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Defending champ Liberty, as well as Newberg, may challenge Bowmen for the top spot

PMG FILE PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Sherwood High School senior running back Jamison Guerra should be a key player for the Bowmen this season, as they aim for the Pacific Conference championshipThe path to the Pacific Conference football championship might not be an easy one.

Young teams are a year older and a year stronger.

Last year's conference champ, Liberty, is establishing a strong tradition.

Talent and game-changing players can be found throughout the conference.

But, if Sherwood has its way, when everything is said and done, the Bowmen will be reigning supreme.

The Bowmen, after finishing with a 3-1 record last year, putting them in a tie for second place in the standings, is taking aim at the top spot this year.

"I think we're at the top," Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence said. "We have a good group of returning guys. I think we're the best, and we want to go out and show it."

While the Bowmen aren't afraid to state their ambitions, making them come true may not be so easy.

Liberty, after all, is the defending champion. The Falcons went 4-0 in conference play a year ago (9-3 overall), including a 40-33 home win over Sherwood in a game that ended up deciding the conference title.

The Falcons did graduate some key players, including quarterback Brad Norman, who was named the Pacific Conference Offensive Player of the Year, and first-team all-conference running back Aidan Maloney, just to name a few.

Liberty does have some key players back, including Marquis Brown, who was the conference Defensive Player of the Year, running back Cole Smith and receiver/defensive back Jaxson Lake.

"Liberty will always be right there," Lawrence said.

But that might not be the team that worries Lawrence the most.

"Of all the teams, the one I fear the most is Newberg," he said.

The Tigers have a strong group back from last year's team that, like Sherwood, went 3-1 (5-5 overall) in conference games.

"Coach (Kevin) Hastin has really changed the program there," Lawrence said. "And their kids have really bought into it."

The Tigers, who, like Sherwood, run the wing-T offense, return senior running back Justin Holtan, along with all-conference tight end Justin LaPointe and three starters on the offensive line.

"I think that we have the advantage in that they run the wing-T," Lawrence said. "We know all about the wing-T."

Glencoe, which went 0-4 (3-6 overall) in conference play last year, will be looking to get better under second-year coach Ian Reynoso, who is a former Tualatin assistant coach.

"Ian's done a good job, and they have some good players back," Lawrence said.

Senior Carson Wilson looks to be the Crimson Tide's starter at quarterback.

Century (3-6 overall) and McMinnville (5-5 overall), who both went 1-3 in conference games a year ago, will also be looking to get into the battle.

There are a number of key conference games coming up in the 2019 season.

Sherwood will play at Newberg on Oct. 18, and then the Bowmen will host Liberty on Oct. 25.

Liberty and Newberg don't play each other this season.

Conference play is scheduled to start on Oct. 10. That night, Sherwood will host McMinnville, Newberg will play at Century and Liberty will host Glencoe.

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