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Despite lopsided loss in the league title game, Woodburn still posts best record in decades and qualifies for playoffs.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Woodburn senior Ty Beyer was responsible for one of two Bulldog touchdowns in the district title game against Estacada. Woodburn lost to Estacada 58-12 on Oct. 28.

Woodburn football's final game of the regular season was one of importance. The Bulldogs were playing for their first league title in decades and with a chance to host in the first round of the playoffs. They toted a 4-0 league record into the game, but so did their opponent, Estacada.

Estacada showed no mercy to the upstart Woodburn team, soundly beating the No. 12-ranked team 58-12.

It was largely a game the Bulldogs want to put behind them as the playoffs loom large in the coming week, but there were bright spots. The resolve the team showed against an opponent who had their number was one, according to Woodburn head coach Rob Kassebaum.

"I'm very proud of them because that's one of those lessons we're trying to teach about handling adversity and those things well," Kassebaum said. "I'm really proud of that, we've grown from that from earlier in the year. They're going to continue battle. I guess I've already said I'm proud of them, but that's true."

The two teams wore identical 7-1 overall records into the contest, but apart from league foes the non-league opposition was quite different. Woodburn collected non-league wins against Klamath Union, St. Helens and Seaside, teams that will miss the postseason, and were defeated at the hands of No. 6 Tillamook.

Estacada, meanwhile, dropped its season opener to No. 1 Mazama, then picked up wins against No. 7 Scappoose, No. 2 La Grande and Astoria. The strength of the regular season finale opponent was something Kassebaum noted, and the battle testing was ultimately what made the difference.

In the game, the lone Woodburn touchdowns came from senior running back Ty Beyer and starting quarterback Kaleb Robles, both on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Cruz Veliz was not in pads for the game but is expected to play in next week's first round matchup.

The end of the regular season also marked something of a milestone for the Bulldogs. With a record of 7-2, it was just the third time since 1991 that Woodburn had tallied a winning season; and with a guaranteed spot in the playoffs, it marks just the second time since 1973 that the football team will have reached the postseason.

The growth of the players and program is something Kassebaum noted.

"I'm really proud to see the evolution of the players, the seniors especially, they've been a part of a couple winning seasons," Kassebaum said. "Not being happy with the laurels and wanting to continue and set the bar a little higher. I'm really proud that's the expectation that we've set here."

Kassebaum, who coached championship winning teams at Nyssa in the mid-2000s, noted several similarities between the 2022 Woodburn squad the teams he led to gold.

"Some players with good football IQ, high football IQ, really quality coaching staff," Kassebaum said. "And really the most important thing is kids that are good teammates to each other and enjoy being around each other and in each other's company. When we have team dinners and stuff, we have to shoo them out of the building because they want to hang out with each other so much. That goes a long way to have people want to battle for each other and stick through."

Woodburn (7-2, 4-1 in league) will face an opponent yet to be determined, but likely Tillamook (6-2).

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