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Hunter McDonald, Boaz Amadio score running TDs; Bruins earn top-16 playoff berth, Pioneers to vie for Columbia Cup

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Barlow senior running back Hunter MacDonald scored a touchdown in a 14-3 win over Sandy Friday, Oct. 28.In a knockdown physical game, Barlow football leaned on its defense in a near-shutout against conference rivals with postseason placement on the line.

Three times the Bruins turned back a Sandy offense in the fourth quarter that was mired on its side of the field in a foggy, rainy game of inches. First senior linebacker Silas Bjugan dove on a fumble from a crushing sack on Pioneers junior signal caller Billy Lucas. Then after a fumble of their own, junior corner Elijah Greenup high-pointed a pass for an interception. Finally, after a two quick passes to star senior tight end Leithan Thompson and a deep bomb to senior receiver Riley McVicar, senior safety Cassius Davis hauled in the game-sealing pick in the end zone.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Barlow beat Sandy to finish out the regular season.  "The defense was rock solid — we knew we were going to have to stop their physical runners and force them to throw it," coach Tracy Jackson said. "They made plays down the stretch."

Barlow beat Sandy in a revenge game 14-3 Friday, Oct. 28, in what was a battle between two of the top teams in the Mt. Hood Conference to cap the regular season.

"This was a big deal — not just with postseason but because they beat us last season," Jackson said. "(Every) guy on our team wanted this badly."

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Pioneers senior running back Garrett Willenberg.  Both teams struggled to find their offensive footing, with lots of runs up the middle and few explosive plays.

"We had to go to a place where we are happy, which is being physical and running the ball," Jackson said. "When the game slowed to a crawl, we turned to our bully ball."

No. 16 Barlow (5-4, 5-2 League) handed the ball off to a pair of senior running backs who led a methodical platoon. Hunter MacDonald scored the opening touchdown halfway through the second quarter on a 5-yard plunge to paydirt; while Boaz Amadio notched a 3-yard goal line touchdown in the third quarter.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Barlows defense held the Pioneers to just three points, and had a trio of takeaways in the fourth quarter.  Sandy (4-5, 4-3 League) had some promising early runs from senior bruiser Garrett Willenberg, but the turnovers prevented any potential comeback. Their lone score came in the waning seconds of the first on a 35-yard field goal from sophomore Marco Torres.

The contest had playoff ramifications. Things are different this year for 6A football — there are two brackets. The top 16 will compete for the OSAA State Championship trophy, while the lower level will feature the next-best 16 facing off for the inaugural "Columbia Cup."

With the win Barlow got a spot in the upper bracket as the 15-seed. They will travel to face No. 2 Sheldon on Friday, Nov. 4. Meanwhile Sandy is in the lower bracket as the 27th seed. They will play No. 23 Sprague, also on Friday.

"There is a lot that can happen with playoffs, but regardless, we are going to fight," Jackson said.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Barlow junior defensive end Luke Fahner.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Sandy junior running back Cole Rotzien.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Sandy junior quarterback Billy Lucas.

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