The 2019 Lakeridge football team has had a season like no other.
The Pacers opened the year by losing head coach Elvis Akpla three weeks before it began.
Next, they named Forrest Sherman as their new interim head coach and took off on a roller-coaster ride of a season that now includes back-to-back playoff upsets of No. 11 Beaverton and No. 6 Aloha.
To look back on the Pacers' wild 2019 ride, just click on any of the hyperlinks below.
To see info about Lake Oswego's Year in Review, click here.
While most high school football teams use the summer to build muscle in the weight room, add precision in passing league and create camaraderie in team camp, Lakeridge High School is using it to say goodbye to former head coach Elvis Akpla and welcome interim head coach Forrest Sherman for the coming 2019 season.
Akpla shared news of his resignation on July 31, reportedly meeting with his players in the morning before releasing a lengthy email explaining his decision to leave the program.
The Lakeridge football team is ready to begin its next chapter.
And that next chapter will be led by newly-minted interim head coach Forrest Sherman.
Sherman, 48, was selected in mid-August to lead the Pacers' football program following the departure of former head coach Elvis Akpla on July 31. Akpla, who worked with the program for six years and served as head coach for four, left Lakeridge to take a teaching position in Missouri after his future wife previously accepted an assistant principal position in the same district.
The times they are a-changin' at Lakeridge High School.
Gone are first-team all-Three Rivers League selections Andre Martinez, Charlie Maynes and Javier John.
Gone too is former head coach Elvis Akpla, who left the program right on the verge of the 2019 season.
But some things remain exactly the same as the Pacers prepare for the new year — their desire to continue the program's ascendance and their desire to win.
Lakeridge, now under the guidance of head coach Forrest Sherman — he served the previous two seasons as defensive coordinator — is determined to come back strong, determined to prove its critics wrong and determined to go further in the playoffs for the third year in a row.
There's no doubt about it — Special District 5 was the state's best high school football league in 2018.
In addition to Lake Oswego's Class 6A state championship win — the Lakers beat Sheldon 34-27 at Hillsboro Stadium — West Linn and Tigard both reached the state quarterfinals, while Lakeridge and Oregon City also won first-round games.
In 2019, Special District 5 — traditionally known as the Three Rivers League — might be even better.
While no one knows if there's another state champion lurking among the district's seven teams this year, the first statewide coaches poll for 2019 lists five SD5 teams among the state's top 10. That group is led by top-ranked Lake Oswego and also includes No. 5 West Linn, Tualatin and Tigard tied at No. 6, and Lakeridge at No. 10.
There's work left to be done.
The Lakeridge football team knows it after opening its 2019 season with a tough 53-7 loss to talented Tualatin at Tualatin High School Friday, Sept. 6.
The Pacers fell behind the Timberwolves by five touchdowns at halftime, scored early in the third quarter to close within 36-7, but got no closer the rest of the way.
What a difference a week makes.
Seven days after getting hammered in its 2019 season opener, the Lakeridge football team came back strong in week two, pulling away from Clackamas in the second half to beat the Cavaliers 41-28 at Clackamas High School.
Given everything that had gone wrong a week earlier — the Pacers fell 53-7 to Three Rivers League foe Tualatin — the win over Clackamas on Friday, Sept. 13, was like a brand new day for Lakeridge.
Day by day, play by play and game by game, the Sherwood football team is showing that it's the real deal.
The Bowmen proved it again on Friday, Sept. 20, when they routed Lakeridge 50-13 on the Pacers' homecoming night at Lakeridge High School.
The Lakeridge football team was right there.
The Pacers, hosting fifth-ranked West Linn Friday, Sept. 27, powered down the field to tie the contest midway through the third quarter and looked for all the world like they'd keep the Lions in their sights the rest of the way.
But West Linn had other ideas. The Lions scored on five of their final six possessions and used that surge to beat Lakeridge 48-27.
Lakeridge quarterback Cooper Justice and the rest of the Pacers could do little wrong on Friday, Oct. 4.
The Oregon City Pioneers only wish they could say the same.
Justice passed for 228 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 78 yards and another score, leading the Pacers to a 37-10 Special District 5 win over the error-prone Pioneers at Oregon City's Pioneer Memorial Stadium.
Things got a little exciting for the Lakeridge football team late in its Friday, Oct. 11, contest at Canby.
The Pacers led the Cougars all night, but saw Canby tie the contest with just 10 minutes remaining to play. Undeterred, Lakeridge knuckled down and battled back, getting a 12-yard Jalen John touchdown run to beat the Cougars 35-28 at Canby High School.
The first half was definitely a battle.
And it was a battle that left the Tigard and Lakeridge high school football teams tied going into the halftime break.
The Pacers were pretty happy about that. The Tigers, well, not so much.
The second half was a different story, though, and Tigard was happy about that.
The top-ranked Tigers, following the first-half deadlock, scored 28 unanswered points in the second half on their way to a 41-14 win over Lakeridge in a Special District 5 game played Friday, Oct. 18, at Lakeridge High School.
The Lakeridge football team was dead in the water at halftime of its Friday, Oct. 25, game at Bend.
The Pacers had struggled on offense, turned the ball over and fell behind by four touchdowns at the break in their non-league game at Bend High School.
But that was not the end of Lakeridge's day.
The Pacers turned the game around after halftime and outscored the Lava Bears by 26 points in the final two quarters before eventually falling short 34-33.
It was the immovable object vs. the irresistible force.
It was Lake Oswego vs. Lakeridge.
And it was LO senior running back Casey Filkins vs. Pacer senior running back Jalen John.
In the end, it was Filkins and the Lakers who got their way, breaking open a three-point game by outscoring Lakeridge by three touchdowns over the game's final 2+ quarters to win 41-17 in the annual Battle of the Lake at Lakeridge High School on Friday, Nov. 1.
In a season filled with disparate highs and lows, the Lakeridge football team picked a great time to throw in another big "up."
The 22nd-ranked Pacers, playing at No. 12 Beaverton in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs on Friday, Nov. 8, stepped up to shock the Beavers on their home field, winning 48-27 at Beaverton High School.
While the fog lay heavy over the field at Aloha High School on Friday, Nov. 15, this much was shockingly clear — the 2019 football season had never looked brighter for Lakeridge.
The 22nd-ranked Pacers, after going just 3-6 in the regular season, posted their second upset in two weeks of the Class 6A state playoffs, beating No. 6 Aloha 50-41 at Aloha on Friday night.
It just doesn't get any better than this.
If you love high school football, then you've got to be excited about the Lakeridge vs. Lake Oswego matchup coming up in the Class 6A state quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 22.
The game — set for 7 p.m. Friday at Lake Oswego High School — has pretty much everything going for it.
• It's a battle between two longtime, crosstown rivals.
• It's a game that features two of the state's best running backs — Stanford-bound Lake Oswego senior Casey Filkins and Arizona-bound Lakeridge senior Jalen John.
• It's a David vs. Goliath matchup that features No. 22 Lakeridge — a team that lost its former head coach just three weeks before the start of the season and went 3-6 before the playoffs — vs. third-ranked defending state champion Lake Oswego, one of the state's premier programs.
• And finally, it's a contest that rewards the winner with a coveted state semifinal berth and the chance to keep their state-title hopes alive.
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