Not champions, but still some of the best
I am still a neophyte in the sports reporting and sports writing world. I started working with the Wilsonville Spokesman a little over a year ago, and it's been a fun ride covering the school's athletes in their bids for gold and glory.
In that time, I've covered three of Wilsonville's teams that have made it to the precipice of a state championship. In the 2017-2018 season, I saw the boys basketball team make it to finals of the playoffs, and the girls cross country team took silver this year at the state meet in Eugene. Most recently, the football team came up just short of the title in the program's fourth shot at gold.
After seeing those teams succeed so thoroughly in the regular seasons, watching them come up just shy of their ultimate goal was nothing short of surprising. This is especially true of the Wilsonville football team this season.
When junior kicker Jacob Haussermann was forced to take three field goal tries at the games end (going 1-of-3 with two kicks blocked), and the horn sounded on the game, to see the scoreboard read 30-27 for Thurston was a bit of a shock. Every game I'd covered of the team up until that point had seen it either utterly dominant or able to find a way to win.
To start the season, Wilsonville dominated Crater with a 33-point advantage, a feat they would repeat more impressively in the postseason with a 78-45 score. In its second game of the season, the team hosted Churchill and won a 57-50 firefight against an early favorite in the title chase. Entering league play, Wilsonville throttled 5A debutantes Wilson, Forest Grove, Cleveland and Scappoose. Familiar league foes Hillsboro and St. Helens fared little better, with the former being shutout and the latter losing 67-14.
In the Special District 1 crossover to decide the league championship, Wilsonville handled then unbeaten Pendleton soundly, winning 53-7 and establishing itself as the team to beat at 5A. Heading into the postseason, it was impossible to see how any team could upend the explosive, defensively dominant Wildcats.
In the playoffs, inklings here and there pointed to routes to success against Wilsonville, but even then the Wildcats dominated Ridgeview, Crater and, in a defensive masterpiece, during a 28-7 win over West Albany.
In the aftermath of the state championship loss, two teams came to my mind that reminded me of Wilsonville. The first was Wilsonville's boys basketball team from last season. After cutting a swath through the Northwest Oregon Conference last year, the team went through playoffs (also besting Churchill) and squaring off with Thurston in the finals. That Thurston team had also split wins with Churchill, and had beaten Crater (after losing the first two encounters), and was a sizeable underdog heading into the finals.
The other team that comes to mind, rightly or wrongly, is the 2007 New England Patriots. After putting together an 18-0 run to the Super Bowl, New England suffered a huge upset to the New York Giants. At least on paper Wilsonville's run to the title and upset against a lower seeded opponent are a part of that story.
Apart from the last game, though, it's hard not to view the season in a generally positive light. Wilsonville quarterback Nathan Overholt broke the record for most passing touchdowns at 5A, the team became league champions over a myriad of new opponents and set the bar for a regular season run.
As I pointed out at the top of this column, I'm still relatively new to this profession. I'm not a grizzled vet, I haven't seen it all yet and I'm still in awe when I see teams work in such unison to such great effect. While a state title may have eluded Wilsonville, there is no doubt that the team is made up of a group of players who are some of the best to do it at this level.