One of the big winners in Week 9 was Wilsonville, which not only wrapped up its eighth consecutive Northwest Oregon Conference title by beating Canby 49-22, but also moved up to the No. 1 seed in the 5A football bracket.
That means that the Wildcats (8-1), state runners-up last season, wouldn't have to face 5A's two unbeaten teams – No. 2 Silverton and No. 3 Mountain View – until the championship game. Wilsonville, No. 1 in the OSAAtoday 5A coaches poll, vaulted over both teams in the OSAA rankings Friday.
The boost in playoff positioning is welcome for the Wildcats, who have lost in the final three times (2016, 2018, 2022) since their only state title in 2004.
“That's their ultimate goal,” Wilsonville coach Adam Guenther said of a state championship. “They've been talking about that since summer. They definitely have their eyes on that.”
Considering the Wildcats have 16 players who either started or saw significant action in a 35-28 loss to Summit in last year's state final, Guenther likes his team's chances in the playoffs.
“They're not as wide-eyed as they were last year,” Guenther said. “They've experienced it before. It's just an opportunity for us to sit back and do what we do.”
Wilsonville rolled over its NWOC foes until getting some push-back Friday from visiting Canby, which was within 14-8 at halftime. But the Wildcats broke it open in the second half behind senior quarterback Kallen Gutridge, who passed for 349 yards and six touchdowns and ran for 72 yards on six carries for the game. Four of his scores went to junior Mark Wiepert (seven catches, 155 yards).
“I think it was needed,” Guenther said of the test. “They flat-out punched us square in the mouth, and our guys responded pretty well. We settled down in the second half. Having Kal being as poised as he is, he just kind of took over.”
Gutridge, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound lefty, has passed for 2,370 yards and 35 touchdowns and rushed for 466 yards and six scores this season. Guenther said that Gutridge is making throws that he didn't make last season.
“He's just more mature physically and football-savvy wise,” Guenther said. “He applies what he's told. He's the most overlooked guy in the state. He did a lot of basketball stuff during the summers. People are starting to know about him now. I hope somebody gives him a chance because they're not going to be disappointed.”
Gutridge is showing more patience as a senior.
“Last year, he was so fast to bail out of the pocket,” Guenther said. “This year, he's just more calm.”
Guenther said that Gutridge's ability to run and see the field reminds him of former Wilsonville quarterback Nathan Overholt, who threw a state-record 59 touchdown passes in 2018.
“He's got a long stride and he can go a lot faster than people think,” Guenther said. “He has a little bit better zip. He plays a lot like Nathan.”
The prevailing opinion among 6A football observers this season is that West Linn and Central Catholic – No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the OSAAtoday 6A coaches poll throughout – are a cut above the competition.
There was much talk about a potential showdown in the state final. The way the OSAA power rankings played out, though, if the teams meet in the postseason, it will be in the semifinals.
Reigning champion West Linn (9-0) locked down the No. 1 seed, where it spent most of the season. Central Catholic (9-0), due to playing a weaker schedule in the Mt. Hood Conference, settled for the No. 4 seed. Tualatin (8-1) is No. 2 and Sherwood (9-0) is No. 3.
The seeding is a sore spot for Central Catholic coach Steve Pyne, whose team played nonleague games against Bellevue (Wash.) and Jesuit before posting running-clock wins in seven consecutive Mt. Hood contests.
A year ago, the Rams landed at the No.5 seed and lost to West Linn in the semifinals.
“It's the same thing I said last year, I think there needs to be a human element infused in this ranking system,” Pyne said. “We can't control our league. It is what it is. We've played who's in front of us. That's all we can do.”
Pyne also is concerned that his team is getting docked by the computers for playing elite out-of-state teams. Last year, Central Catholic's only regular-season loss came against St. John Bosco (Calif.), which was ranked No. 1 in the country. This year, the Rams defeated traditional Washington power Bellevue 48-27.
Pyne noted that Three Rivers League teams – all six made the 6A championship bracket – have more opportunities to strengthen their power ranking by playing four nonleague games.
In an effort to level the conferences, Pyne submitted a proposal to Sunset coach Damien Merrick, the 6A representative on the OSAA football ad-hoc committee.
He proposes to anchor Portland-area leagues with two strong programs each – West Linn and Oregon City; Tigard and Tualatin; Lake Oswego and Lakeridge; Central Catholic and Nelson; Jesuit and Mountainside; Sherwood and Liberty – and keep the down-state league the same.
Every four years, the leagues would be re-evaluated.
“I think there's got to be a different approach to football than there is in any other sport,” Pyne said. “We're not in the same situation that we were 10 years ago in terms of diversity of programs.”
Saxons air it out
Despite a new quarterback and an overhaul of its receiving corps, South Salem's passing game has continued to thrive this season.
The No. 6 Saxons ((9-0, 7-0 Special District 1) once again displayed their aerial prowess Friday with a 54-0 home win over North Salem (5-4, 3-4) to complete a perfect regular season.
Senior Athan Palmateer completed 32 of 35 passes for 425 yards and three touchdowns and had eight carries for 63 yards and two scores. Senior Esteban Mendez caught seven passes for 161 yards and one touchdown.
The 6-2, 200-pound Palmateer played at South Salem before transferring last year to Sprague, where he was the starting quarterback. He transferred back to the Saxons this season to take over for Daschel Smith, who passed for 2,860 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2022.
“He got a chance to get some experience,” South Salem coach Scott Dufault said of Palmateer.
Palmateer leads 6A in passing yards (2,862) and touchdown passes (29). He also has rushed for a team-high 567 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Dufault said Palmateer has shown excellent command of the offense. He has completed 74.2 percent of his passes and thrown only three interceptions.
“In our offense, you've got to be a pretty smart kid,” Dufault said. “We put most of the stuff on our quarterback. He's a 4-point-something student, and physically he's got the skills.
“He's got arm talent, and he can run. For us, it's checking runs, checking protections, getting his pre-snap read. And we do that all in about 15 seconds. He has taken advantage of an opportunity and performed really well.”
The Saxons graduated outstanding receivers in Zach Wusstig and Tini Tinitali, who combined for 1,440 receiving yards and 20 touchdown catches last season, but the play of Mendez has helped compensate for the loss.
The 5-5, 160-pound Mendez has 56 catches for a 6A-leading 1,238 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is South Salem's all-time leader in receptions (133), receiving yards (2,346) and touchdown catches (25).
“He was our third or fourth option last year,” Dufault said. “This year he's just been phenomenal. He's really good in small spaces, and he's surprisingly physical. He breaks tackles.. He's not the fastest kid necessarily, but he gets open, he makes tough catches, and he's really good with the ball in his hands. I think he's a college football player.”
Eli Johnson, a 6-4 senior, has 35 catches for 670 yards and seven touchdowns.
Unranked Baker completed a turnaround from an 0-4 start by claiming the 4A Greater Oregon League title with a 42-34 win at No. 6 Pendleton on Friday.
The Bulldogs (5-4, 5-0) trailed 28-14 in the third quarter but rallied to hand the Buckaroos (7-2, 4-1) their first loss to an Oregon team this season. Coming from behind has become an overarching theme this season for Baker, which won its first league title since 2016.
“Obviously, they've learned through adversity to just keep playing hard,” Bulldogs coach Jason Ramos said. “Even though we went down by two scores in the third, they just kept playing. It's a testament to them, for sure.”
Baker won behind senior quarterback Paul Hobson, who completed 27 of 39 passes for 421 yards and four touchdowns and ran for two scores. Hobson threw for two scores each to sophomore Rasean Jones (14 catches, 205 yards) and senior Malaki Myer (four catches, 108 yards).
Pendleton sophomore Tugg McQuinn (18 carries, 142 yards, four touchdowns) ran for two touchdowns in the third quarter to open a 28-14 lead, but Baker responded with four consecutive touchdowns to pull ahead 42-28.
The Bulldogs drew within 28-27 late in the third quarter on a 44-yard pass from Hobson to Jones and took a 35-28 lead in the fourth quarter on a 67-yard pass from Hobson to Myer.
The 6-3 Hobson, committed to Eastern Oregon, has passed for 2,420 yards and 28 touchdowns this season.
“He's making great decisions,” Ramos said. “He's spreading the ball around, getting the ball out on time, just throwing really well. He's making plays with his feet, too. Over our league season, he's really just dialed in.”
The receivers – Jones (70 catches, 942 yards, 11 touchdowns), Myer (28 catches, 747 yards, 10 touchdowns) and senior Hudson Spike (40 catches, 668 yards, six touchdowns) – also are coming up big.
“They work so hard to get open,” Hobson told the East Oregonian. “Credit to the O-line for keeping me safe and helping them get open. We are a group of fighters.”
Said Ramos: “We've got three guys that we try to spread it around, go to all three. It's hard to deal with three of them.”
Baker's nonleague losses came against No. 3 Scappoose, No. 9 Cascade, 3A No. 3 Vale and unbeaten Homedale (Idaho).
“We knew it was going to be a challenge with that kind of preseason schedule,” Ramos said. “ We were hoping we could've done a little better. We were just struggling a little bit with some of the things we were changing.
“But we just kept telling them, 'We're playing really good teams. We're a pretty good team ourselves, we've just got to keep working at it.’ We've kind of come through it, for sure, better off.”
The league title gives Baker a home game in the first round. The Bulldogs will play host to Junction City.
The emergence of senior running back Connor Dye has elevated Springfield in its first season under coach Frank Geske.
The 5-10, 170-pound Dye leads 5A in rushing yards (1,782) and touchdown runs (24). He ran for a career-high 350 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries Friday as the 5A No. 7 Millers (8-1, 6-1 Special District 2) defeated Eagle Point 42-14.
Geske said Dye has matured as a runner from last season, when he rushed for 766 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“He's learned how to be a little bit patient and then explode,” Geske said. “What does it for him is he's so aggressive, and aggression makes you fast and it makes you big. He just has that beetle-browed furiousness on him that he's just going to get it done.”
Trusting his line has been a key factor in Dye's development, according to Geske.
“He got tired of the berating about bouncing every play,” Geske said. “He's a fairly quick kid, and he had some success with that. In all the game film I watched, that sideline shows up if all you do is bounce it. He's had a lot of long runs this year because he's knifed it. He's just shaving blocks close. And he's hard to tackle. He's quick and he's deceivingly strong.”
After going 6-4 last year, when they lost in the 5A first round, the Millers have improved under Geske, who took over after coaching 4A Marist Catholic to 120 wins in the last 15 seasons.
Geske said much of the improvement can be attributed to a mental adjustment.
“All I heard about was the problems with attitude that went way into the team,” Geske said. “Not all that stuff is done yet, but we're pretty good. We're as composed and poised as any team I've had. I'm pleasantly surprised, but I knew they had it in them if they just dropped the baggage.”
Other highlights from Week 9:
West Salem earned a berth in the 6A championship bracket with a 42-21 win over streaking Sheldon. Kaden Martirano passed for 243 yards and one touchdown and ran for two scores and Ian Herber rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns for the Titans. Sheldon quarterback Colby Parosa rushed for 129 yards. … Wells put the final touch on its first unified Portland Interscholastic League title since 2003 by setting a school scoring record in beating Franklin 74-60. Marselis Griffiths ran for four touchdowns and Wyatt Andler rushed for three scores for the Guardians. … Karter Wilcox passed for 257 yards and two touchdowns, Jett Fay rushed for 149 yards and two scores in Barlow's 28-14 win over Sandy. Sentori Martino had eight catches for 139 yards and one touchdown and had two interceptions for the Bruins, who played their last regular-season game under coach Tracy Jackson. …
Lakeridge defeated rival Lake Oswego 27-7 in the Battle for the Lake. Gabe Motchenbacher completed 10 of 12 passes for 159 yards, including 27-yard touchdown strikes to Joey Olsen and Jaden Tragesser. Charlie McPhee added an interception-return touchdown. ... North Medford gritted out a 10-0 win over South Medford in the 38th Black and Blue Bowl, taking a 20-18 edge in the series. Jeremiah Robbins rushed for 127 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries and Landyn Meeker ran for 105 yards on nine carries for the Black Tornado. … Roseburg made a 15-yard touchdown pass from Owen Bentea to Kaden Austin in the second quarter stand up for a 7-3 victory over Grants Pass. …
Mountainside blanked Aloha 51-0 as Jordan Hicks rushed for five touchdowns. … Jesuit cruised past Beaverton 58-0, getting a big game from Elias Johnson, who scored on punt returns of 42 and 58 yards and had a 56-yard touchdown catch. Lonnie Burt rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries. … Central Catholic overwhelmed David Douglas 76-0 as Cru Newman passed for two touchdowns and ran for two scores. Killian Sombe had two rushing touchdowns for the Rams, who outgained the Scots 329-30. ... Jayden Fortier rushed for three touchdowns and caught seven passes for 94 yards to help carry Tualatin past Tigard 27-3. Calvin Evans kicked two field goals for the Timberwolves, who held the Tigers to 136 yards.
Brody Sullivan scored touchdowns rushing and receiving to help Silverton top Lebanon 35-21. The Foxes completed an unbeaten regular season and secured the No. 2 seed to the state playoffs. … Mountain View also capped an undefeated regular season by dominating Bend 46-7. Connor Crum threw four touchdown passes to Jack Foley (seven catches, 131 yards) and returned an interception for a score. … Crater's Valentin Rodriguez rushed for 345 yards and five touchdowns on 41 carries to propel his team past South Eugene 35-26. … Noah Blair threw six touchdown passes – three to Walker Bonar and two to Lombel Doreen – in Thurston's 48-28 win over Churchill. … South Albany beat Corvallis 43-13, after which Corvallis first-year coach Thomas Casey announced his resignation. The Spartans finished the season 2-7. ...
Braden Bailey had four sacks and Alex Nevarov had three sacks in Summit's 21-7 win over Caldera. Jimmy Hughes passed for a touchdown and ran for a score for the Storm. … Redmond defeated rival Ridgeview 21-14 in overtime. Ryker Altizer threw a touchdown pass to Wyatt Horner in overtime and Wyatt Bigelow sealed the win with an interception. Isaac Olmeda ran for two touchdowns for Redmond. Kia Lewis returned a fumble for a score for Ridgeview. … Jarron Huebner rushed for 276 yards and two touchdowns on 46 carries for West Albany in its 48-31 win over McKay. Lukas Hews ran for two touchdowns and passed for three scores, two to RJ Fallows. … Dallas ran over Crescent Valley 42-8 with Zayvian Webster, who had 12 carries for 250 yards and three touchdows.
Nick Hudson tossed three touchdown passes, two to Kaden Erlenbush, as Marist Catholic held off Junction City 22-16 in a game that decided the Special District 3 title. The Spartans led 22-8 when Hudson threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Aiden Hazen with 4:18 left, but the Tigers got within 22-16 with 2:06 remaining on Cooper Rothenberger's 36-yard touchdown pass to Eli Walker. Junction City had the ball at Marist Catholic's 40-yard line with five seconds left, but a heave into the end zone on the final play fell incomplete. … Unbeaten and top-ranked Henley survived a scare, breaking from a 21-21 tie in the third quarter to win at North Bend 41-28. Quarterback Joe Janney and Logan Whitlock scored on runs of three and 33 yards, respectively, to open a 34-21 lead early in the fourth quarter. North Bend closed to within 34-28 with 5:43 left on a one-yard touchdown run by Cole Hansen, but Janney answered with a 34-yard scoring run. …
Marshfield beat visiting Mazama 26-20 to finish in a second-place tie with the Vikings in Special District 4. It is the first time Mazama has lost back-to-back games since 2013. … Crook County blitzed Madras 56-6 as Jacob McKinnon passed for four touchdowns and Cody Kurtz scored on an interception return. … Philomath topped Sweet Home 33-14 as Caleb Russell threw four touchdown passes, to two CD Nuno (seven catches, 98 yards). Kaden Muir rushed for 96 yards on 12 carries and passed for a score. … Cascade routed rival Stayton 40-7, getting three touchdowns from Bryce Kuenzi and two scores from Braden Johnson. Nolan Abrams threw an 83-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Anundi. … Ashland outgained Klamath Union 383-139 – amassing 275 yards on the ground – in a 41-0 win. Gavin White had 14 carries for 164 yards and three touchdowns and Caden Negra scored on a kickoff return and a run. … Max Nowlin completed 21 of 25 passes for 254 yards and four touchdowns for Scappoose, which defeated Astoria 43-6. Derek Bond caught two touchdown passes, Leland Boswell ran for two scores and Eli Harrah caused two fumbles.
Reigning state champion Cascade Christian increased its winning streak to 22 games by beating South Umpqua 41-12. Ashton Moody completed 24 of 38 passes for 339 yards and five touchdowns, two each to Caleb Scaglione and Luke Wilson. Scaglione also ran for a score. … Burns held Umatilla to 55 total yards in a 42-0 win. … Coquille turned back St. Mary's 42-16 as Bo Messerle ran for three touchdowns and Cameron Houston rushed for two scores. … Bryson Teal returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown and caught two scoring passes for North Valley, which dropped Phoenix 48-7. Roy McGregor passed for four touchdowns. … Lakeview dominated Sutherlin 55-6 as Brandon Markus ran for two touchdowns and caught a scoring pass. Benny Alves passed for two touchdowns for the Honkers, who led 34-0 at half. . ..
Sisters completed a perfect run through the Mountain Valley Conference by turning back Harrisburg 20-7. Dawson Roberson had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. … Vale held Nyssa to minus-38 total yards in a 59-0 win. Damick Eddy had two touchdown catches, Kase Schaffeld ran for two scores and the Vikings returned two fumbles for touchdowns. … Sophomore quarterback Micah Blankenship passed for three touchdowns and ran for a score as Siuslaw secured a playoff berth with a 51-7 victory over visiting Pleasant Hill. … Dayton led 37-0 at half in defeating Amity 44-6. Zach Smith rushed for 164 yards on 18 carries and Boston Hodges ran for three touchdowns and passed for a score.
Oakland won the Special District 3 title by topping Gold Beach 32-20. Gabe Williamson rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries and Jacob Chenoweth ran for two scores. The Oakers had a 272-258 edge in yards. … Weston-McEwen handled Riverside 54-14 behind Easton Berry, who completed 8 of 12 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns. Sean Roggerio had four catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score for the TigerScots, who had 462 total yards. Maddox King rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. … Heppner rushed for 381 yards in dispatching Grant Union 54-14. Caden George and Cameron Proudfoot each rushed for two touchdowns. … Stanfield clinched its first playoff berth since 2017 by coming from behind to defeat Irrigon 40-36. Pablo Galindo threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Israel Monkus in the final minutes to take the lead. Jesus Arellano rushed for four touchdowns for Stanfield. ... Eli Freitag rushed for 318 yards and five touchdowns on 16 carries to lead Bandon/Pacific past Rogue River 67-0. Freitag has rushed for 24 touchdowns and 2,022 yards this season, breaking the school record of 2,002 yards, set by his uncle, Mark Dornath, in 1991. ...
Reedsport's Jay Noel scored touchdowns rushing, receiving and on an interception return in a 38-34 win over North Douglas/Yoncalla. Hunter Vaughn rushed for three touchdowns for the Warriors, who rallied after trailing 38-12 in the fourth quarter. … Culver downed Colton 50-14 behind Houston Wittenburg's four touchdown passes. Ryan Sotero and Carlos Fernandez each scored touchdowns rushing and receiving. … Central Linn overcame Monroe 50-46 to take the third and final playoff seed in Special District 2. Monroe's Nate Young rushed for 267 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries in the loss. … Clatskanie built a 27-0 lead in the first quarter and defeated Vernonia 49-6. Price Martinez had nine carries for 137 yards and four touchdowns and Ayden Boursaw rushed for two scores. … Zack Dugas passed for four touchdowns as Illinois Valley beat Glide 34-7. … Jacob Hadley led Willamina past Sheridan 67-12 by rushing for 354 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries. Saxon Stockwell completed 13 of 14 passes for 212 yards and five touchdowns. Kaleb Cruickshank had six catches for 118 yards and one score and recorded two sacks.
Lost River wrapped up the top seed to the state playoffs by rolling over Crosspoint Christian 55-6. The Raiders outgained Crosspoint Christian 551-140 behind Chase McAuliffe (four carries, 152 yards, two touchdowns) and Kayden Hartman (nine carries, 112 yards, two touchdowns). … Myrtle Point thumped Camas Valley 52-18 as Logan Backman threw three touchdown passes, two to Logan Clayburn, and Billy Reynolds rushed for two scores. James Standley rushed for 154 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries for Camas Valley. … Perrydale doubled up Dufur 52-26. Brandon Lux rushed for 209 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries and returned an interception for a score. Brody Burr completed 9 of 11 passes for 282 yards and five touchdowns. ...
Enterprise cruised past Lyle/Wishram/Klickitat/Glenwood 56-6. Tyler Knapp completed 11 of 13 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score. Ashtyn Irwin rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries. Trey Stewart had seven carries for 100 yards and one touchdown and caught two scoring passes. ... St. Paul defeated Pilot Rock 60-0 as Ralph Pohlschneider returned a punt for a touchdown and caught one of George Pohlschneider's two scoring passes. Clay Smith and Frank Pohlschneider each ran for two touchdowns. … Henry Treat and Trevor Treat rushed for four and two touchdowns, respectively, to lead Imbler past Sherman/Condon 48-6.
Echo claimed its first playoff berth since 2018 by edging Spray/Mitchell/Wheeler 38-34. The Rattlers had two chances to take the lead from the two-yard line at the end of the game but the Cougars denied them. Trailing 34-32, Echo pulled ahead on two-yard run by Dom Curiel with two minutes left. Curiel ran for two touchdowns and passed for a score and Mack Murdock returned an interception for a touchdown for Echo. … Joseph won the District 1 title by beating South Wasco County 26-8 at Echo. Jaxon Grover caught touchdown passes of 55 and 45 yards and had a 70-yard run to set up a short scoring run by Gavin Russell. Zander Walker scored on an interception return. The Redsides' only touchdown came on a fumble return. ... Mohawk rushed for 487 yards and held CS Lewis Academy to minus-12 rushing in a 45-32 win. Ewan O'Dea (23 carries, 280 yards) and Bryson Dugger (19 carries, 192 yards) ran for three touchdowns apiece. ...
Elkton bounced back from losing to Powers last week – its first defeat of the season – to drop Alsea 53-22. Anthony Alimenti completed 16 of 25 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns, both to Andrew Houx, and excelled on defense with an interception and fumble recovery. Jordyn Nederhood rushed for 106 yards and four touchdowns. … Falls City turned back McKenzie 43-6 as Chris Sickles rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries, returned a kickoff for a score and had six tackles for loss. Elliott Foust had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. ... Gus Gamache completed 10 of 12 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns and returned an interception for a score to lead Triangle Lake past Siletz Valley 53-0. Marshall Mather ran for two touchdowns and caught a scoring pass. Porter Overbaugh had two touchdown catches.