I really can’t say enough good things about both of these programs. They have been two of the most dominant teams in Oregon for the better part of the last decade, and will meet once again in a rematch of last years state title game.
Lake Oswego Head Coach Steve Coury, and Sheldon’s Lane and Marty Johnson are some of the most respected coaches anywhere in the country. Its not just about the talent they produce, its the type of athletes that come through the system. Class kids up and down each roster make both of these clubs that much more fun to watch.
We feel fortunate to be able to train and work with a majority of the top athletes in the region through the Barton Football Academy, and further review of this years state title makes it one of the most anticipated in years.
Every week I predict the outcome of games in our ” Weekly Predictions” section on NEI. I have statistically been more accurate by percentage then anyone else since we created NEI, but Lake Oswego has made me eat my words more times then I can count over the last two seasons.
They have won 27 straight games, including the 2011 state title where they finished the #14 team in the country by USA Today. All year long I questioned whether or not they could make up for the losses of kids like Alex Matthews, Steven Long, Zach Walen, Stevie Coury, Grant Taylor etc.. Basically athletes that accounted for at least 42+ points a game over the 2011 season.
So far the Lakers D has been dominant and the offense has played very well, but I will be very curious what the Lakers will be able to do against an Irish defense that is extremely fast and nasty.
We have had Sheldon ranked the #1 team in the state all year long for a reason, and we will find out whether or not that is accurate on Saturday. Its no secret I’m a huge Connor Strahm fan, as I think his he is the best overall football player in the region.
Taylor Alie has become a difference maker this year, and has shown during the playoffs that it wasn’t just an easy conference schedule that he was able to take advantage of. He has played phenomenal in all 4 playoff games and will once again be the key to the Irish success. He needs to play well for Sheldon to win, and the Lakers will bring pressure the likes the he has never seen before.
Sheldon is (52-2) in there last four seasons with two state title appearances and a state championship. Both losses have come to Lake O. They averaged a 53-8 win during the regular season, and have beaten two very talented playoff opponents in Southridge and Jesuit to get to the title game. The additions of Mike Ralston, James Banks, and junior Yadie Dunmore over the off season were huge as all three players are considered top athletes state wide.
I don’t see any way this game is decided by more then 10 points, as both teams are very well coached and similar in so many ways. In one of the greatest State title games ever I will go..
#2 Lake Oswego Lakers (13-0)
Ruppe has had an outstanding season and is an athlete I really like. He is one of the more underrated QB’s in the state due to his size, but the kid is legit and earned 1st team all league honors. He has completed an incredible 70% of his passes on the season, while throwing 13 Tds and only 1 Int for 1793 yards. Sheldon will bring the pressure.
Holmes is another kid that has stepped up and had a monster year. Tough shoes to fill when you are replacing Player of the Year Steven Long, but JB never backed away from the challenge; He has rushed for 1099 yards and 19 Tds on 6.74 yards a carry.
A kid who may be the most underrated two way athlete in the entire region also ran the ball in Anderson. He accounted for 8 Tds on 481 yards rushing, averaging 6.59 yards a carry and is someone that should be on our rankings board both offensively and defensively. Spencer is a phenomenal overall athlete.
Holmes earned 1st team and Anderson 2nd team all league honors, while Junior Nick Underwood is one of the top underclassmen in the entire state. Underwood added 6 Tds on 275 yards rushing and will be a featured back next season. He is also ranked our #2 Jr LB in Oregon.
Griffin may be the top Sr WR in the State of Oregon. His size and overall athleticism has created match up problems for defenders all season long and the Irish are well aware. Griffin was a first team all league kid and projected first team all state kid, catching 36 passes for 909 yards and 14 Tds.
Jack Anderson is kind of the “do it all kid”, leading the state in picks last year but also being a very valuable offensive threat. Anderson hauled in 26 passes for 330 yards and also ran the ball 30 times for 343 yards, giving him 5 Td’s on the year rushing & receiving and earning 1st team all league honors on both sides of the ball.
Palermini and Washington contributed a great deal with Palermini grabbing 15 balls for 292 yards and 2 Tds, and Washington catching 8 passes for 173 yards and 4 Tds.
Lomax was a first team all league TE and Wagner earned honorable mention honors. Mitch had a clutch semifinal performance and has caught 13 balls for 275 yards and 3 Tds on the season. He has been an outstanding outlet for Ruppe.
The offensive line is EASILY one of the state’s best if we are talking execution and experience. Four all league starters return from last years state title team with Penney, Noah Peterson, and Kyle Peterson earning first team all league honors this season. Noah is a legit D1 lineman and Kyle comes from a football family and makes very few mistakes. Penney has stepped up big this year and is one of the more underrated lineman in Oregon.
NEI favorite Austin Faunce earned 2nd team all league honors on O, but is maybe the state’s top D lineman so he is very important on both sides of the football. Junior Calhoon also earned 2nd team honors and is ranked one of our Top 10 lineman in Oregon for the class of 2014. He is just another very talented underclassmen that will lead this group next year.
God luck containing Faunce. He is considered one of the top wrestlers in the entire region and uses those abilities on the football field. He earned Co TRL Defensive POY honors with Mitch Lomax and deservedly so. His ability to out maneuver most O lineman is very apparent, and Sheldon is very aware that they will need to contain him.
As we said Spencer Anderson is the real deal and the kid has size and speed coming off the end. He to earned 1st team all league honors, and is someone that the Irish’s talented up front cast will have to account for every play. Martin stepped up and had a big year earning 2nd team all league from his interior spot.
This is where the Lakers are just down right nasty. Expect these kids to be the difference makers if LO is going to win this game. Lomax holds a PSU offer and was the Co Conference Defensive MVP with Faunce. He’s got legit quicks for a big athlete, and just understands the game better then most growing up in professional football environment.
Junior Nick Underwood has played out of his mind all season and you can expect for him to know where Connor Strahm is on the field at all times. You are not going to find much better kids then Lomax and Underwood off the field, but on it they will hunt and track you down as quick as any LB’s in the NW if you have the ball in your hands. They are both legit D1 backers and 1st team all state caliber kids.
Props to Washington and Wagner who both earned 1st team all league honors as well. You won’t find a much better foursome in the state as all of these kids have size and can run. One way or the other the Lake O LB’s will be the difference in the game.
Jack Anderson returns as Oregon’s 6a interception leader (9) and is a kid that seems to always be at the right place at the right time. He earned 1st team all league honors at DB and is the team leader in Int’s with 4. Horak started as a sophomore on last years state title team and came up huge last week against Tigard with two late Int’s. He is another outstanding kid that is ranked one of our top 3 DB’s for 2014 class.
Both Bunick and Kelly waited there turn to play and capitalized this season, dominating from their corner spots. Rarely do you have two new corners step up and grab first team all league honors, but that was the case here.
#1 Sheldon Irish (13-0)
Kid has been playing out of his mind and uses his feet very well; 32 Tds passing/7 Ints, 2744 passing yds, 67% Com Pct… 6 rush Tds; Alie was phenomenal once again last week hitting on 23 of 34 passes for 303 yards and 3 Tds. He could potentially be the most impressive senior QB in the state and someone I would consider the ” Breakout performer of the Year”.
Strahm is a freak and contributes every which way; 512 Rush Yds, 8 Tds.. Yadie and Mitch Lewis have both done a great job and got in the end zone 6 with Tds a piece. Both kids came up huge against Jesuit, with Mitch scoring from 7 yards out to break a 21- 21 tie and Dunmore from 15 yards out on a screen.. Strahm will most likely get the ball through the air more then on the ground as the LO LB’s are relentless against the run.
Connor is extremely elusive and it always takes more then one defender to take him down after the catch; He has 79 receptions for 992 yards and 13 Tds through the Semi’s, while Herbert just continues to get better being ranked our #2 Jr WR state wide with 20 catches for 382 yards and 8 Tds; Dylan Lewis has been a killer on both sides of the ball and has caught 27 passes for 453 yds and 2 Tds.
Faulhaber is one of the most productive TE/WR’s in the region; 44 receptions for 529 yards and 6 Tds… The kid has been absolutely lights out. NEI favorite Mike Ralston has also gotten in the mix as of late with 3 Tds on the season.
The line on both sides has been phenomenal to say the least.. Offensively Asay (58 pancake blocks), and Nielsen (20) have been the senior leaders with Tanner Davies (47 pancakes) being one of the state’s top ranked Jr’s. Tokalty has been a pleasant surprise with 34 pancake blocks and McGovern is one of the state’s top Jr LB’s that plays on the line. The offensive line is as good as anyone’s, but this will be a huge test this week against a group that is extremely quick, and hasn’t really been challenged defensively.
The D line has been dominant and has used speed and size to their advantage; Ralston has accumulated 60 tackles and 8 sacks, while Talty has had a phenomenal Jr year accounting for 83 total tackles and 3 sacks…. We have talked about Spears and his wrestling ability and how he uses that on the football field.. The kids a beast on the inside and just causes havoc everywhere he goes; 81 tackles, 4.5 sacks.. Nielsen is just an incredibly talented overall athlete as shown by his full ride to Oregon for baseball, and 35 tackles/2.5 sacks..Lamb has had an outstanding Sr. year.
The Sheldon D line, against the LO O line is maybe the most intriguing matchup of the day as there are legit college athletes everywhere. Sheldon kept the very athletic and sizeable Jesuit O line in check last week, and they will have to continue to do more of the same this week.
Banks has been a tackling machine racking up 146 in total, averaging 12.2 per game; He anticipates as well as anyone in the NW and is a big reason they are where they are right now…Faulhaber uses that big frame to continue to do work and has accounted for 52 total tackles on the season.
The speed of the Irish D matches that of LO which is something that we haven’t been able to say all season long. Sheldon will have to go on lock down mode against the Lakers and it will start with the backers. Banks will need to have the game of his life, and Faulhaber will have to continue to step up as he has all season long.
Connor Strahm was a player of the year on both sides of the football in the SWC, although he did make a request to give the award to James Banks who he felt was deserving; That type of leadership is why the Irish have been dominant; Dylan Lewis (2 Int’s) is one of the better DB’s in the state and his brother Mitch (2 Ints) is equally skilled… Sophomore Kellen Strahm has been one of the state’s top youngsters and will get some additional post season opportunities. Herbert is considered one of the top junior safeties in Oregon, and is able to use his length to his advantage.
Last week against Jesuit the Sheldon DB’s played more of a LB role as the Crusaders don’t really throw. The Lakers aren’t pass happy, but are much more likely to air it out. Strahm will play his traditional role of strong safety /backer, but keys will be containing the tall WR’s that the Lakers possess in Griffin 6-4, Washington 6-3, Anderson 6-3. The Irish DB’s are as athletic as any in the state, but height is something you obviously can’t teach. They can not allow this to be a factor. Herbert will be extremely important this week with his length and jumping ability.
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