Last year, down 35 to 39, 4th and 14, West Linn ball was on the Sherwood 19 yard line. 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and record breaking quarterback Tim Tawa, senior, stepped up in the pocket and threw the ball to the right corner of the end zone; incomplete. While this was the last time the Lions and the Bowmen faced off in the regular season, West Linn got their revenge soon after with a 51 to 7 victory in the State Semifinal Game.
Elijah Molden, West Linn senior, and David Morris, Sherwood senior, will be the focus of each team’s offense. Molden, who comes off an impressive defensive showing against South Medford’s receiver Chase Cota, is looking to carry that momentum into this weeks game. Morris has been bottled up in Sherwood’s first two games, with an 0-2 to start to their season. The Bowmen better bust open holes in their offensive line if they hope to establish a running game. With talented linebackers for the Lions found in Mitchell Johnson, senior, and Drake Lovato, senior, Zack Huffstutter, junior, and Tyler Good, junior, Sherwood’s ground game could struggle once they take the field.
At the quarterback position, Tawa has played extremely well so far, throwing for a whopping 364 yards in West Linn’s first game versus Oregon City. In a vital victory for the Lions West Linn beat South Medford on the road, with Tawa passing for 292 yards. Jack Travnicek, senior quarterback for the Bowmen, is hoping to turn his season around after throwing a 42.9 completion percentage for 32 yards in their teams last match up, where they were blown out 49-7 by a strong Camas team. The West Linn vs. Sherwood game will have both quarterback’s playing in their senior seasons. Don’t be surprised if they are heavily relied once the ball is snapped.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions have plenty of talent both on the field with their starting line up, and in those players waiting for their chance on the sidelines. At defensive back, West Linn brings strong seniors in Elijah Molden and Zach Shelton, senior. Molden and Shelton have done well containing Treon Bradford, Oregon City reciever, to 41 yards, then Cota the following week. Sherwood’s secondary will have to step up if they hope to guard Lion receivers Justin Altonhofen, senior, Jake Meisen. senior, and Qawi Ntsasa, junior. Altonhofen, Meisen and Ntsasa have put up huge numbers in their first two games. Sherwood’s defense is in a tough position because they will have to focus on these strong receivers, while attempting to contain explosive Elijah Molden at the running back position. Molden has ran for 248 yards this season in 20 rushing attempts. West Linn also uses Molden in their passing game, where he’ll come into Friday with 12 receptions and 160 receiving yards. All this combined, and the West Linn Lions will be one of the toughest match ups for the Sherwood Bowmen this season.
Both teams will rely on their offensive and defensive lines to bring pressure. University of Oregon commit Alex Forsyth, senior, has shown why he’s regarded as one of the best, if not the best offensive lineman in the state. On the defensive line, Jake Porter, senior, made a huge impact last year and has certainly carried that momentum into this season. Come Friday night, putting pressure on Jack Travnicek is an important focus for the Lions defense, but the bigger challenge may be for Sherwood in trying to take down Tawa. Connor Maloney senior center for West Linn, has been impressive through the first two games. Quickness, power, and agility are qualities that the Lions offensive line pride themselves on; all three will play a role in Friday’s match up.
Most think West Linn is the team to beat. With a talented offense and defense, the Lions have pushed opponents past their breaking point. Sherwood is looking to turn their season around after a slow 0-2 start, however a win versus the top ranked team in the state could give them the momentum necessary to carry into the following weeks. There is no doubt that come Friday evening, both teams will step on the field with a unique energy and passion needed to take the victory.