Sherwood, aiming to be the best-ever Class 5A team, rolls to semifinal win

by: DAN BROOD - WE WIN -- Sherwood seniors (from left) Keegan Lawrence, Ryan Pino and Travis Kotowski celebrate the Bowmen's 57-12 semifinal win over Ashland.EUGENE — The Sherwood High School football team wants to be the best.

The best ever, that is.

And, while the Bowmen haven’t reached that pinnacle yet — at least for one more week — they very likely made believers out of Ashland.

Sherwood continued the dominance that is has enjoyed all season long by powering its way to a 57-12 win over a physical, talented, previously-unbeaten Ashland squad in a Class 5A state playoff semifinal game played Saturday at Autzen Stadium.

“We want to be the most dominant (Class) 5A team ever,” Sherwood junior tight end/linebacker Zak Taylor said after the game. “We want to go out on top.”

by: DAN BROOD - POWER RUNNER -- Sherwood senior fullback Jake Reimer (47) takes off for a 62-yard run in Saturday's semifinal win over Ashland.“We want to go out as the best,” Sherwood senior lineman Travis Kotowski said. “We’ve wanted this since third grade.”

Ashland, the Midwestern League champion, finished its season with a final overall record of 11-1.

Sherwood, the Northwest Oregon Conference champion and defending Class 5A state champ, improved to 12-0 on the season with the semifinal victory. The Bowmen also advanced to the Class 5A state championship game for the fourth straight year. Sherwood will play West Albany for the state crown Saturday, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Hillsboro Stadium.

“I’m so excited for next week,” Kotowski said. “I wish we were playing tomorrow.”by: DAN BROOD - LEADING THE WAY -- Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence puts his index finger in the air following a Bowmen touchdown.

“This means a lot to us,” said Sherwood senior fullback/linebacker Jake Reimer, who was one of three Bowmen backs to rush for more than 100 yards in the semifinal victory. “Four in a row. It would be sweet if we went out as back-to-back champions.”

Sherwood, which has outscored its 12 opponents by a 733-115 margin this season, struck first in Saturday’s game. A 30-yard run by senior fullback Mickey Schaefer set up a 1-yard touchdown blast by Schaefer. Senior Keegan Lawrence added a two-point conversion run to give the Bowmen an 8-0 lead with 7 minutes and 3 seconds left in the first quarter.

by: DAN BROOD - HERE COME THE BOWMEN -- The Sherwood High School football team takes the field prior to the start of Saturday's Class 5A state playoff semifinal game played at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. Ashland, in its ensuing possession, methodically moved the ball all the way to the Bowmen 3-yard line before eventually giving up the ball on downs.

From there, it didn’t take long for Sherwood to strike again. Reimer had runs of 62 and 13 yards to help set up Lawrence’s 23-yard TD run. Taylor pulled in a two-point conversion pass to up the lead to 16-0 with 10:14 remaining in the second quarter.

The Grizzlies came back to cut the lead to 16-6 with 4:50 left in the half, thanks to an acrobatic 20-yard touchdown catch by sophomore receiver Shashi Penn who, while tightly covered in the end zone, dove to bat the ball into the air before catching while lying on his back for the score.

Sherwood quickly answered back. A 22-yard run by Schaefer set up a 38-yard scoring scamper by Lawrence, which upped the margin to 22-6 with 3:30 remaining in the second quarter.

And the Bowmen weren’t done yet.

After the Sherwood defense forced a quick three-and-out, and following a short Ashland punt, the Bowmen quickly reached the end zone again. Reimer capped off the quick three-play, 39-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring blast, pushing the lead to 30-6 with 1:59 left in the half.

by: DAN BROOD - TEAM DEFENSE -- Sherwood seniors Spencer Clay (20) and Keegan Lawrence bring down Ashland junior Parker Layton.Sherwood would take the 24-point advantage to halftime. But, once the second half started, it didn’t take long for the Bowmen to add to their lead.

On the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Schaefer sprinted 66 yards up the middle for his second touchdown of the game, upping the margin to 37-6.

“That was nice,” Schaefer said of his two-touchdown day. “But I don’t care who scores, as long as we win.”

Next, it was Reimer’s turn to get to the end zone again. Reimer, after catching a quick pass from senior quarterback Kevin Larkin on the right side of the field, ran down the sideline — with a convoy of blockers around him — to complete a 42-yard TD pass play that made the score 43-6 with 9:02 left in the third quarter.

“That was my first touchdown reception in high school,” Reimer said with a smile.

Ashland got a 50-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Danial White to Penn to make the score 43-12, but the Bowmen answered with a 25-yard touchdown run by senior Tanner Shadbolt and a 1-yard TD run by Nick Dickson to cap off their 57-12 victory.

“This went really well,” Sherwood senior defensive lineman Martin by: DAN BROOD - ZAK ATTACK -- Sherwood junior tight end Zak Taylor (9) heads upfield after catching a pass from senior quarterback Kevin Larkin (16).Layna said. “This team is one big brotherhood.”

“It was good to get a full game in,” Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence said. “The kids played extra well.”

“Our No. 1 goal was to get to the championship,” said Keegan Lawrence, who, on Saturday, played in the fourth quarter of a game for the first time this season. “Now, our goal is to win it.”

“This is huge,” Sherwood senior guard/linebacker Andrew Rice said. “This was pretty fun. Four in a row.”

“This means everything to us,” Taylor said. “We put in so much hard work. It’s nice to see it pay off.”

“I never had so much fun,” Kotowski said with a big smile on his face.

Kotowski, Rice and fellow Sherwood linemen Cam Theimann, Nick Aspen and Saul Urzua helped pave the way for Sherwood to rush for 486 yards on 43 carries in the victory.

“They’re the best offensive line in the state,” Lawrence said.

Schaefer led the Sherwood rushing attack with 168 yards on 12 carries. Lawrence ran for 123 yards on 14 carries and Reimer had 117 yards on eight carries.

“That’s crazy,” Rice said of three backs with more than 100 yards. “We play for each other — we play for Sherwood.”

“One of the best feelings is seeing our buddies go for over 100 yards,” Kotowski said.

Larkin completed all four of his pass attempts for 64 yards.

For the Sherwood defense, Layna had a quarterback sack, Kotowski and junior Mason Rivers each had a tackle for a loss, sophomore Kobe Higgins had an interception and senior Jordan Kurahara blocked an Ashland pass.

The Bowmen limited Ashland to 317 yards on total offense.

by: DAN BROOD - WE HIT LAST NIGHT -- The Sherwood High football team sings its victory song after its semifinal win over Ashland.“Monty (Sherwood defensive coordinator Wes Montgomery) does a great job getting all the kids in the right place,” Greg Lawrence said. “We may bend, but we don’t break.”

For Ashland, White completed 19 of 40 pass attempts for 210 yards and he rushed for a 32 yards on seven carries. Penn had five catches for 97 yards.

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