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The Lakers beat the Crusaders back in September, but Friday will be a new ballgame

PMG PHOTOS - For a second straight week, Lake Oswego's Class 6A playoff matchup features two of the state's best running backs, this time including Jesuit's Kade Wisher (left) and Lake Oswego's Casey Filkins.The dream is alive for the Lake Oswego football team.

But keeping that dream alive for another week may be tougher than ever before.

The Lakers, the reigning Class 6A state champions, won their third straight berth to the Class 6A state semifinals by beating crosstown rival Lakeridge 24-21 on Friday, Nov. 22, at Lake Oswego High School.

Their reward? Another matchup against talented Special District 2 champion Jesuit in the semis, that game set for 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, at Hillsboro Stadium.

While the Lakers beat the Crusaders 44-41 back on Sept. 13, Lake Oswego's players know that facing Jesuit in the semifinals will present a different and bigger challenge.

"We've got to battle in the trenches," said all-district Lake Oswego senior wide receiver/cornerback Thomas Dukart. "They are a run-first team so we've got to rest up this week and get healthy."

"(It's) just believing in ourselves and knowing we can do it," explained Laker senior all-district offensive lineman Niko Smith. "They always say it's hard to beat a team twice, but history shows (we'll have a) pretty good (chance) with that."

The third-ranked Lakers enter the semifinal carrying a four-game win streak and a 10-2 season record after finishing tied for second in Special District 5 play. No. 2 Jesuit (10-2 overall) — a 42-28 winner over Tualatin on Friday — enters the game on an eight-game winning streak of its own.

For their part, the Crusaders are confident in their chances against the Lakers.

"We've faced them so many times the past three years," said Jesuit senior running back Kade Wisher, who rushed for 330 yards and four touchdowns against Tualatin. "It should be a good battle."

"We just have to focus on ourselves, make sure that we're attacking in practice every day and do what we do," said Jesuit senior linebacker Andy Alfieri, who recovered a Tualatin fumble and returned it for a touchdown in his team's quarterfinal win. "We're the only people that can beat us."

The Offenses

The Jesuit "O" features a strong rushing attack led by Wisher (5-foot-9, 160 pounds), a first team all-Special District 2 selection who has run for 2,294 yards and 30 touchdowns on 260 carries. Senior Ted Atkinson (5-11, 174), a second-team all-SD2 pick, has added 1,295 yards and 21 TDs on 157 carries.

Jesuit junior quarterback Jack Heyden (6-2, 175) has completed 78 of 144 pass attempts for 1,323 yards, with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions. Senior Joey Gatto (5-7, 160), a second-team all-SD2 slotback, is the Crusaders' leading receiver with 20 catches for 308 yards and fourth touchdowns.

As usual, Jesuit also features a powerful offensive line, including a pair of first-team all-SD2 picks in senior Shea Brooks (6-5, 240) and junior Charlie Pickard (6-5, 255). Senior tight end Lucas Christen (6-2, 232) and senior fullback Logan Horton (6-1, 227) were also first-team all-district picks.

For Lake Oswego, the Lakers' offensive unit looks to Filkins (5-11, 195) and his powerful offensive line to lead the way. The reigning Oregon Offensive Player of the Year, Filkins has rushed for 2,152 yards and 34 TDs on 253 carries, and down the stretch in 2019, has increasingly run the Laker offense out of the wildcat formation, also throwing two TD passes.

Beyond Filkins — the Special District 5 Offensive Player of the Year — the Lakers' offense looks to sophomore running back Gabe Olvera (5-9, 165 — 442 yards and four TDs), senior wide receiver Joe Hutson (a 6-1, 170 first-team pick who's made 38 catches for 444 yards and three TDs), senior tight end Marshall McGuire (a 6-3, 210 second-teamer) and linemen Tiger Shanks (a 6-6, 315 senior first-team selection and SD5 Linemen of the Year), Cody Carlson (6-2, 255 and a first-team pick who's currently injured), Smith (a 6-1, 280 honorable mention pick) and Bailey Jaramillo (a 6-6, 320 honorable mention pick).

The Defenses

On "D," the Lakers have allowed just over 24 points per game and feature one of the deepest and best backfields in the state, that group led by Hutson (a first-teamer with two interceptions) and senior Jonas Hunter (a 6-0, 170 second-team selection) at cornerback, and junior Malcolm Williams (a 6-1, 155 second-team selection) with four interceptions), Filkins, Dukart (a 6-2, 180 honorable mention pick) and junior sophomore Dylan Layne (a 6-0, 170 honorable mention pick) at safety.

Up front, the Lakers look to Carlson, McGuire and junior Julian Lopez (a 6-0, 195 junior second-teamer), that group aided at linebacker by Willihnganz (a 5-10, 195 honorable mention pick) and junior Ty Miller (a 6-0, 200 honorable mention pick).

On the defensive side of the ball, the Crusaders have given up fewer than 22 points per game, their efforts led by five first-team all-Special District 2 picks — Horton and Christen at linebacker, Pickard on the defensive line, and senior defensive backs Campbell Brandt (5-8, 145) and Seth Welsh (5-10, 165).

"I think everyone is just going to have to come together as a team (to beat Jesuit)," said Lake Oswego senior linebacker Cooper Winn (5-10, 180). "I think if we play together, we are going to have a good run."

"We have a huge rivalry with them and we're ready to go," Christen said. "We have to key on (Filkins) — he does a great job and they have a great line. (But) all around, we just have to be prepared — no mistakes."

Contact Sports Editor Miles Vance at 503-330-0127 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dan Brood contributed to this story.

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