," McKenna said with a laugh. "(McRae) and I are a good balance. He's more of a speedy back and I'm a power back. We complement each other."

Cody Davidson caught another touchdown pass and was solid in pass coverage. But it was the so-called "supporting cast" that impressed Walker the most. Noah Gisvold came up with a big sack in the first half. Cristian Gonzalez caught a slant from Budke in the fourth quarter and galloped 73 yards to the end zone to put the nail in Sunset's coffin. Gavin Fitzhugh was everywhere, picking off a Craig screen pass on one third-quarter drive that led to McRae's touchdown, sacking the slippery Sunset signal-caller on another.

"We brought a lot of pressure, and then when we'd get a stop, we'd have the momentum and continue with it," McKenna said. "It's built energy. We just have to keep that up."

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton linebacker Mason Bloodsaw and the young Beaver linebacking core played big against Sunset.

In the first quarter, on 4 and 7 from the Beaver 13, Beaverton linebacker Mason Bloodsaw deflected a pass in the end zone to turn the ball over on downs. Linebacker Ryan Mendiola wrestled Kim and Craig to the turf on different occasions. Beaverton is blessed with headliners, surely, but it's a deep, talented, up-and-coming group that's getting pivotal contributions from everywhere.

"Our sophomores and the guys you don't usually read about online were great tonight and they've stepped up all year," Walker said. "It just gives all confidence that they're competing and working harder than we'd ever expected."

Sunset actually outgained Beaverton in total yards, compiled more first downs, committed fewer penalties and piled up 210 yards on the ground. The difference in the contest came on the always critical fourth-down conversions. The Apollos converted just two of their five fourth-down attempts, including the 4 and 7 red zone stop in the first quarter. The two other turnover on downs were converted to Beaver touchdowns. After Craig hit Jake Eilers for an 11-yard touchdown catch that brought Sunset within 34-20 with just over 10 minutes to go in the fourth, the Apollos elected to try an onside kick that bounced out of bounds. Three plays later, Budke hit Davidson for a 17-yard score. That score triggered a five-touchdown back-and-forth between the two teams the rest of the way in the fourth.

Sunset is now 4-3 overall and 2-1 in Metro with a showdown upcoming against Jesuit at Cronin Field next week. Beaverton is 6-1 overall, 3-0 in Metro and travels to Southridge next Friday.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior running back Logan McRae ran for a touchdown and helped the Beavers beat Sunset.

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