Tualatin Football shut out at West Linn

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Tualatin quarterback AJ Noland looks to make a play in the Timberwolves 37-0 loss to West Linn. Adam Littman/Tualatin Life
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For a second straight week, the Tualatin football team got off to a slow start, but there was no comeback to be had against defending state champs West Linn, as the Timberwolves were shut out for the first time in more than a decade in a 37-0 loss. 

“I don’t think we played our best game in a lot of areas,” Tualatin Coach Dom Ferraro said. “We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board.”

Tualatin (5-1, 1-1 league play) fell behind by multiple scores in the first quarter against West Linn just like it did a week earlier against Lakeridge. However, the Timberwolves came back from a 17-0 hole to beat Lakeridge, 31-24, on Sept. 29. There was no such comeback against West Linn (6-0, 2-0). 

Tualatin received the ball first and punted after a three-and-out. Three plays later, West Linn was on the board with its first score. By the time Tualatin got its first first down of the game, West Linn was already up 20-0. 

Early in the second quarter, Tualatin quarterback AJ Noland connected on a touchdown pass to tight end Tyson Hunt, but the play was called back due to holding. It was the closest Tualatin came to scoring all game. 

Noland was starting his second straight game at quarterback after junior Nolan Keeney injured his collarbone in a win against Jesuit on Sept. 22. The senior moved to quarterback from receiver, and also starts at safety for Tualatin. 

From the start of the game, Noland was under pressure from the defense and wasn’t able to use his exceptional athleticism or speed to get Tualatin’s offense moving. 

“They had an awesome gameplan,” Noland said. “They came after us. I could’ve played a bit better. I got hit a couple of times at the start and felt it a little bit. I’ve got to play better.”

Noland said he appreciated how his teammates stuck with him throughout the game, and it’s on Tualatin to use the loss as a way to improve moving forward.

“We’ve just got to grow and get better in every phase of the game,” he said. “The scoreboard shows they got in every phase of the game.”

Ferraro isn’t worried about Noland at quarterback, saying he expects the senior to bounce back. He pointed out a few areas where he thinks the team needs to pick things up. 

“We’ve got to tackle better. We’ve got to block better,” he said. “Those are really the two things I saw tonight. We struggled blocking them up front and we struggled tackling. The game is fun and you can draw up all kinds of cool plays and execute them but when you don’t block and don’t tackle, you’re not going to have success.”

Ferraro said it’s important for the Timberwolves to not dwell on the loss. 

“I told these guys you get 24 hours to be upset about this and then we’ve got to move on,” he said.

What he doesn’t want to see is a replay of last season, when Tualatin lost to West Linn, and then dropped its next game, as well. Tualatin lost 42-30 to West Linn last season, and then lost 35-31 in its next game against Lake Oswego. 

“We went into a funk for a couple weeks after,” Ferraro said. “For a couple weeks, we didn’t play well.”

The Timberwolves find themselves in a similar spot now and hope to bounce back stronger this year than they did last season. Coincidentally enough, their next is once again against Lake Oswego (5-1, 1-1). 

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