Forest Grove and Southridge take the football field - finally
The Forest Grove Vikings and Southridge Skyhawks played a football game Friday night, March 5, at Dick Hendricks Memorial Stadium in Forest Grove. There were no fans, limited attendance and some rain did fall. But while less than ideal, the scene couldn't have been more glorious for the kids, coaches and administrators lucky enough to have once again, what was so rudely taken from them nearly a year ago.
"It was awesome," Forest Grove head coach Perry Herbst said. "It's been a long, long time, and I think the kids were excited about finally getting a chance to play."
It had been nearly a year since high school athletes took to the playing field as a result of the pandemic, and roughly 15 months since the last action on the gridiron. Southridge senior running back Robert Marquez spoke directly to that after the game and seemed appreciative for the chance that as of a few weeks ago, they wondered if they'd ever get.
"Obviously, we were definitely hyped up," Marquez said. "We have a great class of seniors and this was like a reunion out there for us tonight. It's been practically a year-and-a-half since we played, and it felt good to be out there."
Especially for the Skyhawks who used Marquez and fellow back, senior Kaleb Moxley, along with a physical offensive line to batter the home Vikings en route to a 35-0 opening night win.
Marquez rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, while Moxley scored twice on the ground, the first on the game's opening drive and second five minutes into the second quarter to put Southridge up 14-0.
Marquez was pleased with both he and his teammates' effort running the ball, but like any good back was quick to point to his offensive line as the key to it all.
"They're the core of the whole team," he said. "No running back runs without that. We win in the box and when we get our running game going, we takeover."
The Skyhawks started quick, going 49 yards on the game's opening drive, capped by a five-yard Moxley touchdown run.
Forest Grove went three and out on the ensuing possession, but after a poor punt set Southridge up in Viking territory, the home team's defense — fueled by a Shane Parrow sack — bowed-up and forced a turnover on downs, setting the stage for what would be a primarily defensive first half.
"We've got a lot of young kids on that defense," Herbst said. "I was really impressed with how they played, especially in that first half. I know the score doesn't look like it, but I was really pleased with how they responded in their first real action."
Southridge led 6-0 after a quarter, then went ahead 14-0 when Moxley scored on a 15-yard run around the right end, then added the 2-point conversion. It stayed that way until just before the half when a late Forest Grove fumble gave the Skyhawks the ball at the Vikings' 15-yardline with :03 on the clock. With but one play to cash-in, Southridge quarterback J.C. Klee hit Justin Lee on a wheel route in the left corner of the endzone, giving the visitors a 21-0 halftime lead and taking all the momentum to the halftime locker room.
"Yeah, that was a tough one because they go up 21," Herbst said, "But I don't think the kids were down that much, and for the most part I was pleased with some of the things we were doing."
Skyhawks head coach Kevin Bickler emphasized physicality to his team at the half and they responded, getting an interception on the third quarter's first play, then going 43 quick yards on three straight runs, the last of which was of the touchdown variety when Marquez went 35-yards up the right sideline.
From there it was about the Southridge defense which was led by seniors Kyle Moxley and Mustafa Sorrell. The Vikings did little on the ground and even less through the air, as Forest Grove first-year starting quarterback Ayden Case struggled to find Viking receivers, and when he did the young receiving corp struggled to haul them in. Ultimately however, this night was less about what happened on the field, and more about the fact that the teams were there at all.
"This has been and is a journey," Herbst said. "I knew it was going to be a bit rough tonight with all the young guys out there. We'll have our ups and downs, but I think we're going to play some good football before it's over. But it was fun to be out here."
Forest Grove is scheduled to play at Scappoose Friday, March 12, while Southridge travels to play Westview.
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