Helmets on, lights up and stands filled.
Dawning the field were two rivals ready to clash, one more prosperous in recent years than the other.
In the final regular-season game of the Oregon high school football season, the Tualatin Timberwolves battled it out against rival Tigard at home.
While attracting widespread attention from the surrounding community, the stands were at capacity, with students, families and Tualatin’s own pep band in attendance. On the opposing side, Tigard’s fans littered the away stands, and on the field, the cheerleaders rallied, keeping the spectators up off their seats and the team together.
After all, the Wolves narrowly took a loss against the Tigers, 23 – 21, the previous year in an ESPN national game of the week.
It was time for a little payback, and in this eerily normal setting, retribution is what they got.
Tualatin spread across the field, and with a kickoff from Tigard’s Henry Masters, the battle began. On Tualatin’s first possession, they managed to drive to the Tigard 14-yard-line.
What followed was Tualatin’s quarterback, Jackson Jones, who threw to Cole Prusia, but just before reaching his grasp, the ball was swatted out by Tigard’s Hewitt Sullivan.
Shortly thereafter, as Tigard moved up the field play-by-play, Tualatin’s Jake Alton intercepted a pass from Zachary Chesler at the 50-yard-line.
The Wolves brought themselves back to Tigard’s 30-yard-line, but this time, they wouldn’t be denied. Jones launched a dead accurate 25-yard pass to a wide-open Prusia who skipped into the end zone for an initial 7 – 0 lead.
Jones and Prusia, both juniors, had lost to the Tigers for the past three years. They now held the stage to make this game their own, but not before Tigard answered back.
Tigard’s Keenan Speer-Johnson received an endzone pass for their first touchdown and a 7 – 7 tie with 3:23 in the first quarter. But Tualatin wouldn’t let this slide.
Only 10 seconds into the second period, Alton found an opening and snuck back into the endzone. As Jones searched for a target, he landed upon Alton, only to throw short. Alton, however, dove for the catch and gave the team yet another 7-point lead. Now, they wouldn’t fall short any further, finishing off the half with a dominating effort.
With six minutes left in the half, Jones threw his second touchdown pass to Prusia. At the four-minute mark, Malik Ross caught a bit of the action, taking the hand-off from Jones and blitzing through Tigard’s defense for 18 yards and a 27 – 7 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Wolves were able to extend the margin even further with a Ross 8-yard touchdown. And with 4:57 left in the game, Masters nailed a field goal kick, to provide the final score of 34 – 10.
This was no ordinary win for the Wolves. With only two wins against Tigard in the last ten years, the most recent in 2015, this entire team of Tualatin athletes, including Head Coach Dan Lever, had never seen a win against Tigard.
“Think about all the players in the last 10 years, good players, good teams that couldn’t accomplish this,” Lever said in his post-game speech. “They couldn’t get it done, they were just that short here and that short there.”
Keeping their win streak going, Tualatin improved to a 3-1 league record (4-1 overall) with Tigard dropping to 1-3 (1-3 overall).
“We took advantage of our opportunities that we had, and we were putting it all together as a team and as a program,” Lever told Tualatin Life. “I mean the first game of the year, we put up six points. You know, we’ve averaged in the thirties ever since. We get better every week.”
For their next matchup, the Wolves go south to finally face Lake Oswego, an opponent they intended to play on their second week. This game against last year’s championship finalist will be their last for the season.