West Linn football prepares for Central Catholic in quarterfinals
It almost figures.
It almost figures that the West Linn football team would run into Central Catholic again.
The two teams — scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, in the Class 6A state quarterfinals at Hillsboro Stadium — are slated to play for the third in the past two years and for a fifth time in Lion head coach Chris Miller's six seasons with the team.
Needless to say, this one means a lot to both teams.
"We're playing all out and not holding anything back," said West Linn junior running back Gavin Haines, who leads his team with 1,452 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns on 178 carries. "We feel very happy with the position we're in right now and we'll be more than ready Friday."
"We have been waiting for a chance to see Central Catholic again all year and we feel very confident about the improvement we have made as a team since the week one loss," added sophomore linebacker Cole Peters, who leads the West Linn defense with an average of more than 11 tackles per game.
While the fifth-ranked Lions (8-3 overall) — winners of three straight games — are confident about Friday, they have no illusions about it being an easy game. The fourth-ranked Rams (9-2 overall after winning the Mt. Hood Conference) beat West Linn 35-27 back on Sept. 6, took the Lions into overtime in a West Linn win a year ago and traded two lopsided playoff decisions with the Lions before that (with West Linn beating Central 62-7 in the 2016 state title game, and the Rams knocking off the Lions 42-7 in the 2014 quarterfinals).
The Rams' offense is led by senior quarterback Cade Knighton (he's thrown for 2,544 yards with 30 TDs and four interceptions on 74 percent passing), senior running back Elijah Elliott (697 yards rushing and nine TDs on 90 carries), senior wide receiver Silas Starr (40 catches for 907 yards and 10 TDs), senior wide receiver Kalvin Souders (26 catches for 433 yards and nine TDs) and senior running back Miles Jackson (489 yards rushing and eight TDs on 40 carries), along with linemen Andrew Gross, Daniel Pham, Logan Nomura and Jordan Reed. Knighton was named the MHC Offensive Player of the Year.
On their side of the ball, the Lions are led by Haines, senior quarterback Ethan Coleman (3,098 yards and 39 TDs with 12 interceptions on 66 percent passing), senior wide receiver Tim Tawa (1,187 yards and 17 TDs on 64 catches), along with all-league linemen Luke Popma, Ryan Seth, Tucker Parrish, Zach Holmes and Kyle Dramov.
On defense, the Rams are led by senior lineman Braeden Veary (55 tackles including nine for loss), senior linebacker Joe Nizich (52 tackles including two for loss) and junior linebacker Jack Brown (51 tackles with 11 for losses). Nizich was named the MHC Defensive Player of the Year.
West Linn's "D," meanwhile, is led by Seth (60 tackles with 15 for loss, including 8.5 sacks), Peters (122 tackles with 15 for loss), junior linebacker Thomas McNamara (71 tackles with five for loss), senior linebacker Treyten Burke (70 tackles with two for loss), Tawa and senior Chase Fletcher.
Seth was named the TRL Defensive Player of the Year.
"Going forward, we need to practice like it's a game and know our assignments like the back of our hand," Haines added.
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