A win streak is suddenly possible for the St. Helens Lions, who are 1-2 and coming off a 49-21 road win over Milwaukie.
And while the Lions might be able to pull off another victory Friday night at Wilson High, it's hard to imagine them winning in any more dramatic fashion than they did against the Trojans one year ago.
Flash back to Sept. 21, 2018. At St. Helens. Wilson 35, Lions 34. Less than a minute to go.
Wilson had just scored its second touchdown in one minute, 44 seconds. The Lions now had to drive most of the field, and at that point, their passing attack was a paltry 2 for 6, for 2 yards, with one interception.
But quarterback Jakob Robbins and wide receiver Cody Woodruff turned into the men of hour, with help from the pass-protecting St. Helens line.
After a couple of runs by the other backs, Robbins hit wide receiver Cody Woodruff for 11 yards on third-and-5. Then Woodruff hauled in a 31-yard pass. St. Helens spiked the ball to stop the clock. Then came a Hail Mary throw to the end zone — which Woodruff somehow came down with 20.5 seconds remaining.
"Pretty exciting," St. Helens coach Cory Young said this week, recalling what was a "back-and-forth nail-biter."
Wilson looked like it was going to be a winner through much of last year's game. "We were lucky to even be in the game" at halftime, Young said.
So, Young knows it will be a challenging Trojans team the Lions face at 7 p.m. Friday, even given Wilson is off to a 3-0 start.
"They were very competitive last week," Young said, after watching video of Wilson's 41-34 loss to Forest Grove.
It looked like a step in the right director for the Trojans after their losses to South Eugene 45-13 and Cleveland 53-20.
"They've come a long ways — watching on film, you can see they've gotten better every week," Young said. "They have some athletes and get them the ball in space. They're a spread (offense) team, kind of like Hillsboro (which beat St. Helens 54-14), but they'll also show in double-tight end sets with two running backs and try to run on you. You've got to be ready for both. They've got a couple good receivers, an H-back who has done some good things, a quarterback who is mobile enough to hurt you and a running back who, if you give him enough of a gap, can hit for some tough yardage."
The Lions improved, too, in their third game. They forced turnovers, blocked well, pursued well on defense and got key plays from a variety of skill players, including Robbins, who was 4 for 8 passing for two touchdowns and 70 yards, and hit Woodruff "right on the money," Young said, for a two-point conversion.
"Jakob completed some big passes in the red zone early, got on rack and played probably his best game this year. He scrambled out of the pocket, too. Showed that savvy pocket awareness like last year."
Kyle Parnell (10 carries, 105 yards, three TDs) and Austin Waite (12 rushes, 94 yards, one TD) did most of the running, with Jacobi Allen adding 41 yards on six carries. That helped Young use Mavrick Rask more exclusively on defense.
"Jacobi also had some great coverage on kickoffs and good kick returns to give us field position," Young said.
Up and down the lineup, the Lions had contributors. Two-way lineman Jayden Smith, a senior, recovered a fumble and continued his leadership role. Senior Jeremy O'Meara and sophomore Kameron Shuttlesworth each picked off a pass.
It'll take that kind of village to win at Wilson.
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