High school football: West Linn cruises to 58-6 win at Lakeridge
The West Linn football team is on a roll.
The Lions scored early and often in a 58-6 win at Lakeridge on Friday night, Oct. 21. West Linn was led by five total touchdowns from quarterback Sam Leavitt as it ran out to a 51-0 halftime lead. It was yet another dazzling performance from West Linn (7-1, 4-0 Three Rivers), the team's sixth win in a row since a 35-31 loss to Sheldon on Sept. 8 — their only setback of the season to date.
"We were a young team with a new coaching staff, so we needed a wake-up call," said Leavitt of the Week 2 loss. "After that, though, we've been rolling. I feel like we're all getting more comfortable, and you can see how it's going."
"We're really getting into our own, and we're showing how powerful we can be with our offense," said senior Earl Ingle.
Indeed, West Linn wasted no time in showing off its talent in what would be a 51-point outburst in the first half.
On the third play of the game, Leavitt ran for a 72-yard touchdown after breaking out of the backfield. Later in the quarter, Lakeridge took a safety when the snap went flying over senior Ryan Oliver's head and out the back of the end zone on a punt attempt. After senior Koffi Kouame returned the ensuing kickoff to the Lakeridge 21-yard line, Ben Winjum ran it in for a 10-yard score two plays later.
From there, Leavitt hit senior receivers Mark Hamper and Jackson Shelstad for second-quarter touchdowns of 10 and 30 yards, respectively. At that point, it was already 30-0 — and then the Lions scored three more times in the final two minutes of the half.
The first was a highlight-reel, one-handed grab from Koffi Kouame. On the first play of Lakeridge's next drive, West Linn sophomore Hudson Hardy intercepted the ball and ran it back for a 28-yard touchdown. The Lions forced another turnover, this time a fumble, and that led to another Leavitt-to-Hamper touchdown, this time from 20 yards out.
In total, six different West Linn players scored touchdowns on Friday night as Leavitt went 14-of-18 on his passes for 221 yards.
"We've got a lot of athletes everywhere," Ingle said. "When people make plays, it has a domino effect, which you could see there."
As impressive as the West Linn offense is, the defense deserves equal praise.
"Defense has always been stout on our team," Ingle said. "We've got a lot of great coaches, and a lot of depth out there with some seniors. It's really easy for all of us collectively to communicate and get the right calls out there, which is crucial in games like this."
Lakeridge showed signs of life right on the opening kickoff of the third quarter, with Chili Stephens Jr. breaking out for a long return that put the Pacers in the red zone. Unfortunately for the home team, they were forced to attempt a field goal — and the Lions pounced on another opportunity. Senior Jake Holmes blocked the kick, and Shelstad was able to pick up the ball on a good hop before taking it back for a 70-yard touchdown.
It has been a big week for Shelstad, scoring two touchdowns not long after becoming one of the first two Oregon high schoolers to sign an NIL endorsement deal. While the future Oregon Duck is pursuing a basketball career, he showed off his versatility on the gridiron on Friday night with touchdowns on both sides of the ball.
"On that receiving touchdown, Sam knows his reads, so I just shook my guy and was wide open in the middle of the field," Shelstad said. "That (blocked) kick return for a touchdown — that was really fun. I saw Jake Holmes block it, and I just picked it up. The whole time I was running to it, I was just hoping it was going to take a good bounce."
And when you're rolling, the bounces seem to just go your way.
The Pacers kept pushing throughout the second half, though, and they were able to get on the board late in the game. Senior Tashi Crofut bullied his way into the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown, ruining any plans for a West Linn shutout.
Still, it was a dominating performance that saw West Linn look every bit of its No. 1 rank in the OSAA ratings. While a state championship looks like it could be on the table for the Lions, they aren't letting themselves think that far ahead.
"We're just going week-to-week, not looking at playoffs yet," Leavitt said. "I just want to have fun with my team and cherish this senior season."
Leavitt and the Lions can put the finishing touches on a perfect Three Rivers League season next week when they take on rival Oregon City (4-3, 1-2 Three Rivers) on the road Friday, Oct. 28.
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