West Linn football: Leavitt-to-Hamper combo fuels rout of Tigard
West Linn quarterback Sam Leavitt had a strong feeling that Lions' wide receiver Mark Hamper would have a big game Friday night, Oct. 14, against the Tigard Tigers.
He told him so in a text message the night before.
Hamper didn't just have a big game. He had a huge game, hauling in four of Leavitt's six touchdown passes to lead the Lions to a stunning 63-14 Three Rivers League blowout win over the previously undefeated Tigers at West Linn High School.
Gus Donnerberg and Wiley Donnerberg also caught touchdown passes and Koffi Kouame, Earl Ingle and Leavitt added scoring runs as the Lions (6-1, 2-1 Three Rivers) took over sole possession of first place in the league standings with two regular-season games remaining.
"This is what we expect," said Hamper, who caught touchdown passes of 65, 43, 30, and 3 yards. "We put in the work each week at practice and it leads to this. So, we know where this is coming from and we know what we've got to do for this to keep happening.
"We just put everything we've got into this game and it showed up on the scoreboard nicely for us."
What got into Hamper on Senior Night?
Said Hamper: "You know, Sam texted me last night and said I was going to have a big game, so I was ready to go today."
What exactly did the quarterback write in his text message?
Said Leavitt: "It was something along the lines of: 'Hey, I'm going to feed you. Be ready to go crazy.' And you saw what happened."
"Coming into the week, there are certain defenses that I can tell they're likely to run certain things against what we run. I just really liked how this game set up and I texted Mark, just knowing when I came out that I'd be looking to get him the ball."
Leavitt came out throwing, but not to Hamper. Instead, he tossed a 71-yard touchdown strike to Gus Donnerberg on the first play of the game — one of four first-quarter touchdowns for West Linn.
The Lions' other scores came on an eight-yard run by Leavitt, a 65-yard reception by Hamper and a nine-yard reception by Wiley Donnerberg that made it 28-0 with 3:30 to play in the first quarter.
While all that was going on, Tigard's offense was almost non-existent. The Tigers' first three possessions netted minus-10 yards, and by the time they earned their initial first down of the game, they were trailing by four touchdowns.
The Tigers (5-1, 2-1) had one six-minute stretch from late in the first quarter to early in the second when they looked as if they might make it a game.
First, running back Konner Grant scored on a one-yard run at the end of 12-play, 80-yard drive to make it 28-7 with 11:17 to play in the second quarter.
Next, linebacker Austin Goetz intercepted a Leavitt pass, setting up a four-play, 61-yard scoring drive. The drive included a 54-yard pass from quarterback Brady Jordan to wide receiver Nate Duenas and ended with Grant, the senior tailback, tossing a five-yard touchdown pass to backup quarterback Jake Feist to cut the deficit to 28-14 with 8:25 left in the half.
After that, though, it was all West Linn.
The first half ended with Kouame scoring on a five-yard run and Leavitt throwing touchdown strikes of 43 and 3 yards to Hamper. That extended the lead to 49-14 and set the stage for a running clock in the second half.
Tigard fumbled the second-half kickoff and two plays later, Leavitt again found Hamper, this time on a 30-yard touchdown pass that made it 56-14.
The Leavitt-to-Hamper connection has been one of the state's more prolific aerial combinations across all classifications. Leavitt finished the night completing 15 of 22 passes for 337 yards, while Hamper had a game-high six receptions for 166 yards
Through seven games, Leavitt has thrown for 1,868 yards with 21 touchdowns and four interceptions, and Hamper has 44 receptions for 855 yards and 13 TDs.
"I've thrown to a lot of different receivers in my life and he has a certain understanding of space that is truly incredible," Leavitt said of Hamper. "He understands when to sit on certain routes, he understands coverages like … it's truly crazy. A lot of props to him."
Added Hamper: "We don't want to sound cocky, but we know our limit and we know the ceiling, and we feel like we can put 50 on anyone in a half. We're just going to keep attacking it that way and see where it takes us."
West Linn finished with 528 yards of total offense to Tigard's 223. The Lions also had a significant advantage in plays that gained 20 yards or more with eight to the Tigers' two.
"That's a really good football team," Tigard coach John Kemper said. "We had some poor execution and … it was just a good night for them and not a great night for us.
"I think there were some missed tackles early on and not sustaining blocks. I don't know if we were a little too amped up, but it was just one of those nights where everything seemed to go right for them and everything didn't go right for us early.
"I think the biggest thing is how we respond. Are we going to dwell on this or are we going to come back and fight next week?"
The Tigard players insist they're ready to turn the page.
"Hey, it's football," senior lineman Matt Studer said. "I love my team and everyone messed up in a certain way tonight. But, hey, we're going to flush this one, learn from it, and, honestly, I do not care about this game anymore.
"I'm excited for the rest of the season. This was just one bump in the road. It's a long season and if we see them again in the playoffs, they better be ready. They're a great opponent. We knew that coming in. We're in a league right now where everyone is a great opponent. We're a great opponent. It's just that stuff happens sometimes."
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