HS Blitz Preview: The 'Big Three' struggle and the field is wide open
Each week during high school football season KATU sports photographer Mike "Rossy" Rosborough previews the upcoming action on High School Blitz, which airs Friday nights at 11:35 p.m. Here is Rossy's look ahead at the final week of HS Blitz!
Football friends, let me take a minute to comment on an interesting turn of events in 6A football. The Big Three of the last decade - Jesuit, Lake Oswego and Sheldon - are a combined 5-7 in the opening month. All lost to Central Catholic and played tough schedules, the norm for most top programs, and will still be factors now in league play. But a few new faces taking home the hardware in December would be good for the general welfare of 6A ball and for fans. It would be a chance for growing squads to fill the vacuum.
One of those has to be the Rams of Central Catholic, who are 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in 6A. They have steamrolled all four opponents with a balanced power game, and playmakers like Brennan Scarlett and Ryan Nall. They open their defense of the Mt. Hood Conference title against Reynolds (1-3) at Hillsboro stadium. The Raider's have a playmaker in Josh Schleining at QB, but you don't beat CC with a pass only game. The Rams look like they can roll thru the underperforming MHC for the top seed.
Our "Game of the Week" is a matchup of two Mt. Hood teams that have struggled with the early, tough games. David Douglas (0-4) has troubles so far with finishing games. They've had close losses at the end of games. They'll take on Barlow (1-3), which can't get off to a good start but finishes with second half fury only to fall short. They almost reeled in Grant on the road with a strong run option but came up short 22-20, despite shutting out Grant in the second half. The answer to which squad figures out their game Friday night is in the hands of Nate Bynum and his sideline band of renown photographers as they go live for the best highlight show in the known universe - The Blitz!
Our third Mt. Hood matchup is at Centennial (1-3) as they host Gresham (1-3). These two are rivals and know each other well. Two mostly running teams with option playmakers on a grass field will be fun to watch and the clock will fly by.
The end of September is the beginning of all league play, not a Special Division; sorry Lincoln and Grant. Maybe next year's changes will bring you better fortune. The league we are watching closely is the Three Rivers because of talented teams and a wide open race. Lake Oswego, winners of last ten TRL titles, look vulnerable as they work out the kinks of a young group against the West Linn Lions, who have racked up 100 points in their last two outings. The Lakers are in danger of a 1-4 start if the defense isn't ready.
Speaking of getting ready, Lakeridge better be working on tackling this week because they face Clackamas' "Smiley" Sherrell, a bowling ball of a runner who hasn't been stopped yet. The Pacers do have Tony Dungey at QB and he is a double threat to match Sherrell, so I would expect this game will go down to who has it last. Talk about a great deal for any football fan.
The top matchup in the Metro has to be Sunset (4-0) at Jesuit (2-2). Alongside Southridge, these are the top contenders. Jesuit has only lost to the two best big school teams in Oregon, Central Catholic, and in Washington, Camas. The Apollos got fat early on the MHC and squeaked by Grant and Aloha, not the speed bumps the Crusaders met. Jesuit may look one dimensional on offense but that dimension is led by some quality D-1 studs, Joey Alfieri and Henry Mondeau, and a strong supporting cast on defense that should handle Sunset at home.
The Salem area welcomes the Central Valley conference's return as McNary (2-2) plays at South Salem (2-2). The race to keep up with Sprague and West Salem begins here for the Celtics and Saxons, an historic rivalry if there ever was one.
Lincoln (1-3) takes the bus down I-5 to play on the black turf of West Salem (3-1). The Titans, smarting from a spanking by Sprague last week, will be looking to be bad hosts to the Cardinals, who may be swallowed by the "Black Hole" and its fans.
We're always looking for rivalry games because of their unexpected nature and found two more for your pleasure. Hillsboro (2-2) versus Glencoe (2-2) at Hare Field. Hilhi was on the short end of game with Tualatin, while Glencoe shutout Newberg. But this game is pretty even talent wise, pitting a good offense in Hillsboro against a solid defense from the Tide. As I mentioned about rivalries, emotion will determine the winner.
The second matchup is a lot closer to the center of town, a long time inner Southeast Portland rivalry. Franklin (3-1) at Cleveland (1-3) has the Quakers looking strong for 5A PIL competition, their only loss to No. 1 Sherwood. The Warriors are short on playmakers but big on effort. Franklin's passing game will win out this time around.
Last but not least is the match between Sandy (3-1) and Milwaukie (0-4). Both teams have new coaches who inherited different groups of players. The Pioneer's new leader is Joe Polamalu out of Winston, Ore., where he was very successful in his five years as head coach and has won over his new players with toughness and discipline that is reflected in their strong start to the season. The Mustangs, now coached by Jeff Thomas, who was last year's offensive coordinator, has lost his starting QB to illness and top RB to injury. They are still sorting out the replacements and will struggle against Sandy in this conference contest.
There is our 11-game plan for Friday, so check us out at 11:30 p.m. after the news and watch the top stable of sideline lensmen do their thing. Send in those tweets and pics to #K2Blitz and get on the show as we go and tell your friends about it. You make the show and just add to the fun times we have later!