Tigard impressive in milestone victory
TIGARD — No. 300 was pretty darn impressive.
And, for the Tigard High School football team, it was pretty darn special.
The Tigers, clicking in a big way on offense, and swarming to the ball play after play on defense, rolled to a 58-14 win over Barlow in a non-league game played Friday at Tigard High School.
And, with the victory, Tigard head coach Craig Ruecker picked up career coaching win No. 300.
"He says it's all us, but he's a great coach," Tigard senior lineman Hayden McDonald said of Ruecker. "Everything he does is great, and everything he does is first class. We wouldn't be anywhere without him."
"Oh, that's amazing," Tigard senior receiver Jazz Ross said with a smile. "You know, Coach Ruecker has an amazing legacy, and it's great to play for him. Coach Ruecker has really helped me out during my career here at Tigard. So, to just help him get that 300th win feels great."
For Ruecker, who had coaching stints at Reynolds, Glencoe and Redmond before taking over the Tigard post in 2009, the win gives him a career coaching record of 300-153.
"This is the greatest team game that exists," Ruecker said. "And, while it is a nice honor, it's never about 'me' in this game, it's always about 'we' and, over my years of coaching, it's been about a great wife (Beverly) of 48 years, many, many wonderful assistant coaches and a lot of great players. That's what it's about. People are saying 'congratulations,' and that's really nice, but, in all of these years, I've never made a block and I've never made a tackle, so it's about the players and our assistant coaches that have done such a great job."
In addition to giving Ruecker his 300th career win, Tigard moved to 2-0 on the early season with its second straight impressive victory, coming against a Barlow squad that gave the Tigers all they could handle in a 42-35 Tigard win in a state playoff game a year ago.
"Oh, it's huge," McDonald said of the victory. "These guys almost got us last year, and I think we showed them, and we got their respect."
"Oh, it's a really big win," said Ross, who had a pair of long touchdown receptions. "Barlow, they're really tough. Last year, we played them in the playoffs, and they gave us a little bit of a scare, there, but we've really pulled together as a team, and we told each other that we really had to work hard in practice this week. We got the job done."
"This is pretty big," said Tigard senior Noah Jackman, who had three quarterback sacks. "Our team did well at practice this week, I give credit to all of my teammates. We worked really hard this week."
Barlow fell to 0-2 on the season with the setback.
"We started off well," said Barlow senior running back Jobadiah Malary, who scored both of the Bruins' touchdowns. "We started off laser focused, but it just kind of fell off the track and we need to back on board."
Tigard also seemed focused — very focused — to start the game.
The Tigers, in their first possession on the contest, quickly moved up field. A 25-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Drew Carter to Jackman set up senior Malcolm Stockdale's 21-yard touchdown run, which gave Tigard a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes and 15 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
The Tiger defense then got into the act. Tigard, getting quarterback sacks by Ross and junior Fletcher Ahl, forced the Bruins into a quick three-and-out. Tiger sophomore Spencer Kuffel returned the ensuing Barlow punt 26 yards, helping set up a 5-yard TD run by Stockdale. Junior Jackson Cleaver's second (of eight) extra-point kick gave Tigard a 14-0 advantage with 5:29 left in the opening period.
Barlow answered back, in a big way, as, on the ensuing Bruin possession, Malary sprinted 52 yards on a draw play for a touchdown, cutting the Tigard lead to 14-7 with 3:02 left in the first quarter.
But the Bruins couldn't get any closer.
A 1-yard touchdown run by Stockdale gave Tigard a 21-7 advantage with 5:59 left in the second quarter. On the next Tiger possession, Carter threw passes of 17 and 19 yards to Ross, setting up Stockdale's fourth touchdown run of the game, coming from nine yards out with just two seconds left in the period, giving Tigard a 28-7 halftime lead.
But Barlow, and Malary, started the second half with a bang. On the second play of the third quarter, Malary broke through a hole at line of scrimmage and sprinted 72 yards for a touchdown, which trimmed the lead to 28-14 with 11:08 left in the period.
"Man, that felt really good," Malary said. "It was just going to the hole and not looking back."
Again, Tigard answered back — with a big-play pass attack.
Following an interception by junior Max Lenzy, Carter threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Ross, making the score 35-14 with 7:15 left to play in the third quarter.
On the next Tiger possession, Carter and Lenzy teamed up on a 56-yard TD pass play, with Lenzy showing some nifty downfield moves and speed after catching a ball on the right side.
Then, after a punt by Barlow senior Chase Hallenius was downed at the Tigard 2-yard line, Carter, on a play-action pass, threw the ball downfield to Ross, who, after slipping away from a tackle attempt, sprinted to the end zone for a 98-yard touchdown, which upped the margin to 49-14 with 10:36 left to play in the game.
"I was just thinking catch the ball first," Ross said. "That felt great. I know my teammates were behind me, and we were all going to go celebrate in the end zone."
The Tigers also got a 4-yard touchdown run by junior Marat Vasilyan and a safety, when a bad snap on a Barlow punt bounded out of the back of the end zone, making the final score 58-14.
"Oh, this was really fun," Ross said. "Just getting Coach Ruecker his 300th win. I didn't even know about it until after the game, when they announced it, it was just amazing."
"This was the best," McDonald said. "It was so much fun."
Tigard, behind the offensive line of senior Mitchell Cross, senior Mahmud Mustafa, junior Johnny Nomani, McDonald, senior Carter Dennis and senior Isaia Porter, among others, had 566 yards of total offense in the win — 351 passing and 215 rushing.
"When we communicate, we do the job and get it done," McDonald said of the Tigard offensive line. "That's the biggest deal."
Carter, for the game, completed 10 of 18 pass attempts for 335 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. Ross had six receptions for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Stockdale led the rushing attack with 161 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries.
The Tigard defense limited Barlow to 171 yards of total offense, while coming up with seven quarterback sacks.
"I give credit to our whole defense," said Jackman, who had a tackle for a loss to go with his three quarterback sacks. "Our defense did well covering, as well as in the front. I give credit to Barlow. They had a good front line and they did a good job."
Ross, Ahl, sophomore Josh Schleichardt and sophomore Aden Murphy each had a quarterback sack. Nomani had a tackle for a loss and Lenzy had an interception.
For Barlow, Malary led all rushers with 167 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Bruin junior quarterback Jaren Hunter completed five of 14 pass attempts for 46 yards. Senior Charles Ndayizeye had three catches for 36 yards.
For the Barlow defense, junior Drake Payne had an interception, senior Ayden Hendrie had a quarterback sack and sophomore Carson Jensen had a tackle for a loss.
"We definitely learned that we can grow as a team," Malary said. "We can grow as ourselves, as well. I feel like we didn't play to our potential. It is what it is, but we'll look at film, see what's going on and make some changes."
Both teams will be back in action on Friday. Tigard will travel to Canby and Barlow will play at Gresham in games set to start at 7 p.m.