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St. Helens High football program wants to send its dozen seniors out on a high note

PMG PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - The St. Helens Lions will go on the road for their final game of 2019, when they play at Putnam on Friday night. Recent games haven't been kind to the St. Helens Lions — last week's loss to Forest Grove in their home finale included.

But the slate is wiped clean this week, and opportunity knocks as the Lions head to Putnam High.

It's the last game of the season — and most likely the final football game in the careers of 12 St. Helens seniors. A win would mean a lot, and enable the Lions to walk off with a good feeling.

"Our team's going to be really confident coming into our last game, because Coach (Cory) Young says all the time for everyone to fight for the seniors and keep battling," said St. Helens offensive tackle Caden Willaby, who is one of those seniors. "So I think we can come in with a great attitude and get a win."

Senior wide receiver/linebacker Cody Woodruff predicted the Lions would have a good week of practice for Putnam.

"We've got to go out with a bang," he said. "Hopefully we can get a win to inspire the juniors to do something next year."

The Lions walked off their home turf last Friday determined to play a better game this week than they did in the 28-14 loss to Forest Grove.

"We were already talking about it," said senior lineman Jayden Smith. "We said whoever gets us should be scared to have us."

The team they drew in the Special District 1 crossover system was Putnam, which is 1-6 overall and went 1-4 in league. The Kingsmen, who have lost five games in a row, got their victory on Sept. 13 at Milwaukie, downing the Mustangs 43-14. St. Helens also won at Milwaukie, posting a 49-21 victory.

Putnam is coming off a 44-6 loss last week to visiting Hillsboro. Hillsboro defeated St. Helens 54-14 on Sept. 13.

Putnam runs some wing-T offense, as do the Lions.

"There are some similarities in what they want to do offensively and what we want to do," Young said.

Young said the Kingsmen relied more on the pass earlier in the season but have "started to run the ball better the last five weeks or so. … So our defense had better be ready, because if you don't stop the play, you're probably going to see it the next four or five times in a row — counters, belly, sweeps — they want to control the ball, but if you take a bad angle or leave or miss a gap and they hit it, they can get some long runs or big plays. Or if you over-commit to the run, there's things they can get."

Putnam and Hilhi were scoreless through the first quarter last week. The Spartans then did most of their damage offensively through the air. Quarterback Kane Kiaunis passed for four touchdowns, to four different receivers, and the QB also ran for a TD.

Putnam got its only score in the fourth quarter, with 5-10, 175-pound senior Jadden Hall rushing 60 yards to cap a two-play drive of 65 yards.

Hillsboro, leading 37-6, added a final score on a 50-yard drive and 3-yard TD run with 25 seconds remaining.

The Kingsmen ran 40 times for 171 yards and completed 2 of 8 passes for 2 yards, with two interceptions.

Hall totaled 86 yards on the ground on 12 attempts, and 5-9, 165-pound senior Caleb Tovey had 53 yards on 17 carries.

Macellas Kenion, a 6-0, 165-pound senior who typically starts, and Jackson Brown, a 6-1, 200-pound sophomore, spent time at quarterback for Putnam, which also suffered three lost fumbles.

"Their quarterback is mobile," Young said.

Putnam opened its season with a 27-14 loss at home against Forest Grove, which won at St. Helens last week 28-14.

Young said the Lions know what's at stake.

"If you need a rah-rah speech at this point to get going, we're probably doing something wrong," he said.

However, he has pointed out one thing to his players — that this is their chance to sing the classic John Denver song they always sing in the locker room after winning a football game.

"The goal for us is to be singing 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' one last time come Friday night," Young said.

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