Dennis, McKenna lead All-Metro League Football selections
All that the Metro League football season was this season: gripping, startling, riveting from week-to-week, give us more of that moving into the future.
There was drama. Feuding. Overtime classics. Games that came down to the last minutes of the fourth quarter. Program revivals. The new kid on the block lasting longer than all but one of its chapter members. And oh yeah, the king of the conference got knocked off by one of the league's least likely upstarts.
Finally, after years of Jesuit bullying everybody and their brother, there was a levelness to the Metro League. Aloha beat Jesuit, ending the Crusaders' seven-year stranglehold on the league. The Warriors split the conference crown with Jesuit and Beaverton. The Beaver went blow-for-blow with the Crusaders in the last week of the season. Mountainside, a team supposedly a year away, might have topped Aloha's upheaval of Jesuit in terms of shock appeal when it upended top-ranked Tigard in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. The Mavericks carried a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter against Barlow in the quarterfinals before ultimately ending their year with a 20-16 loss.
Imagine if both Mountainside and Jesuit made the 6A semis? Jesuit shook off the Aloha setback, earned a share of the conference championship, the second seed in the 6A playoffs and a berth in the semis for the second straight season. Yet that distinction could ultimately be the third-biggest storyline to arise out of this suddenly hard-to-pin-down conference.
How refreshing was this season? It went down like a cool drink of iced tea on a sweltering summer day. For once, you couldn't pencil Jesuit down as the favorites, even in the last week of the year. Heading down the homestretch, Sunset upset Aloha. Beaverton beat Sunset to set up a winner-take-all de facto Metro title tilt against Jesuit, one the Crusaders took as six-time defending champions tend to do. Every week there was something at stake. The last month of the season was a sort of Metro single-elimination tournament. No team was that much better than the next.
That's theatrics. That is what Metro once was at its best and could be once again. The conference's all-league honorees, specifically the first-team list, aligned with the newfound balance of the Metro layout as well. Jesuit finished with a league-high 10 first teamers while Beaverton totaled seven with Mountainside and Sunset each earned four first-team selections. Aloha ended the year with three including Metro Offensive Player of the Year Timmy Dennis.
The senior signal caller spectacularly ended his Warrior tenure, piloting one of the state's most prolific, high-flying offenses. He was the triggerman dicing up Jesuit in the league's biggest upset this decade, spreading the ball out to his wide receivers, making sure everybody got a piece of the pie. Dennis could destroy defenses with his mind, often audibling to the correct play at the line of scrimmage after hours and hours of meticulous film study in the weeks leading up to the games. He could check the Warriors into the right play and then execute it with a super accurate right arm that dropped dime after dime to his wide receivers.
Wilson's favorite and most trusted target was senior wide receiver, Regan Wilson. The star wideout is probably still being slept on by the big decision-makers at the next level. Wilson was the most physically imposing pass catcher in Metro, a tough, athletic, handsy, competitive wide receiver who fought for and won every 50-50 ball in the air and could take the top off a defense with his speed. Wilson, much like his signal caller, was Jesuit's nemesis, reeling in three touchdowns and the game-winning two-point try.
Aloha senior defensive lineman Jay Acuavera earned his second straight first-team All-Metro selection after anchoring an underrated Warrior defense that deserved more shine but often fell into the background because of Aloha' offensive firepower. Acuavera commanded a double team at defensive tackle but still caused chaos with his grown man strength and surprising quickness.
Beaverton senior middle linebacker Parker McKenna was a different kind of animal this season, heading a Beaver defense that teemed with takeaways and deterring defensive methods. McKenna was Metro Defensive Player of the Year after stepping up in huge, impactful way before the season even began. The week before Beaverton's season opener, star linebacker Sandrey Mitberg went down with what ended up being a year-ending knee injury. Mitberg and McKenna were supposed to be a troublesome twosome, 'backers who beasted and feasted at the second level of the defense. But with Mitberg out, McKenna covered for his close friend and then some, piling up tackles, sacks and tackles for a loss all the while providing a menacing, intimidating presence as a blitzer and run stuffer.
Beaverton head coach Bob Boyer was named Metro Coach of the Year after guiding the Beavers to a 7-3 record, a share of the Metro title and a home playoff game in the first round of the 6A playoffs. Beaverton won its first four Metro contests to set up the winner-take-all showdown with Jesuit. Boyer, Beaverton's defensive coordinator, not only helped Beaverton mask Mitberg's absence, but he groomed younger players such as Mason Bloodsaw and Ryan Mendiola into big-time defenders who started and starred all-season long.
McKenna was joined on the first team by senior quarterback Carson Budke, two-way lineman Hector Cazares and two-way perimeter stars Cody Davidson and Trent Walker. Walker was a mismatch on both sides of the ball, a ball-hawking safety on defense with a penchant for takeaways and a slick, quick slot receiver who could gain separation and catch anything thrown his way. Davidson was Steady Eddy, locking down receivers from his cornerback spot while going across the middle for passes few would even attempt to catch at wide receiver. The senior was tough, physical and counted on in the clutch.
Jesuit's cavalcade of two-way stars was primarily made up of seniors. Junior two-way lineman Charlie Pickard earned his first-ever first-team accolades. He was joined by senior running back Kade Wisher, who racked up 2,400 yards on the ground, senior two-way stars Logan Horton and Lucas Christen, senior cornerbacks Campbell Brandt and Seth Welsh and senior offensive lineman Shea Brooks. Whenever Jesuit needed a chunk play or a key first down, it gave the ball to the slippery, speedy Wisher and ran him behind Horton, Brooks, Christen and Pickard who blew opponents off the line of scrimmage and opened up country road-sized lanes to navigate.
Sunset senior defensive lineman Ika Ngauamo might not have had the same gaudy individual stats as McKenna due to his position but he was no less impactful, that's for sure. His lightning feet and karate black-belt hands were captivating to watch in the trenches. Ngauamo was double-teamed on almost every play, yet still found ways to knife into the backfield and wreak pure havoc. He was the instigator in helping Sunset shut down Aloha on the road.
The senior Apollo was joined on the first team by offensive lineman Joe Divine and Gustavo Mendez, multi-year starting mainstays who enabled Sunset to be multiple with its offense. If offensive coordinator Dominic Ferraro saw a soft box, he could run the rock and be confident his trench men would clear the way. If quarterback Callum Craig needed extra time in the pocket to let his receivers get open downfield, Mendez and Divine made sure his jersey went unstained. Sunset junior Connor Stevens, the next in a long line of hard-charging, physically tough linebackers to come out of the Apollo program, was also first-team All-Metro.
By now, you've undoubtedly heard or read about Mountainside's magical run through the 6A postseason. The Mavericks knocked off state title caliber Clackamas, pulled off a stunning upset of top-ranked Tigard and nearly beat Barlow in the quarters. It was a stretch that will have a massive positive ripple effect moving forward into the future for head coach John Mannion and company. Senior safety Carlos Montero and senior defensive end Jontae Allen, both of whom were playing junior varsity football two years ago, were first-team All-Metro as was junior running back EJ Broussard and kicker/punter ace Tyler Dahlback.
Acuavera, Wilson, McKenna, Mendiola, Craig, Broussard and Stevens were also second-team All-Metro on the other side of their aforementioned positions. Aloha junior two-way star Tanner Volk, senior two-way lineman Caleb Soderback-Jones, Aloha senior wide receiver Payton Volk, Beaverton senior linemen Leo Phandouangsy and Kaidin Chapman, Sunset two-way star Nate Archibald, Sunset junior linemen Liam Brown and Kanen Rossi, Mountainside junior linebacker Will Verdine, Mountainside senior offensive lineman Shane Gerber and senior defensive back Yule Schrock, Jesuit senior Jimmy Ray, Southridge senior running back Romel Moreland were each second-team All-Metro.
Montero, Brown, Phandouangsy, Ray, Aloha senior two-way star Drew Fritz, Beaverton junior wide receiver Kyler Graziano, Beaver senior lineman Miguel Solares, Jesuit senior lineman Nick Noonan, Mountainside juniors Andrew Simpson and Landon Sherman, Mountainside seniors Marlon Sawhill-Barrios and Nick Calhoun, Southridge two-way star Zach Slail, Southridge senior Katsuo Steward, Sunset senior Jake Eilers and Sunset junior Tom McMillan were all third-team All-Metro League.
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