Garrison, Jenkins go out with a victory
HILLSBORO — For Nic Garrison and Zach Jenkins, it was the perfect way to end their high school football careers.
But, for Garrison and Jenkins, both 2018 Sherwood High School graduates, victory was just part of the story.
For them, as well as recent Tualatin graduates Ryan Mitton and Lucas Noland, the game — the Les Schwab Bowl — was just the culmination of a special week.
"It was really special. I was really honored to get asked to play here," Jenkins said. "I had a great week with these dudes, and I made a lot of memories, for sure."
"It meant a lot," Garrison said. "I got to meet people that I played against this season, and come together as friends. It was just amazing."
Jenkins and Garrison helped the North team get a 24-7 win over the South squad, which included Mitton and Noland, at the 71st-annual Les Schwab Bowl, a high school football all-star game, which featured many of the top graduating Class 6A and Class 5A players from around the state, played Jan. 16 at Hillsboro Stadium.
"I'll remember this forever," Jenkins said after the game.
"It was an awesome experience," Noland said. "Going into the week, I was kind of hesitant about it, because I didn't know anybody. Coming from the Portland area, I didn't know much about these guys I was going to be playing with, but, over the week, we bonded and we had an incredible time. A lot of new friendships."
"It was an honor to be chosen," Mitton said. "It was a good experience."
With the victory, the North team took a 34-33-4 lead in the all-time series — the sides came into Saturday's contest with the series all knotted up.
"It was a tied series, and we just broke that, so we're pretty happy about it," said Jenkins, who played at running back for the North team.
"It was very important," said Garrison, who played on the offensive line for the victors. "The series was tied, and to get that one-up was all we wanted."
And, it appeared, that the South team was also determined to get the win. In the first possession of the game, the South defense, with Noland starting at safety, forced the North to quickly punt.
The South offense, with Mitton starting at left tackle, then moved 99 yards in 16 plays, culminating the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass from South Medford quarterback Robbie Patterson to his South Medford teammate, Jaylin Parnell, giving the South a 7-0 lead with 6 minutes and 8 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
The North came back with a 71-yard interception return for a touchdown by Grant's Grant Ewell Jr. The 2-point conversion gave the North an 8-7 lead with 11:58 left to play in the second quarter.
The North defense then came up with a safety, coming with just 46 seconds left to play in the second quarter, to up its lead to 10-7 at halftime.
The North team upped the margin to 17-7 early in the fourth quarter, on a 13-yard run by Grant quarterback DeMarques Singleton.
The North then put the game away with a 67-yard, 17-play drive later in the period, with Jenkins and Garrison both helping key the scoring drive.
Jenkins carried the ball twice for the North squad during the drive. Garrison then had a big downfield block on the scoring play, an 18-yard touchdown pass from Clackamas quarterback Mitchell Modjeski to Gresham's Levi O'Connell, coming with 5:05 left to play in the game.
"It was awesome," Garrison said of the scoring play. "I went downfield on the screen. I blocked one dude, and Levi O'Connell bounced out and ran into the end zone. It was great."
O'Connell's touchdown wrapped up the scoring in the North's 24-7 victory.
"This was very fun," Garrison said.
"It went OK," Mitton said. "We would have liked to have won, but it was good."
And, while the game itself was important to both sides, that's not what made the week full of team activities special.
"It was a little weird at first, being here with guys I'd played against, but, once we started hanging out, I got to know them and I had a blast," Garrison said. "I have a lot of new friends."
"The best part was just hanging out with these guys," Jenkins said. "We stayed up late, just talking. Coming in, I just tried to keep an open mind about everybody."
"This was awesome. I'd recommend it to anyone. The week was awesome," Noland said. "A day in, we were making some strong relationships, and it was awesome. I was blessed. We're disappointed that we didn't win, but I got all of these guys' numbers, and we'll stay in contact for a long time."
"It was great being with all the guys, building friendships and playing football," Mitton said.
For the game, Jenkins, who plans on walking on with the University of Montana this fall, carried the ball four times for nine yards.
"I'm glad I got to touch the ball and was a part of it," Jenkins said with a smile.
Garrison is set to play college football at Minot State University, located in Minot, N.D.
"This was great, helping me get back into the flow of thing," Garrison said, adding that Minot Stat is looking for him to play at defensive tackle "I'm very excited for it."
Noland, who was in on two tackles, including a tackle for a loss, will be going to the University of Oregon, where he will be a preferred walk-on for the Ducks.
"I leave next Saturday. I've been training a lot, and this was an awesome experience, to help ready," Noland said. "It was awesome to get out here and get a game in. It's been awhile since I've put on the pads, so I was real excited that I got to come out here and hit a little bit. I made it through safely, and it was good to get some work in, outside of training."
Ewell was named the Most Valuable Player of the Les Schwab Bowl.