Liberty quarterback Reid Linkmeyer is boxed in by Sherwood's defense Friday night. (Photo by Fanta Mithmeuangneua)
Liberty quarterback Reid Linkmeyer is boxed in by Sherwood's defense Friday night. (Photo by Fanta Mithmeuangneua)

HILLSBORO – There will be no donuts for Sherwood's football team after its 57-7 win at Liberty on Friday night.

But the third-ranked Bowmen did pick up something much more important: a third consecutive Pacific Conference title.

Sherwood (9-0, 5-0) – which awarded its players with donuts each week during a streak of seven shutouts, the longest run in the state since Heppner did it in 2007 – gave up an early fumble-return touchdown before steamrolling the Falcons (6-3, 4-1) with the conference title at stake.

The Bowmen rushed for 426 yards and finished with a 537-88 edge in total yards in extending their conference winning streak to 18 games. Sure, the shutout streak is over, but Sherwood has bigger goals in mind.

“Actually, I think everybody else bought into the streak more than we did,” Bowmen coach Mark Gribble said. “That's something unprecedented, the run we went on, and it was great. … But that's not why they were playing the game. To be honest with you, now I'm glad it's over so we can focus on something else.”

Sherwood now turns its attention to the 6A playoffs, where last year it lost to state champion West Linn 56-7 in the quarterfinals. The third-seeded Bowmen, who will face No. 14 Oregon City in the first round, believe they can make a run for their first title since 2012 (5A) – even if they hear the doubters.

“We've got a lot to prove. I think a lot of people think we're frauds,” senior running back and linebacker Keaton Fried said. “I've got a lot of friends in different towns, a lot of friends in West Linn, and they're starting to get a little worried about us. But they still think we're frauds, for sure, so we've got a lot to prove still.”

Sherwood will be packing plenty of confidence and a bit of a chip on its shoulder.

“We're not scared of anybody,” senior receiver and safety Evan Morris said. “I feel like people are thinking we're the underdog. We're just going to go and ball out in the playoffs.”

Sherwood hadn't allowed a point since defeating West Salem 34-21 in the season opener. The Bowmen were going for their eighth consecutive shutout Friday, a feat not accomplished since Phoenix posted nine in a row in 1963.

But on Sherwood's first series, Liberty senior Tanner Steinbach stripped the ball from senior quarterback Kasen Covert and senior Taku Diamond recovered the fumble and raced 48 yards for a touchdown.

Fried said he was blocking Steinbach on the play.

“My head just went down, but I picked it right back up,” Fried said. “We went to the sidelines and talked to the coaches, and we just had to realize, that's the kind of stuff you've just got to flush down the toilet.”

Morris said the play stung, “but honestly it was kind of motivation to push through the game, and win this league. We got rid of it, and we just wanted to win the game.”

The Bowmen answered in devastating fashion, scoring touchdowns on their next five possession to lead 36-7 at half. They got two touchdown runs from senior Jaxson Bernard and one each from senior Trevor Nibbe and juniors Treyson Eddleman and Wilson Medina, who had the longest score at 60 yards.

Covert threw two touchdown passes in the third quarter – 26 yards to Nibbe and 27 yards to Medina – and junior Andrew Waletich closed the scoring with a 59-yard run.

Nibbe rushed for a team-high 108 yards on nine carries and Medina finished with 83 yards on four carries. Covert completed 7 of 9 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns.

Covert said he felt bad about the fumble that ended the streak.

“I give all our dudes a big apology, but stuff happens, and we bounce back,” Covert said. “Props to the defense. They didn't let anybody score. They're doing their job.”

Liberty, going for its first conference title since 2018, did not come close to scoring again. Sherwood's defense came after the Falcons in waves, led by the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Morris, who had two tackles for loss and an interception. Senior Kaleo Hall also had an interception.

“Coming into this game, we knew it was going to be a challenge,” Fried said. “Our goal in mind was to not let them score. Mistake in the first quarter, but we put it past us. And zero points scored on the defense.”