'Sharper' Lions turn focus into big win
MILWAUKIE — St. Helens' fortunes runneth over at Alder Creek last Friday.
The Lions ran over the host Milwaukie Mustangs for a wire-to-wire 49-21 football victory at the middle school.
St. Helens coach Cory Young recalled the Lions last playing there in 2001, when Alder Creek was Clackamas High. Young's 2019 squad made itself at home quickly by scoring the first five touchdowns on Sept. 20.
"They wanted to win," Young said, when asked what prompted his team's great start. "All week, we had good focus."
The Lions had opened the season on two losing notes, falling at home to Redmond and on the road to Hillsboro.
"Nobody likes losing," Young said. "The kids were a little sharper in practice going into the (Milwaukie) game. They were tuned in and ready to go."
The Mustangs seemed to be, too, after their 0-2 start, with losses to McMinnville and Putnam.
But the Lions forced and/or capitalized on Milwaukie's mistakes and showed they could be relentless on both sides of the ball and on special teams.
"The first half, we got some crucial turnovers on defense that gave our offense a short field," Young said.
The first Lions touchdown was a bit fortuitous, as St. Helens fumbled at the edge of the red zone but senior tight end Canon Beisley was able to pick up the ball and score from 19 yards with 5:12 left in the opening quarter.
"We were pretty fortunate. The ball squirted out of the pile, and Canon was there to pick it up and run it in," Young said.
Less than two minutes later, senior running back Kyle Parnell capped a short drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, and St. Helens had a 14-0 lead.
In the second quarter, junior quarterback Jakob Robbins passed for two touchdowns to boost the advantage to 28-0. Robbins hit junior wideout Chayton Leake-Morrison on a slant pattern for nine yards and junior wide receiver Hayden Bigham on a seam route for 18 yards.
With 3:41 left in the half, senior wing Austin Waite ran 10 yards to score, and Parnell's PAT (he made five in all) boosted the Lions to their 35-0 cushion.
"Austin had his best day of carrying the ball, he had some big carries," Young said. "He's been battling a little ankle sprain, but he stepped up and felt good at game time. He's put in a lot of hard work in the weight room and got a lot faster.
"And the offensive line, when they do it right, it's pretty fun to watch," Young said, "as far as them adjusting their blocks based on how the defense is playing, and with the guys pulling to make blocks, Jayden Smith, Max Jones, Garrett Cook, Caden Willaby and Juan Quiroz."
Milwaukie got one score back with a 30-yard touchdown pass 24 seconds before halftime.
"We were in a spot to make a play and got our hands on the pass, tipped it in the air, but they came down with the catch," Young said.
The second half was more even steven, with the Lions never in trouble, though, and getting two touchdown runs from the 1 by Parnell.
"There was no quit in Milwaukie," Young said. "They had a back (Korbyn Amundson) was breaking tackles left and right, we were having to swarm to get him."
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