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The North squad dances past the South at the Les Schwab Bowl

The North defeated the South 31-21 at the high school football all-star game


by: COREY BUCHANAN - North players perform a dance directed at South players before the game. It all started with a dance.

Just before the 67th Les Schwab Bowl, which pitted the best 5A and 6A high school players in Northern Oregon against the best players in Southern Oregon, the North squad pranced boisterously toward the South squad, elevating tensions to a high level – especially for an all-star game.

Whether or not the dance was beneficial, the North prevailed 31-21 and Central Catholic’s Aidan Wilder was named the game’s most valuable player.

Canby defensive lineman Alejandro Sandoval said the dance was no spur of the moment gesture.

“We planned that just last night, practiced it three or four times and then in the morning. And when it came to game time, we did it here,” he said.

The South didn’t take kindly to the dance, glaring menacingly at their opponents.

From there on out, it was on, and both teams treated the game as more than just an exhibition.

Sandoval says the dance motivated his team to play harder.

“It got us all fire up and ready to go,” he said.

However, though effort was evident, execution was not. The game featured 12 turnovers, including two forced fumbles by recent Canby alumnus AJ Schlatter and two interceptions by North defensive back of the game Maurice McSwain. Considering football season ended in December and the players had only been practicing for a week, it might’ve been surprising if the game didn’t resemble a comedy of errors.

Canby coach and North defensive coordinator Mike Vaught credits defenders for the high-turnover output.

“We got them in third and long situations, the quarterbacks has gotta throw and we’ve got good athletes. The other guys were just flying around hitting hard and knocking the ball out. We talked to the kids about being ball hawks and these guys did it,” he said.

Oddly enough, defenses reigned supreme despite strategic limitations.

“The good thing and a bad thing is they limit you so much on the rules. There’s no blitzing, you gotta play one high safety. The only time you can adjust or go after them is on fourth and short or on the goal line. They make you keep it simple,” Vaught said.

The game started out with each team treading water, failing to garner a first down through the first five minutes of the first quarter.

But then Wilder capped a well-balanced drive with a two-yard burst into the end zone nine minutes into the game. However, after a couple picks in the second quarter by Wilder and a botched handoff, which led to a recovered fumble and 55-yard touchdown by North Medford’s Hunter Hermansen, the South took a 14-10 lead. But on the final drive of the half, Wilder tucked and ran for a six-yard QB sneak to the house. In the second half, the teams traded touchdowns. But with the score 24-21 and the North having just failed to convert on fourth and one with fewer than five minutes remaining, the South had one last opportunity to steal the victory. However, McSwain snatched a pass next to the sideline and ran it to the end zone, all but dashing the South’s hopes of a comeback.

The North’s victory signified the first time in seven years the game has had a back-to-back champion. The North won 21-14 last year.



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