Motivated Bowmen run all over Liberty
SHERWOOD — Maybe it was about Senior Night.
Maybe it was about the conference title.
Maybe it was about the home field tradition.
Maybe it was about revenge.
No matter what it was, the Sherwood High School football team was certainly motivated — right from the start.
And the Bowmen turned all of that motivation into a dominating win over Liberty. Sherwood all but wrapped up the Pacific Conference championship by powering its way to a 56-7 win over the Falcons in a conference game played Friday at in front of a Senior Night crowd at Sherwood High School.
"It went well," said Sherwood junior lineman/linebacker Bryan Cuthbertson, who had a pair tackles for losses. "We had good preparation. It was Senior Night, and we had to come out for the seniors. We had a senior that wasn't able to play, so we wanted to do this for him. And, with this maybe being the last home game on this field, there are a lot of memories here, so we wanted to get it done."
"Senior night, this meant a lot to us," said Sherwood senior running back/defensive back Jamison Guerra, who had an interception return for a touchdown. "This could be our last game on this field. I hope not, we have the playoffs. But, it's the last regular-season game here. There's a lot of tradition here on this field."
"It felt really good," Sherwood junior lineman Noah Culbertson said. "We played hard as a team, we had a great first half and a great finish. We did really well today."
With the win, coming in the final regular-season home game at Aaron Contreras Stadium, before the Bowmen move to a new high school next year, Sherwood improved to 3-0 in Pacific Conference play (6-2 overall), putting the Bowmen all alone in first place in the league standings, one game ahead of Newberg and Glencoe with one game to play.
"Yeah, that's important, because last year, we lost to them and didn't get the league title we wanted," Cuthbertson said. "So, this year, it was important to beat them this time and get the league title."
"That was part of our motivation," Culbertson said. "We wanted to get that league championship. We wanted to get some payback from last year."
A year ago, Liberty got a 40-33 home win over the Bowmen, giving the Falcons the Pacific Conference championship. That turned out to be even more motivation for Sherwood this year.
"It was really sweet revenge," Guerra said with a smile. "That one hurt a lot last year, so we had to come back and redeem ourselves."
"Yeah, there's always a little bit of payback, a little bit of revenge against the teams you lost to, so that was part of it," Cuthbertson said.
With the loss, Liberty moved to 1-2 in Pacific Conference games (5-3 overall), putting the Falcons in a tie with McMinnville for fourth place in the conference standings.
"We knew that this game would be tough," Liberty sophomore quarterback Hiro Diamond said. "Overall, we had a great week of practice, but we didn't come though with what we thought was going to happen tonight."
The motivated Sherwood squad got off to a roaring start to Friday's game. The first time they had the ball, the Bowmen quickly moved the ball upfield. A 32-yard run by junior Clay Peden, and an 18-yard run by senior Lucas Voss, set up Peden's fourth-down 6-yard touchdown run, giving Sherwood a 7-0 lead with 8 minutes and 35 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
The Bowmen defense struck for the next score. On Liberty's ensuing possession following Peden's TD, Guerra intercepted a Falcon pass and returned the ball 38 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown that pushed the lead to 14-0 with 7:27 left in the opening period.
"It was a great way to start the game," Guerra said. "We were in man coverage, and it was a little bit of an errant throw, I think. Once I secured it, I was just right up the sideline. That was awesome. That felt great."
Following a bad snap on a Liberty punt, Sherwood tacked on another touchdowns. This time, it was senior Caleb Hagan scoring on a 1-yard run, pushing the lead to 20-0 with 3:38 left in the first period.
The next time Sherwood had the ball, a 20-yard pass from sophomore Bjorn Bergstrom to junior Jackson Hughes helped set up a 21-yard touchdown run by junior Jack Causey. A 2-point conversion pass from senor running back Brody Stevens to senior tight end Blake Jensen gave the Bowmen a 28-0 lead with 44.8 seconds left in the first quarter.
Trying to fight back, Liberty then put together a scoring drive of its own, moving the ball 80 yards in 14 plays. Passes for 12 yard from Diamond to junior Xanden Unciano and 21 yards from Diamond to junior Rolando Alfaro set up a 7-yard touchdown pass from Diamond to senior Jaxson Lake, which trimmed the Sherwood lead to 28-7 with 8:18 left in the second quarter.
"That was one of the good drives we had, playing our sense of football. We were just pass, pass, pass, and then hit them with the run when they extended the defense," Diamond said. "And we've been working on that route all week, Jaxson Lake faking the block, and then rolling out, and then me reading the press coverage. I knew he'd catch it."
Sherwood answered back right away. Passes of 12 yards from senior quarterback Gavin Evans to Jensen, and 11 yards from Evans to junior receiver Jacob Pollock, helped set up a 1-yard touchdown blast by junior Holden Gilbert, upping the Bowmen lead to 35-7 with 5:19 left in the second quarter.
Sherwood then scored again before halftime, getting a 3-yard TD run by Voss, coming with 28 seconds left in the second quarter, giving the Bowmen a 42-7 halftime lead.
"That was a goal," Culbertson said of the strong first-half showing. "Most of the season, we've been a second-half team, but we wanted to play well the whole game."
In the second half, Sherwood got a 5-yard touchdown run by Sam Fangon and a 70-yard scoring run by junior Carson Stamback to wrap up the scoring in the 56-7 victory.
"It was awesome," Guerra said. "It was great to go up by that much, at halftime, and then ride that through the second half. That's exactly what we wanted to do to clinch the league title."
"That's what we've been working on, coming out strong and playing 48 minutes of good football," Cuthbertson said. "We haven't been doing that in the past. We've started off slow and then got into it, or started off fast and then let off a bit, so we really worked on keeping that high-paced tempo and flying around the whole game."
Sherwood, as a team, rushed for 337 yards on 40 carries. Stamback led a balances Bowmen rushing attack with 70 yards on his one carry, coming on the Bowmen's final offensive play of the game. Peden ran for 51 yards on four carries. Voss had 46 yards on six carries and Junior Tai Stormont had 41 yards on three carries. All told, Sherwood had 15 different players run the ball at least once, with seven different players reaching the end zone.
The Bowmen offensive line, including Cuthbertson, Culbertson, senior Zhayan Perez, junior Sam Shayegi and senior Ian Glenn, among others, was likely a big reason for the Bowmen's rushing success.
"It was great," Culbertson said. "We opened some big holes."
Bergstrom completed five of eight passes for 57 yards. Evans completed three of six passes for 45 yards. Jensen had three receptions for 37 yards.
For the Bowmen defense, senior Nick Severson, junior Jacob Williams, Causey and senior Kaden Flesher each had a tackle for a loss. The Bowmen defense limited Liberty to 196 yards of total offense.
"We knew what we had to do, and we did it," Cuthbertson said. "We executed."
For the Falcons, Diamond completed 13 of 22 passes for 94 yards. Unciano had three catches for 21 yards. Senior Marquis Brown had four receptions for 12 yards and senior running back Jaison Ochoa had three catches for 20 yards. Junior Bryce Wunderly was Liberty's leading rusher with 19 yards on four carries.
For the Liberty defense, Brown, senior Cole Smith and Wunderly each had a tackle for a loss.
"This game just taught me that, when you face adversity, you just have to flush it," Diamond said. "Don't ever look back on it. The only time you need to look back on it is to use it as a learning experience."
Both teams will be back in action with regular-season finales on Friday. Sherwood will play at Century and Liberty will host McMinnville in Pacific Conference games starting at 7 p.m.
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