Lake Oswego races past Lakeridge 35-6 in the Battle of the Lake
There was almost too much on the line.
The Lake Oswego football team, playing at Lakeridge High School in the annual Battle of the Lake on Friday, had a chance to win the Three Rivers League for the first time since 2012.
The Lakers — second-ranked coming into Friday's game — had a shot at securing a top seed for the coming Class 6A state playoffs.
And of course, the Lakers had another opportunity to beat crosstown rival Lakeridge in a rivalry game that always matters.
By night's end, Lake Oswego had accomplished all its goals, beating Lakeridge 35-6 — its fourth straight win over the Pacers — securing a share of the Three Rivers League title and earning the No. 1 seed in the state.
"We've got a lot of momentum. We're playing really great now," said Lake Oswego sophomore running back Casey Filkins, who rushed 14 times for 135 yards and three touchdowns. "We're happy with how we're playing and now we just want to keep it rolling forward."
"Being the top team in our league is a pretty good thing, especially with the talent we have," said Lake Oswego quarterback Jake Dukart, who went 9 of 16 passing for 121 yards with one touchdown and one interception. "It just shows all the preparation we're doing, all the hard work the guys put in. Last year, we were a little bit young, but this year, we're learning ways to finish games."
"We knew that Lakeridge could win this game — coach kept on telling us that and telling us that — but we knew we were the better team all along and I think this was a well-deserved win," added junior defensive lineman Miles Lewis, who helped hold the Pacers to 185 yards in total offense.
With their sixth straight win, the Lakers finished the TRL season at 6-1 — tied for first with Tigard — and lifted their overall record to 8-1. Next up, the Lakers will host No. 32 Jefferson (3-4 and fifth in the Portland Interscholastic League, 5-4 overall) on Friday in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
The No. 21 Pacers, meanwhile, lost for the second week in a row and finished at 3-4 in league and 4-4 overall. In their playoff opener, Lakeridge will play at No. 12 Lincoln (7-0 and first in the Portland Interscholastic League, 7-2 overall) on Friday.
While the final two weeks of the regular season were tough on the Pacers — Lakeridge lost 49-0 to No. 3 West Linn last week — those losses will not mark the end of the team's 2017 season. For the first time since 2014, the Pacers will be a playoff team.
"I'm really looking forward to it. It's just amazing to be in the playoffs, to be the first team in (a couple) years to be in the playoffs," said junior linebacker Jackson McGinley, who helped hold the Lakers to a single touchdown in the night's final 33 minutes and 50 seconds. "We're going to be preparing for that game. We know what to do for that game. We know what's going to happen. I think we have a chance if we play well."
"I think this was a great game to learn off of and get better from, and coming into practice this week, it will be a big learning curve for us and we just need to buckle down," added sophomore linebacker Matt Peterson. "In practice, we just have to compete harder, work harder, and then come next week, we are going to be ready."
The Lakers were certainly ready on Friday, taking the game's first drive 70 yards to score, with Filkins carrying the final four plays for 43 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown run that — along with the first of Jake Bazant's five extra points — gave the Lakers a 7-0 lead just 2:21 into the contest.
Less than three minutes later, the Lakers were back in the end zone a second time, this time when Laker senior Jordan Newlin fielded a Joe Marini punt at the Lake Oswego 15-yard line, took it up the middle of the field, then cut to the left sideline and outran the Pacer defense for an 85-yard TD return and a 14-0 lead just 5:17 into the contest.
Things got worse for Lakeridge before they got better, too. The Lakers forced a three-and-out, then gobbled up 71 yards in just six plays, scoring their third TD of the opening quarter when Dukart hit Newlin for a leaping 25-yard touchdown catch over both Connor Hilts and Andre Martinez of Lakeridge at the left flag to make it 21-0 near the end of the first period.
On their ensuing possession, the Pacers drove to midfield and then — facing a fourth-and-three from their own 47 — took a shot at getting back into the game. But Pacer junior quarterback Charlie Maynes' throw to Peterson in the flat came in low, glanced off Peterson's hands and fell incomplete.
From there, the Lakers needed just two plays to score, with Filkins going up the middle, cutting to his left and speeding 29 yards to the end zone, eventually diving to the left pylon to score and make it 28-0 with 9:50 to go in the half.
"We worked hard all week and getting up 28-0 real fast was a big deal for us, gave us a lot of confidence," Dukart said.
While neither team scored again in the first half — the Pacers punted three times in the remaining minutes while the Lakers punted once and saw Lakeridge's Finn Reeves pick off a tipped Dukart pass in the end zone — Lake Oswego came through again at the start of the second.
LO's Bryson Breeze and Marcus Taylor stuffed Pacer Jalen John — who played for the first time in three weeks — for a four-yard loss on Lakeridge's three-and-out at the start of the third quarter. Then, following a short Pacer punt, the Lakers took over at the Lakeridge 34-yard line and scored in just four plays, with Dukart hitting Newlin twice for 22 yards and Filkins going 12 yards up the middle to score and make it 35-0 with 9:27 remaining in the quarter.
"It was a good game for our linemen and I'm really happy with where we're at," Filkins said. "They did a great job opening up holes and they made it easy for me to just roll through and run."
Then, midway through the third quarter, the Pacers got on the scoreboard with a 94-yard touchdown drive that ended when Maynes hit junior wide receiver Will Scadden on the left side of the field, saw Scadden break a tackle and race 59 yards to score and make it 35-6 with 2:03 to go in the quarter.
Neither team scored the rest of the way, however, with Lake Oswego's Kevin Jarrett picking off a Cooper Justice pass on the Pacers' final possession.
"We kind of slowed down in the second half which was frustrating, but a win's a win and we'll either share the league title or win it," Dukart said. "It's a pretty special feeling. It shows all the hard work we put in this offseason."
"We came out and played really well and we're happy with where we're at," Filkins said. "But it's a little better when it's Lakeridge."
For their part, the Pacers quickly put Friday behind them and turned their sights to the playoffs.
"I believe that going into the playoffs, it's going to be a lot of great opponents and we're going to get our heads straight and then we don't care who we play," Peterson added. "If our heads are right, if we play our football the way we know how to play, then no one can stop us."
For the game, Caiden Biege-Wetherbee led Lakeridge with 52 yards rushing on 10 carries, while Maynes went 9 of 18 passing for 140 yards, with Scadden making four catches for 101 yards.