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The Tigers look ahead to one more game before the Class 6A state playoffs next week

PHOTO BY DEAN TAKAHASHI - Sophomore quarterback Levi Durrell threw for a touchdown in Newberg's win over McMinnville on Friday.

A shutout victory on the road is sweet, but it's even sweeter when it comes against a rival.

Newberg football took care of business at McMinnville on Friday, beating the Grizzlies 21-0 in a game dominated by its elite defense. The Tigers (6-2, 2-1 Pacific Conference) put themselves in position to finish second in league with a home game against Glencoe on tap Friday.

Once again, Newberg's offense was carried by a potent rushing attack, while its defense contained McMinnville's runners despite a hefty offensive line for the Grizzlies (3-5, 1-2).

"The focus was to stop their run," NHS coach Kevin Hastin said. "They're huge up front, the biggest offensive line we've faced all year, and their running back ran hard. We challenged the guys physically all week because we knew we'd face that rushing attack, and I think we delivered."

Newberg's three scores came on a 35-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Levi Durrell to junior wideout Owen Hawley, along with two touchdown runs by sophomore running back Price Pothier. The young Pothier once again led a Newberg ground game that has proven versatile, deep and consistent this season – asserting itself as the undisputed strength of the Tigers' offense.

McMinnville's defense posed a tough challenge, Hastin said, but Newberg imposed its will on multiple offensive drives.

"We moved the ball well," Hastin said. "I felt like we had some penalties that stopped us on a couple drives, but we still moved it pretty well. We have to clean up those small mistakes because we can't make those in the future."

Newberg's defense, which has found success forcing turnovers this season, had three against the Grizzlies – all interceptions. Junior defensive back Gabe Ramos had two picks, while junior safety Armen Tarakhchyan had one of his own. Newberg would have added a fourth turnover in the form of a fumble recovery, but an inadvertent whistle resulted in the play being blown dead, Hastin said.

More of the same on defense – along with continued production on offense – will be necessary on Friday when Newberg faces Glencoe. The Crimson Tide are 5-3 on the season, 2-1 in league, and Friday's game will decide second place in the Pacific Conference as Sherwood (6-2, 3-0) has already clinched a conference crown.

"It's our expectation to get better every week and challenge ourselves," Hastin said. "That's our mindset going into Glencoe – we have to improve, we can't stay the same, and we have to keep this going. The teams we face are going to be better and better every week.

"Glencoe is an up and coming program with a few good wins under their belt. They have a good running back (Royce Fasel) that started as a freshman and he is one of the better playmakers we'll face this season. He's one of the state's leading rushers, so we have to stop him."

This season is poised to be the best one record-wise for Newberg in the past two decades, if the Tigers can take care of business against Glencoe. Hastin said he hasn't had much time to think about how the program has improved in recent years, but added that the excitement built by this team in the community has been special.

Friday also marks Senior Night, where 11 players will be honored for their contributions to the football program: Justin Holtan, Jared LaPointe, Jordan Beaudry, Tyler Brunhaver, Dwayne Buck, Brandon Barlow, Ethan Crowley, Harrison Hess, Cody Meade, Tyler Takahashi and Robert Allen. The seniors will join friends and family on the field pregame to reflect on their high school football careers.

At press time Tuesday afternoon, the Tigers were ranked No. 16 in the OSAA Class 6A rankings. If that ranking holds or improves, Newberg will host a home playoff game on Nov. 8.

"It seems like the kids are building a lot of excitement in the community," Hastin said. "I'm focused on the moment and trying to get these guys to improve every day and that's our philosophy as a team.

"It's hard not to think about it, though. We've got to stay disciplined and focused on this week, but it would be extremely exciting to host a home playoff game."

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