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Tualatin will play at home, Tigard and Sherwood both on the road for Friday's openers

PMG FILE PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School senior Josh Burns, and his Tiger teammates, will open the 2019 football season with a non-league game at Sunset on Friday.Excitement.



It's been building and building for weeks now. Maybe even months.

Well, the wait is almost over.

High school football is back, in full force, Friday night.

All three of the area teams — Sherwood, Tigard and Tualatin — are taking high hopes into the 2019 season, and all three squads will open the upcoming campaign with games on Friday.

Tualatin, which went 7-4 in the 2018 season, reaching the second round of the state playoffs, will jump right into Three Rivers League play on Friday, when it hosts Lakeridge in a league contest starting at 7 p.m. at Tualatin High School.

"We're looking forward to a great, competitive game with Lakeridge," third-year Tualatin coach Dan Lever said. "We're excited to get going."

The two teams didn't meet last year, when Lakeridge went 7-4 and also reached the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

The Pacers are led by senior running back Jalen John. Last year, John rushed for 1,727 yards and 23 touchdowns. Senior Cooper Justice, a left-hander, takes over as quarterback for Lakeridge.

PMG FILE PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tualatin High School senior Luke Marion, and his Tualatin teammates, will host Lakeridge in a Three Rivers League opener, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday.For Tualatin, senior running back Kainoa Sayre makes his return to action. Sayre, as a sophomore, earned first-team all-Three Rivers League accolades. But he missed his entire junior season due to injury.

The Wolves have many other talented players, including senior linebacker/tight end John Miller, who shared the Three Rivers League Defensive Player of the Year honor a year ago. Tualatin also features senior receiver/safety Luke Marion, senior receiver/cornerback Cade McCarty and senior linemen Cody Van Meter, Brett Gydesen and Jake Reser.

Tualatin senior Blake Jackson returns at quarterback. He's started 12 games over the past two seasons.

The Wolves and Lakeridge last met on Sept. 15, 2017, with Tualatin getting a 37-23 win in a game played at Lakeridge High School.

Tigard, under new head coach John Kemper, opens the season with a non-league game against Sunset, set to start at 7 p.m. at Sunset High School.

"They've got good talent all over the field," Kemper said of the Apollos. "They do good things on offense and defense. It's going to be a really good test for us."

Sunset, which went 7-4 a year ago, returns a talented dual-threat quarterback in senior Callum Craig.

For Tigard, junior Drew Carter returns for his third season as the Tigers' starting quarterback. Tigard also features senior receiver/defensive back Max Lenzy. Last year, Lenzy shared the Three Rivers League Defensive Player of the Year honor with Miller after intercepting 10 passes on the season.

Tigard, which went 10-2 in 2018, did lose some key linemen to graduation, but the Tigers return senior Johnny Nomani, who should be a force on both the offensive and defensive line.

The teams met in a season-opener a year ago at Tigard High School, with the Tigers getting a 54-30 victory.

PMG FILE PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Sherwood High School junior Clay Peden (37) carries the ball against Sandy in a 2018 state playoff game. The teams will meet again Friday at Sandy High School.Sherwood will open the season against a familiar foe, when it faces Sandy in a non-league game starting at 7 p.m. at Sandy High School.

The teams met in a season-opener a year ago, with Sandy, playing its first-ever game at the Class 6A level, surprising the Bowmen by getting a 24-7 victory in game played at Sherwood High School.

The teams met again later in the season, in a Class 6A first-round state playoff game, with the Bowmen getting revenge with a 42-14 victory.

"I think that showed where we were at the end of the season, compared to the beginning," Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence said. "We might have taken then lightly in that first game last year, but we won't take them lightly this year."

The Bowmen bring a powerful group of linemen and linebackers into Friday's game, including senior Nick Severson, Logan Carr and Ian Glenn, and juniors Bryan Cuthbertson and Noah Culbertson, among others. Sherwood also has a pair of speedy, athletic running backs in seniors Jamison Guerra and Caleb Hagan. Senior Gavin Evans may get his first start at quarterback for the Bowmen.

Sherwood went 5-6 on the season a year ago, while Sandy went 5-5.

In other season-openers involving Three Rivers League teams, West Linn will host Central Catholic, Canby will be home to play Lincoln, Lake Oswego travels to West Salem, and Oregon City will host Grants Pass. All of those games start at 7 p.m.

In other openers involving teams from the Pacific Conference, Glencoe will play Hillsboro at Hare Field, Newberg will host South Salem, Century will host Aloha, Liberty will be home to face Sprague, and McMinnville will play at Milwaukie.

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