Rivalry rout: Barlow football bruises Gresham
The Barlow Bruin offensive line came into a rivalry showdown with plenty of distractions that could have derailed things — but instead the front five showed poise, stuck their hands in the dirt and cleared the way for a dominant blowout of crosstown foe Gresham.
The Bruins established the run early and returned to it often as they lit up the scoreboard in a 48-0 drumming of the Gophers Friday night, Oct. 1, in a Mt. Hood Conference bout. The offensive line made its presence known, opening up massive holes for a platoon of Bruin runners to dash into the end zone — with three touchdowns apiece for senior Jake Fay and junior Hunter MacDonald.
"This is a game we want to win every year because Gresham is our crosstown rival," said Ethan Lavin, a senior 6-foot-2, 305-pound right tackle, who helped the Bruins bruise their way to the blowout. "I'm proud of everyone — a performance like this is special as a run-heavy team."
On every drive Barlow (4-2) chewed the clock and was never forced to punt the ball away. The offensive line staggered the Gopher front seven, opening up huge holes for the runners and keeping the pressure off their quarterback. On the defensive side the Bruins racked up a plethora of tackles-for-losses, and never allowed Gresham (1-4) to find a groove.
That daunting physicality fit the mindset Bruin Head Coach Tracy Jackson wants to establish in every contest, and he was proud of how his team performed.
"We try very hard to have an identity of physicality in all facets of the game," Jackson said. "While everyone else looks to spread it out, we want to be tough and move the ball up the middle."
On many of the touchdown runs, Fay and MacDonald were able to waltz untouched into the end zone.
"Our offensive line had to fight as (Gresham) looked to chop them at the ankles — but they overcame and got to the second level a lot," MacDonald said. "Beating Gresham is fun … this is a longtime rivalry with lots of energy."
The Bruins didn't let outside noise distract them from the game. It was homecoming week, and there were plenty of festivities happening around the field and during halftime. Barlow also came into the clash on a shortened week of practice after forfeiting last week's game against David Douglas with too many players out with positive COVID-19 tests. They only had four days of practice before the Gresham game.
"We've been away from the field for two weeks, so we had a lot of pent-up energy," Jackson said.
There was a moment when Gresham looked like it might claw back into the game.
In the waning seconds of the first half, junior quarterback Jaxon Doving connected on a pair of deep passes to senior tight end Brody Booze to get into the red zone as the clock wound down. On the final play of the half, the duo connected one last time, but Booze was ripped down just short of pay dirt.
In the second half the Bruins began to cruise, and the coaching staff was able to get the second- and third-string players onto the field for some crucial downs.
"It's nice to be able to give the first-string a break in a game like this and get other players involved," Lavin said.
The Barlow defense continued its stout performance in garbage time. Senior linebacker Luke Nettles, junior linebacker Silas Bjugan and senior corner Anthony Arauz all shined, wrapping up and making the Gopher skill players' lives miserable. Aruaz, in particular, stood out in the third quarter with a flurry of pass breakups that all but secured the shutout.
Despite the lopsided affair, there was a buzz in the air all night. Fans flooded into the stands, with officials estimating it was the largest crowd at the stadium since it opened in 2019. There were so many people in attendance that shuttle buses were needed to bring spectators in from nearby parking lots.
And those fans made themselves heard, roaring on third downs and feeding the home team with their raucous energy.
"During the 'Third-down Thunder' you can feel it shaking out on the field," MacDonald said with a laugh, citing when the crowd stomps its feet on key downs.
As for the Bruins, though a victory over Gresham is always the goal, they are taking things week-by-week. The offensive line wants both Fay and MacDonald to notch 1,000-yard rushing seasons, and everyone is focused on the next game.
"We want to continue to build this program and establish our identity," Coach Jackson said.
Next up, Barlow will be at Central Catholic at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, and Gresham will face Sandy at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7.
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.