The Tigers will face Clackamas in a Class 6A football state semifinal tilt Friday

DAN BROOD - Tigard's (from left) Carter Dennis, Drew Carter and Braden Lenzy celebrate following Carter's touchdown run in the Tigers' 24-21 quarterfinal win over West Linn.Last year, the Tigard High School football team reached the semifinal round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

But the Tigers came up one game short of making it to the state championship game, as they fell 35-34 in double overtime to Central Catholic in the semifinal round.

Last year, Clackamas also reached the semifinal round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

But the Cavaliers also came up one win short of getting to the Class 6A title tilt, as they lost 41-20 to eventual state champion West Linn.

Well, one year later, Tigard and Clackamas again have earned spots in the semifinal round of the state playoffs.

But, this year, either the Tigers or the Cavaliers are going to advance to the Class 6A state championship contest. That's because they're going to face off against each other in a state semifinal game, set to be played Friday, starting at noon, at Hillsboro Stadium.

"All year, we've wanted to get back to the semifinals," Tigard senior running back Jake Leavitt said following the Tigers' 24-21 win over West Linn in a state playoff quarterfinal game played Friday at West Linn High School. "We did it. We get another shot."

"I'm super excited for it," Tigard freshman quarterback Drew Carter said.

"It should be a lot of fun," Tigard junior fullback/linebacker Carter Dennis said.

Clackamas, the Mt. Hood Conference champion, and the No. 2 team in the final OSAA power rankings, comes into Friday's semifinal game with a perfect 12-0 record.

"They're 12-0 for a very good reason," Tigard coach Craig Ruecker said of the Cavaliers. "They're very good on both offense and defense. On defense, they're very fast. On offense, they have some real playmakers."

The Clackamas offense, which is averaging a Class 6A best 49.5 points a game, is led by senior quarterback Mitchell Modjeski (6-foot-2, 190 pounds), who was named the Mt. Hood Conference Player of the Year.

For the season, Modjeski has completed 181 of 245 passes for 2,777 yards, with 28 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Senior receiver Cole Turner (6-6, 210) is Modjeski's favorite target. Turner, a first-team All-Mt. Hood Conference selection, has 68 catches for 1,172 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Senior receiver Aric Bergers (6-1, 170), a second-team All-MHC pick, has added 39 receptions for 535 yards and senior tight end Chad Bletko (6-2, 225), a first-team all-conference pick, has 25 catches for 488 yards and six touchdowns.

James Millspaugh (5-11, 185), an honorable mention all-conference pick, is Clackamas' leading rusher on the season, with 1,279 yards and 25 touchdowns on 160 carries.

The Clackamas offensive line is anchored by senior tackle Hudson Bishop (5-10, 215), who was a first-team all-conference selection. Sophomore guard Alex Hall (6-2, 260) and senior center Dash Johnson (5-7, 180) were both second-team all-conference selections. Junior tackle Brian Espinoza (6-5, 250) and senior guard Devin Fogarty (5-10, 250) were each honorable mention all-conference picks.

The Tigard defense, which has been especially strong against the run all season, is looking forward to the challenge of slowing the Cavaliers.

"We'll finalize our game plan, and be ready to go," Dennis said. "Our defensive run stop is amazing. We have to lock them down."

The Clackamas defense is led by junior linebacker Jake Bushman (5-10, 210) and senior linebacker Jakobe Erskine (6-3, 198), who were both first-team All-MHC selections. In the defensive line, the Cavaliers have two more first-team all-conference players in juniors Justice Pagan (6-2, 215) and Kelson Hennessy (6-5, 250). Pagan leads the team with seven quarterback sacks on the season.

Senior safety Braelen Bettles (6-1, 185) is another first-team all-conference pick on defense for the Cavaliers. Senior safety Kyle Kirsch (5-11, 165) is a second-team All-MHC selection.

DAN BROOD - Tigard senior Skylar Holloway (with ball) had two intereptions to help key the Tigers' quarterfinal win at West Linn. Tigard will likely need another strong defensive effort in Friday's semifinal game with Clackamas.Tigard, the Three Rivers League co-champion, and the No. 6 team in the OSAA power rankings, is 9-2 on the season.

And, the Tigers are ready to put in everything it takes to be ready for Friday's semifinal contest.

"It's going to take a lot of hard work," Tigard junior running back Malcolm Stockdale said. "We need to keep doing what we've been doing."

"Clackamas is a tough team," Carter said. "We're going to have to battle and practice hard to be ready."

"This is great," said Tigard senior defensive back Skylar Holloway, who had a pair of key interceptions in the quarterfinal win at West Linn. "We'll get a game plan prepared and we'll practice hard all week to get ready."

Tigard brings a five-game winning streak into Friday's semifinal game. The Tigers have mainly done that behind a power running game, and a swarming defense.

Tigard also got a big weapon back on both offense, and defense, with the return of senior Braden Lenzy (6-1, 177). The speedy Lenzy, who missed four games with a knee injury, before returning to action in the quarterfinal win at West Linn, shared both the Three Rivers League Offensive, and Defensive, Player of the Year honors.

For the season, on offense, Lenzy has rushed for 420 yards, and four touchdowns, on 42 carries. He also has a team-best 21 receptions for 418 yards and three touchdowns.

Senior Spencer Smith (5-10, 175), is Tigard's leading rusher on the season with 855 yards, and 11 touchdowns, on 149 carries. Stockdale (5-8, 165) has added 832 yards, and 12 TDs, on 140 carries. Leavitt (6-0, 200), who has come on late in the season, has ran for 379 yards, and five scores, on 92 carries.

Carter (6-2, 175), who took over the starting quarterback duties four games into the season, has completed 53 of 105 pass attempts for 910 yards, with eight touchdowns and three interceptions.

Junior tight end Noah Jackman (6-2, 219), an honorable mention All Three-Rivers League pick, has 10 receptions for 154 yards and four touchdowns.

Tigard's offensive line features four first-team all-league picks in seniors Sean Ryan (6-0, 282), Burke Albaugh (6-4, 310), Laytan Tanuvasa (6-2, 270) and junior Isaia Tavita Porter (6-0, 240).

Tanuvasa, the TRL Defensive Lineman of the Year, helps anchor the Tigard defense. Porter and Jackman were both second-team all-league picks on the defensive line.

Tigard junior Mitchell Cross (6-0, 188) and senior Kyle Bay (6-3, 212) were both first-team selection at linebacker. Dennis (5-10, 202) and senior Jacob Beck (5-8, 200) were both honorable mention all-league picks at linebacker.

Braden Lenzy was a first-team all-league pick, and sophomore Max Lenzy (5-9, 162) was a second-team all-league selection at cornerback. Smith was a second-team selection, and senior Nick Heinke (6-3, 188) was an honorable mention all-league pick at safety.

"We need to continue to do a good job on defense," Ruecker said of Friday's upcoming semifinal game. "On offense, while we did do some good things, we did not finish a couple of drives. We left some points out there. We have to do better at that."

"The key for us is going to be hard work and staying focused," Stockdale said. "If we focus, we can play with anyone. We can achieve it."

"Clackamas is a tough team," Carter said. "We're going to have to battle and practice hard to be ready."

"We'll get better," Leavitt said. "We'll come with a game plan. We get another chance. We're so excited about it."

Lake Oswego, which shared the Three Rivers League title with the Tigers, will face South Medford in the other Class 6A semifinal game, which will be played at 5 p.m. at Hillsboro Stadium.

The winners of Friday's two semifinal contests will meet in the Class 6A state championship game, which will be played Dec. 2.

Tigard and Clackamas have met in the semifinals before, with the Tigers getting a 12-0 win in a 2003 Class 4A state semifinal game played at PGE Park. Tigard went on to win the state championship that year.

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