Games of the week: West Linn, Wilsonville vie for football titles
With the fall season just about to wrap up, there are just two games involving Clackamas County high schools this week.
They are two of the biggest games of the fall, however, as the football teams in West Linn and Wilsonville gear up for the state championship games on Black Friday.
Here are a few things to watch for in the title matchups.
6A Football State Championship Game
No. 1 West Linn vs. No. 2 Sheldon
Friday, Nov. 25, 3 p.m., Hillsboro Stadium
The 6A state championship comes down to a rematch of the top two teams in the state, the West Linn Lions and the Sheldon Irish. While the Lions carry the No. 1 ranking into the game, the Irish enter the title bout undefeated — and with a win over West Linn on their ledger.
When Sheldon made the trip north to West Linn on Sept. 8, the Irish punched the Lions in the mouth early by returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. After that, senior quarterback Brock Thomas threw for 241 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-31 win.
Now, West Linn will have to prove that it can shut down Thomas, who also is dangerous on his feet. Thomas threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in the semifinals against Tualatin.
One factor working in the Lions' favor? The development of senior Jackson Shelstad, a basketball star at the school who joined the football team after the Sheldon game.
The senior has been a revelation as both a wide receiver and cornerback, earning a spot on the All-Three Rivers League first team defense for his efforts. Most recently, he had two interceptions in the Lions' semifinal win over Central Catholic.
If Shelstad can help the West Linn defense keep Thomas and the Sheldon offense in check when these two teams meet again, it could make all the difference for the Lions.
5A Football State Championship Game
No. 1 Summit vs. No. 2 Wilsonville
Friday, Nov. 25, 7 p.m., Hillsboro Stadium
Just like in the 6A state championship, the 5A title game features the top two teams in the classification in a rematch from earlier in the season.
And just like West Linn, the Wilsonville Wildcats are out for revenge after losing the first meeting with the Summit Storm. When these two teams faced off on Sept. 24 in Bend, the Storm prevailed 33-21 as part of their current 11-game winning streak.
Wilsonville has been on a tear since that loss, though, reeling off eight consecutive wins of their own to get back to the state title game. A major reason for the success of the past two months has been the improvement of the Wildcats' defense.
After allowing more than 35 points per game over the first four weeks, Wilsonville has allowed under 10 per game during the past eight. That turnaround starts on the defensive line, where players like Mason Seal, Ryder McElroy and Jonatan Lazaro-Hampton have routinely won the battle up front.
Now, this group will try its best to bother Summit quarterback Hogan Carmichael, who threw for three touchdowns in the Week 4 win over Wilsonville. He also tossed three TDs in the Storm's 41-14 semifinal win over Thurston.
If the big boys on the defensive line can put more pressure on Carmichael, it could help Wilsonville get a better result when these teams meet again in the 5A state title game.
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