Tigers continue their winning ways
On a roll during one of the most successful seasons for the program in recent memory, Newberg football beat Century 55-21 on Oct. 10 in Hillsboro to improve its record to 5-1, 1-0 in the Pacific Conference. A career performance for senior running back Justin Holtan propelled the No. 15 Tigers to a season-high in points in their fourth consecutive victory.
"I think we were physically dominant on both sides of the ball," NHS coach Kevin Hastin said. "Our guys were focused on getting better and playing hard, which was great to see. It was a fun night for everyone – our offensive line opened up some huge holes in the run game and our defense played well."
Holtan rushed for more than 220 yards and scored five touchdowns, anchoring Newberg's consistently dominant run game and proving unstoppable in the trenches and the open field. He was joined in the backfield by sophomore Price Pothier and freshman Hudson Davis, who was filling in for injured sophomore Sonny Apilando.
"Hudson has played quite a bit on defense for us, but this was his first start at wing back," Hastin said. "He rushed for over 100 yards and blocked really well. We've got a couple guys banged up and he stepped in and wasn't hesitant at all."
Newberg led 34-14 at the half and kept its foot on the offensive gas pedal, scoring three second half touchdowns in the blowout victory on the road. The Tigers hope to keep that momentum alive this week, when they face perennial league champion Sherwood.
Hastin said his team has had this game circled on the calendar from the very beginning.
"It's been a mindset all offseason that we've got to beat Sherwood," he said. "We view them as top dog in our conference and the last few years they were more physical than us. This time we will be tested by their run game and size and we have to step up and be more physical."
Hastin expects the Bowmen to try and limit Newberg's potent run game and he said the Tigers' game plan prepares them for any eventuality. They hope to be the more physical team up front and establish their run game early, but Hastin is comfortable greenlighting sophomore quarterback Levi Durrell to pass if need be. With a speedy group of Newberg receivers, the pass game might be utilized in a greater volume than usual on Friday night.
"When you play us, you have to look at our offense and focus on the run game," Hastin said. "We've got three capable running backs and so does Sherwood. We're different teams but very similar at the same time. We are planning for them to do what they can to stop the run."
Since 2004, Newberg's best overall record in football is 6-4, according to MaxPreps. At 5-1, the 2019 Tigers are well on their way to a stellar season regardless of what happens against Sherwood, but this upcoming game has the potential to be a program-definer.
If Newberg finally beats the Bowmen, they will have all but secured a league title with two games remaining. That is a pantheon of greatness not achieved by the Tigers in some time, and one that may well put the state on notice to what is happening in the Chehalem Valley.
Sherwood is the final boss of sorts for Newberg after putting up video game-like numbers in blowout wins over lesser opponents this season. Its signature brand of physical football will be put to the ultimate test against the class of the Pacific Conference.
"For us to be a league champion, we've got to beat these guys," Hastin said. "That's not to say there aren't other contenders for a league title, but year in and year out it's Sherwood up there. For us to win it and put a stamp on our season, we've got to play well on Friday night and win."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.