You never want to lose against Gresham — that was the mindset for Barlow Bruins football as they hosted their cross-town rivals last week in a Mt. Hood Conference showdown.
The game was special on many accounts. It was one of the first times fans could sit and watch the Bruins in person, and Barlow High leadership shared guest tickets to allow Gresham parents to attend as well. It was the Bruins' Senior Night, with 10 athletes being honored before kickoff alongside their loved ones. And it was a game that four months ago no one expected to be played with the pandemic shutting down high school sports.
"The community and kids all fought to be back out here, so every game this season is important to this group," Bruins coach Chris Koenig said.
But, despite all that, the Bruins didn't need much extra motivation to come out energized for the latest chapter in a storied rivalry.
"It means the world to all of us on this team to win a game against the Gophers," said Bruins senior quarterback Cyle Calcagno.
Barlow (2-2) routed Gresham (1-3) Saturday afternoon, March 27. The Bruins took control early and never looked back, claiming a 28-0 victory in a convincing performance in all facets of the game.
"It feels great to beat Gresham in my last time playing them as a senior," Calcagno said. "We never want to see them score, so we were happy to get that goose egg."
The dominating performance began just 14 seconds into the game, as Yamato Uptegrove provided a big spark on the opening kickoff. The junior ran it 80 yards untouched to score the opening touchdown for the Bruins.
"Love to see a kick return like that to start the game," Koenig said. "We blocked it well and Yamato hit the lane — our special teams had one of their best games of the season."
Barlow likes to build around its running game, and early on against Gresham several players got involved by ripping off big chunks on the ground. Seniors Reece McKenzie and Carter Baggs, junior Jake Fay and senior Calcagno all had strong showings carrying the ball.
Much of that success can be credited to the Barlow offensive line.
"I'm really proud of (the line), they are growing stronger every week," said Calcagno, who credited them for opening much of the space for the runners.
It was that running attack that seemed to wear on the vaunted Gresham defense, which came into the contest only allowing a nudge over 13 points a game.
On the first two drives Barlow kept stalling, and penalties marred both sides. But late in the first Fay ripped off a 40-yard run that got his team into the red zone. Two plays later Calcagno found junior tight end Andrew Collins in the end zone to make it 14-0.
In the second quarter it looked as if Gresham might get things on track. Gopher senior Lucas Simmons intercepted Baggs in the red zone as the Bruins ran a wildcat package. But the Bruins defense stepped up, not letting them capitalize on the turnover.
Coach Koenig describes his defense as being "no-name" — there are no stars. Instead, he said everyone on his defense works hard and wraps up on tackles, preventing any extra yards.
It was that nameless defense that kept the Gophers from ever finding a rhythm on offense. Gresham did not find much success running the ball, and the passing game had several near misses that could have turned things around. Junior quarterback Zach Kaufman got the ball out quickly, avoiding most of the Bruins' pressure, but many of his passes slipped through the fingertips of his receivers.
On the Gophers' opening drive, it seemed like this might have been a different game. Kaufman connected on a pass to get his team into the red zone, but the ball got popped out in the scrum tackle, and Uptegrove was able to recover the fumble.
To close the first half, the Bruins scored on a drive that began backed up on their own 3-yard line. They marched down the field and scored after Calcagno weathered a blitz to find senior tight end Jackson Kane as he was falling away from pressure. Kane snagged the 28-yard pass to make it 21-0 Bruins at the half.
Things slowed scoring-wise in the second as both defenses exerted their will. But the Bruins scored one final touchdown late in the third. Baggs fought through the line for a 6-yard touchdown run that had him dragging along half the defense.
The Bruins defense continued to prevent Gresham from scoring late, despite some nice carries from senior running back Ethan Hemstead.
The Bruins took over one last time and kneeled out the game.
"We worked hard all summer, so it was nice to be back on the field," Calcagno said. "We were ready to play and are looking forward to the rest of the games."
Raiders spoil Eagles' debut
Centennial played hard in its first full game back to the football field as they hosted a high-scoring Reynolds Saturday afternoon, March 27.
The Eagles weren't part of the first wave of high schools returning to play — the district decided to wait until Multnomah County reached moderate risk levels. That meant while the rest of the Mt. Hood Conference was playing games, Centennial was waiting to see if they could even begin practicing.
Finally, the risk level gave the green light, and the Eagles suited up.
"Our kids and coaches were all excited to be back out playing football," said coach Butch Self. "COVID was hard on the players being locked away, so it was rewarding to be back out there and enjoying our time together."
The Eagles began practicing three weeks ago, and their first game was a close 15-12 loss against David Douglas in a 7-on-7 matchup. They faced off against Reynolds (2-1), which has been one of the highest-scoring teams in the conference, averaging 35 points per game. The Raiders shut out Parkrose 35-0 in the opener and lost a close contest against Sandy 33-26.
Against the Eagles, Reynolds won 43-32.
Centennial came into the game debuting a new starting quarterback, sophomore Hayden Boyd, who made the switch from receiver. He led his offense with 278 yards and four touchdowns. Travis Johnson, senior wide receiver, had 149 yards and two touchdowns, and Talan Fery, freshman receiver, had two touchdowns as well.
The game was close in the first half, with the Raiders leading 15-12.
"In the first half our defense played about as well as they possibly could," Self said. "Reynolds has two tough running backs and we had issues wrapping up in the second."
The Raiders leaned on star running back Miles Wilson, a senior, to move the chains. He wore down the Eagles defense as the game went on, finding bigger gaps and controlling things by the end. He had 204 yards and three TDs.
Corbett (1-2) at Blanchet Catholic (1-3) 7 p.m. Thursday, April 1
Sandy (1-3) at Southridge (1-3), 7 p.m. Friday, April 2
Estacada (3-1) vs. Crook County (3-1), 7 p.m. Friday, April 2
Gresham (1-3) at David Douglas (1-1), 1 p.m. Saturday, April 3
Centennial (0-2) vs. Parkrose (1-3), 1 p.m. Saturday, April 3
Central Catholic (4-0) at Clackamas (3-1), 1 p.m. Saturday, April 3
Barlow (2-2) at Reynolds (2-1), 4 p.m. Saturday, April 3
Last week's games
Barlow 28, Gresham 0
Reynolds 43, Centennial 32
Central Catholic 35, Grant 21
Wilsonville 35, David Douglas 6
Parkrose 12, McDaniel 6
Estacada 36, Astoria 6
Clackamas 35, Sandy 0
Corbett at Rainier, cancelled
Boys records (entering March 29)
Mt. Hood Conference: Centennial 5-1, Sandy 4-3-1, Central Catholic 4-1-1, David Douglas 3-5, Barlow 2-3-3, Gresham 2-4-1, Reynolds 1-4-1,
5A Northwest League: Parkrose 2-3-2
4A Tri-Valley League: Estacada 4-2-2
Girls records (entering March 29)
Mt. Hood Conference: Centennial 5-3, Central Catholic 4-3-1, Barlow 4-2-1, David Douglas 3-5, Sandy 2-5, Gresham 1-6, Reynolds 0-7
5A Northwest League: Parkrose 0-6
4A Tri-Valley League: Estacada 1-4-2, Corbett 0-5-1
(records entering March 29)
Mt. Hood Conference: Central Catholic 9-0, Sandy 7-2, Barlow 5-4, Gresham 4-5, Reynolds 34-5, David Douglas 2-7, Centennial 0-9
5A Northwest League: Parkrose 4-2
4A Tri-Valley League: Corbett 8-2, Estacada 2-6
From the OSAAToday's Jerry Ulmer:
A season-ending 6A cross country meet appears to be coming to fruition. Coaches Eric Dettman of Lincoln and Thor Esbensen of Wilson are the catalysts behind a plan to bring the top 6A runners together for a meet at Rose City Golf Course in Portland on April 10.
"We're super excited about it," Dettman said. "It's the heavy hitters of Oregon."
Many 6A teams have been limited by district travel restrictions this season, but Dettman said that schools in Salem and southern Oregon have received the green light for the meet, and schools in Eugene are working on gaining permission.
"Summit is the only school that's having a little bit of travel issues," Dettman said of the Storm, who have won 12 consecutive girls state titles, 10 in 5A and the last two in 6A. "So we might turn it into a quote-unquote club championship, but I don't think we're going to do that, because we want it to be a high school meet."
Dettman said that a group of 6A coaches will finalize the field. At this point, the plan is to invite 12 teams and 20 individual qualifiers. The girls race is scheduled for 2 p.m., followed by the boys at 3 p.m. Athletic Timing will work the meet, which will be the first cross country event at Rose City.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.