Tualatin ready for battle at Jesuit
The Tualatin High School football team last played in a Class 6A state playoff quarterfinal game back in 2010, when then Timberwolves got a 24-14 victory at South Salem.
Well, the Timberwolves are back — and they're looking at a big challenge.
Tualatin, thanks to a 50-35 home win over North Medford in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs on Nov. 15, are returning to the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs, where they'll face Jesuit in a game set to start at 7 p.m. Friday at Jesuit High School.
"We're excited," Tualatin senior defensive end Jake Reser said following the victory over North Medford. "We need to just play our game, and we can get to the next round."
"We need to come out and play like we did today, that's hard and physical," Tualatin senior tight end/linebacker John Miller said.
Jesuit, the Metro League co-champion, and the No. 2 team in the final OSAA power rankings, brings a 9-2 record into Friday's quarterfinal game. The Crusaders have won seven straight games, including a 70-24 home win over Liberty in the second round of the state playoffs.
"Jesuit is a very physical football team that will try and impose their will on you," Tualatin coach Dan Lever said of the Crusaders. "We're in for another physical match-up."
The Jesuit offense features a strong rushing attack, as the Crusaders run for an average of more than 322 yards a game. That rushing attack is led by senior running back Kade Wisher (5-foot-9, 160 pounds), an All-Metro League first-team selection, who has ran for 1,964 yards and 26 touchdowns on 220 carries. Senior Ted Atkinson (5-11, 174), a second-team All-Metro pick, has added 1,240 yards and 20 TDs on 155 carries.
Jesuit junior quarterback Jack Heyden (6-2, 175) has completed 78 of 140 pass attempts for 1,323 yards, with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions. Senior Joey Gatto (5-7, 160), a second-team All-Metro League slotback, is the Crusaders' leading receiver with 20 catches for 308 yards and fourth touchdowns.
As usual, Jesuit also features a powerful offensive line, including a pair of first-team All-Metro League picks in senior Shea Brooks (6-5, 240) and junior Charlie Pickard (6-5, 255). Senior tight end Lucas Christen (6-2, 232) and senior fullback Logan Horton (6-1, 227) were also first-team all-league picks.
On the defensive side of the ball, Horton and Christen at linebacker, Pickard on the defensive line, and senior defensive backs Campbell Brandt (5-8, 145) and Seth Welsh (5-10, 165) were all first-team All-Metro League selections.
Tualatin, the No. 2 team out of the Three Rivers League, and the No. 7 team in the OSAA power rankings, is also 9-2 on the season.
"This has been a really fun season," Lever said. "We've all enjoyed each other, and we've bonded throughout. Now, we need to stay focused and to continue to get better."
Tualatin, like Jesuit, features a high-powered offensive attack. The Timberwolves rushing game is led by senior Kainoa Sayre (6-0, 200), a first-team All-Three Rivers League selection, who has ran for 1,201 yards and 29 touchdowns on 152 carries. Sayre also has 27 catches for 345 yards.
The Wolves have a dual threat at quarterback in senior Blake Jackson (6-0, 190), who was a second-team all-league pick. Jackson has completed 111 of 165 pass attempts for 1,627 yards, with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Jackson has also ran for 535 yards on 89 carries, with three touchdowns. Sophomore Jackson Jones (5-11, 165), who also sees action at quarterback for Tualatin, has completed 39 of 73 passes for 692 yards, with eight touchdowns and one interception.
Miller (6-2, 220), a first-team all-league pick, is the Wolves' leading receiver with 32 receptions for 665 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior receiver Cade McCarty (6-1, 175) has 22 catches for 391 yards and three scores. Senior Luke Marion (6-1, 185) has 18 catches for 363 yards and six touchdowns, while also running for 319 yards and five more TDs. Sophomore Malik Ross (6-0, 170) has 24 catches for 321 yards and three touchdowns.
The Tualatin offensive line features a pair of first-team All-Three Rivers League selections in seniors Brett Gydesen (6-4, 245) and Cody Van Meter (6-2, 215).
The Tualatin defense is led by Miller, who was named the Three Rivers League Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row.
Reser and Van Meter were both first-team all-league picks on the defensive line. Jackson was a first-team selection at outside linebacker. Marion was a first-team pick at safety.
Now, all the Wolves are prepping for the quarterfinal clash.
"We need to have a great week of practice and keep on getting better," Gydesen said.
"We have to come out, have a great week of practice, and get ready for them," Sayre said.
"We're going to have to play well on both sides of the ball, and match their physicality," Lever said.
The winner of Friday's game at Jesuit will face either Lake Oswego or Lakeridge in a Class 6A state playoff semifinal game to be played Nov. 29 at Hillsboro Stadium.
Ticket prices for Friday's quarterfinal game at Jesuit are $8 for adults and $5 for students.
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