The 2021 high school football season was a season like no other.
Not that the Wilsonville football team seemed to notice.
Facing a season shortened to six games by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wildcats did what they've always done — they went out, they played hard and they won football games.
Wilsonville — facing a schedule of the state's best Class 5A teams and three 6A squads — went unbeaten in its six games, knocking off Northwest Oregon Conference foes Scappoose, Canby and Forest Grove, and also dispatching three 6A teams — Beaverton, David Douglas and Barlow.
"This was a crazy year to say the least," said Wilsonville head coach Adam Guenther, who led the Wildcats to at least the state quarterfinals in each of the previous six years. "The win/loss record was great, but I was more pleased with how our team handled the continual daily changes."
Biggest among the team's challenges was just waiting to see whether Wilsonville would be allowed to play at all.
"I'm not sure how many times we started and stopped," Guenther said. "We are going to play, we're not going to play, fans, no fans — it was a year that wasn't fair. This group — and all groups — deserve so much more."
In order, here's which teams Wilsonville beat in 2021. The Wildcats opened with a 34-15 home win over Scappoose on March 5, knocked off Beaverton 30-14 at BHS on March 12, routed Forest Grove 59-22 at home on March 19, dumped David Douglas 35-6 at WHS on March 25, thumped Canby 37-14 at WHS on April 2, then closed out their campaign with a 24-20 victory at Barlow on April 9.
"We always tell our guys that how they approach and deal with adversity is what separates them from other people," Guenther said. "You can choose to complain, cry and point fingers — or you can prepare for what might happen. This group did an incredible job getting ready for whatever they were going to be given and then took full advantage of every opportunity."
Offensively, the Wildcats were led by senior quarterback Jayce Knapp, who threw for 1,001 yards on 68% passing with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Senior Lucas Graves led Wilsonville runners with 460 yards on 82 carries, while scoring two TDs. Among Cats' receivers, seniors Payton Dart and Josh McKenzie led the way with 386 yards each, Dart making 24 catches and scoring five TDs, while McKenzie had 23 catches and finished with four TDs.
On defense, senior linebacker Colby Guenther led Wilsonville with 57 tackles (13 solo) including three for loss, and one interception. Senior defensive back Chad Overholt added 40 tackles (17 solo), with three sacks and 10 tackles for loss. And senior Jake Moore had 37 tackles (16 solo), with 3.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
"In one of our coaches meetings, I had a coach say it was going to take him a long time to get over the fact that this team didn't get an opportunity to play for a state title," Adam Guenther said. "And even though I agree with his view, I was simply thankful for every second we got to spend with these guys because it could have very easily have been nothing."
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