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Cooper Hiday caught three touchdowns passes from Kallen Gutridge as Wilsonville rang in Senior Night with a 28-14 win.



On Senior Night in Wilsonville, it was only fitting that Cooper Hiday played a starring role.

The senior wide receiver caught three of junior Kallen Gutridge's four touchdown passes as Wilsonville (4-2, 1-0) defeated Hillsboro 28-14 on Friday night, Oct. 7, at home.

More scores:Oregon high school football Week 6 scoreboard

For Hiday and the Wildcats, the win meant more than just an improvement in the standings.

"It's a huge night for us. It's super special spending your whole life playing a sport," Hiday said before trailing off. Searching for the right words to capture the moment, the senior eventually brought up the conflicted nature of the day.

"You look forward to this moment," he said, "but you also dread it because you don't want it to be the end. At the same time, it's a celebration for us.

"It feels really good to come out on top tonight, and I'm glad I did it with all my boys."

The two teams were tied at 14 going into halftime, but the Wildcats buckled down on defense and blanked the Spartans in the second half. Gutridge had already hit Hiday and junior wideout Nick Colyer for touchdowns in the first half, and the quarterback connected with Hiday for two more in the fourth quarter.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Wilsonville senior Cooper Hiday (4) caught three touchdown passes from junior Kallen Gutridge during the Wildcats' 28-14 win over Hillsboro on Senior Night, Friday, Oct. 7, at Wilsonville High School.

"We've been best friends forever," Hiday said of his longstanding connection with Gutridge on and off the field. "It's been good to finally get our rhythm going. It just shows that no one can stop us."

Speaking of being unstoppable, that would be a good way to describe the regular-season Wildcats in recent years. However, the team has always hit a stumbling block in the playoffs; last year, that speedbump came just before the finish line.

In 2021, Wilsonville went undefeated all the way up to that semifinal round of the 5A state tournament. There, the Wildcats were upset by a Thurston team that would eventually lose to Silverton in the championship game.

In 2022, the team started out by going to Springfield and beating those same Thurston Colts in the season opener. The Wildcats followed that up with a wild win over 6A Westview, and they were suddenly thrust right back into the 5A title conversation.

Rewind:Wilsonville defeats Westview 49-39 (PHOTOS)

In Weeks 3 and 4, however, Wilsonville got its first taste of regular-season defeat in three years.

The Wildcats took on Tualatin — last year's 6A runner-up at state — and were handily beaten in a humbling 44-7 loss. The following week, they went to Bend to play Summit, a 6A playoff team last year that dropped to 5A in the most recent run of realignment. The Storm, a legitimate 5A state championship contender in their own right, prevailed 33-21 over Wilsonville.

It's a new dawn and a new day for the Wildcats, though. League play has started, and the Wildcats are settling into their groove.

Perhaps they're a little too settled.

After clobbering Hood River Valley 52-6 on Sept. 30, Wilsonville entered their most recent game with Hillsboro feeling very confident, and maybe even on the verge of complacent.

"I think we just expected to come out here and be the better team," said sophomore strong safety Mark Wiepert, who helped lead a stifling second-half defense for Wilsonville. "Tops off to (Hillsboro) … they definitely hit us a little bit."

In his postgame speech to the players, head coach Adam Guenther reminded his team to respect every opponent. Even still, Wiepert notes that the team's confidence is plenty high going forward — the team just has to maintain its focus, discipline and aggressiveness in order to stay at its peak.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Wilsonville junior Mason Seal (52) and senior Dylan Nance (5) join forces for a tackle during the Wildcats' 28-14 win over Hillsboro on Senior Night, Friday, Oct. 7, at Wilsonville High School.

"We definitely expect to excel in the next couple of games," said the sophomore. "We have the personnel to do it — we just have to keep our intensity up. We know our competition isn't always the best, but we have to stay up to our level and never play down."

When the team is clicking on all cylinders, its level of play is extremely high. That standard of excellence has been on display in the Wilsonville football program a while now, and Hiday is hoping that he and the team can take the final step in his senior year.

"The goal is to win a state championship," he said. "That's the only goal. We know we can do it, so that's where we're headed."

As for any lingering sadness from last season, the senior receiver says that team has mostly moved past the state semifinal loss.

"It's definitely in the back of our minds," said Hiday, who added that the season-opening win over Thurston helped to exorcize some of the team's demons. "I think we've flushed that from last year, and we're ready to go this year."

Wilsonville's quest resumes next week on the road against Southridge (5-1, 0-1 NWOC West). The Skyhawks suffered their first loss of the season on Friday night, falling in surprising fashion to Forest Grove — which was 1-4 coming into the game.



With a dangerous foe looking to right its own ship, the Wildcats are in for another battle in Week 7.

Don't expect them to get caught off guard again.


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