Haney, Elliott and Marini go out as winners in the Les Schwab Bowl
The North team was a winner at Saturday's annual Les Schwab Bowl.
The North's defense was definitely a winner, too, holding the South to a single score and pitching a shutout for the game's final 53 minutes and 52 seconds.
And three stars from Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools — Sam Haney and Shawn Elliott of LO, and Joe Marini of Lakeridge — were also winners, helping lead that defense during the North's 24-7 victory at Hillsboro Stadium. The Les Schwab Bowl is an all-star football game featuring Oregon's best graduated high school seniors from both Class 5A and Class 6A.
It was, without question, a great way for three of the Lake Oswego area's best players to end their high school careers.
"The last time I was on this field, we lost to South Medford so it was good to come back and get a 'W,'" said Elliott, who will play football next year at Oregon State University. "It was definitely a fun week. I really enjoyed it."
"It was awesome. I had a blast," said Marini, another player headed to the OSU football team in the fall. "When we first got here, we didn't know each other and we were just like people from all around Oregon, and now, I wish we had one more week. I don't want to leave."
"Just playing football again was a good feeling, and then when you get good guys who are … the best players at their schools and combine together, it's a pretty cool thing that not a lot of people get to do," added Haney, who will play baseball next year at Ottawa University in Arizona. "It's a pretty special week."
While the North started slowly on offense — the North's offensive unit didn't get on the scoreboard until the start of the fourth quarter — it produced two touchdowns in the final quarter and put the game out of reach. Until then, however, it was up to the North's defense and that unit — including Elliott, Marini and Haney — was tough as nails.
The South scored the game's first TD, stitching together a 99-yard scoring march on its first possession that saw South Medford quarterback Robbie Patterson complete 4 of 6 passes for 56 yards, while South Medford running back Jaylin Parnell carried six times for 34 yards, including a 9-yard run for what turned out to be his team's lone score.
The North defense stepped after that, though, with Grant's Grant Ewell Jr. picking off a pass by Pendleton's Nick Bower and taking it back 71 yards to score early in the second period. Ewell then caught a pass from Clackamas QB Mitchell Modjeski on the ensuing two-point conversion to give the North the lead for good at 8-7.
The North's "D" came through again in the final minute of the opening half, with Glencoe's Brandon Underwood sacking Bower for a safety that gave his team a 10-7 lead at the half.
"Throughout practice, we knew we had a good squad on defense so we took advantage of that and played hard," said Elliott, a defensive end who finished with four tackles (three solo and one for a loss). "Basically, what we focused on was bonding throughout the whole week. We all got to know each other really well and now we're all really good friends — I think that really helped us out tonight."
"Our defense was holding us. We were scoring our own points for a little bit," said Marini, another end who had six tackles (three solo), 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for losses. "But then our offense turned it up a lot. The offense turned it on later on and kicked butt."
The North defense did its job big-time after that early score, stopping the South cold for the game's final 3 1/2 quarters. While Elliott and Marini held things down on the end of the line, Haney was seemingly everywhere on Saturday. Working from his middle linebacker position, Haney finished with four solo tackles, five assists and a game-high total of nine stops (tied with the South's Ryan Baxter of West Salem).
"Our defense had a lot of good players," he said. "We had a lot of playmakers on defense and that's what happens when you make a team like this where you've got a lot of guys who like to fly around."
With the North defense exercising its will over the South and still holding a 10-7 lead, the North's offense finally caught fire late in the game. First, the North got a 13-yard scoring run from Grant's DeMarques Singleton four seconds into in the fourth quarter, and later, it added an 18-yard TD pass from Modjeski to Gresham's Levi O'Connell with 5:05 remaining for the final margin.
Ewell was named Most Valuable Player, O'Connell and South Salem's Alex Sanchez were named Linemen of the Game, while Singleton and Parnell were named Backs of the Game.