Cavaliers meet their match in the quarterfinals

by: JON HOUSE - Clackamas senior running back Dan Sherrell repels Central Catholic senior defensive back Aaron Washington (21) in the Cavaliers quarterfinal game with the Rams. Sherrell had an incredible senior year, rushing for a school-record 2,266 yards and scoring a school-record 33 touchdowns.Any one driving by Hillsboro Stadium 30 minutes after the Nov. 22 Class 6A football quarterfinal playoff game between sixth-ranked Clackamas and third-ranked and unbeaten Central Catholic would have thought that the Cavaliers had won the game.

Well after Central Catholic players and fans had left Hillsboro Stadium, Clackamas High players and fans were still hanging out on the stadium turf, consoling one another following a 42-7 loss, but also relishing the accomplishments of the season and of their athletic careers.

And they left the stadium champions in the hearts of their fans. They had given their all and battled to the end, despite experiencing a night in which little went their way.

“The team played hard,” said Cavalier senior Taylor Stinson. “There was no quit in this team.

“I love this team. We’ve played together since third grade and I love hanging out with these guys. This group of guys is something special.”

“Our defense played really good,” said Clackamas senior Cade Wilkins. “We just made too many mistakes on offense, and when you play a good team like Central, you can’t afford mistakes....

“But I love these guys to death. We care about one another and we would do anything for each other. I wouldn’t want to play on any other team.”

“I couldn’t ask for a better season or a better family than my team,” said Clackamas senior Dan Sherrell. “It’s been a great run and I have no regrets.”

“It’s been like a huge family thing since third grade,” said senior Brody Haehlen. “I’m going to miss everyone....

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. Our freshman year we were 0-and-10, as sophomores we were 2-and-9, last year we went 5-and-6, and now this year, 9-and-3. It’s a huge turnaround for our program. I’m proud to be a Cavalier.”

“Two years ago we were 2-9,” Clackamas coach Joe Bushman said to his players following the quarterfinal game. “Now, this year, we reached the quarterfinals. And it was all because of your hard work and dedication over the last two years.... I love you guys. It’s been a hell of a year.”

“We never backed down from anyone,” said Stinson. “It didn’t come out the way we wanted, but we like to compete and we played hard. Central’s a hell of a team.”

“They’re by far the best team we’ve played,” said Haehlen. “They’ve got the biggest offensive line we’ve faced, and they play together really well for a private school.”

“The way we came together this year, it feels great!” said senior Michael McDonald. “It felt like Jake [the deceased son of assistant football coach and head baseball coach John Arntson] was here on sidelines with us every game. We played every game this season to the glory of God and for Jake.”

The Rams upped their season record 12-0 with the quarterfinal win, while Clackamas finished up at 9-3 with the loss, it’s only other losses to Three Rivers League foes Oregon City and Lake Oswego. It was the Cavaliers’ best season since 2005, when the Clackamas went 9-2, losing to Tualatin in the round of 16.

Central Catholic has been dominant all through the 2013 season. The Rams’ entered the quarterfinal with Clackamas averaging 55 points an outing, to 16 points by their opponents. Their lowest scoring game came on Sept. 13, when they dropped Lake Oswego 35-14.

Still, the Cavaliers made a game of it for most of the first half. And had it not been for six Clackamas turnovers, the outcome might have been different.

by: JON HOUSE - Clackamas senior defenders Zach Farnes (11) and David Reese (70) celebrate a defensive stop in the Nov. 22 quarterfinal game with Central Catholic. Clackamas defense was busy, as the Cavalier offense gave the ball up six times through turnovers.Trailing 14-7 with under two minutes left in the first half, the Cavaliers appeared headed for a touchdown and a 14-14 tie. But Central Catholic 6-3, 225-pound running back/defensive back Ryan Nall stepped in front of a pass for an interception and returned the ball 84 yards for a Central Catholic touchdown and a 21-7 Ram advantage.

Things started going Central Catholics’ way early on. On the Cavaliers’ fifth play from scrimmage, Central Catholic junior defensive back Saadig Calhoun intercepted a tipped pass near the midfield stripe. Seven plays later, Central 6-1, 205-pound junior running back Cameron Scarlett went wide left 10 yards to the end zone.

On the Cavaliers’ next possession, a punt snap to Levi Millay sailed over Millay’s head, giving the Rams possession at the Clackamas 25.

A 31-yard field goal attempt came up short. But the Cavalier miscue gained the Rams momentum. And on the first play of their next possession, Nall busted tackles on a 65-yard touchdown run, upping the Ram lead to 14-0.

Clackamas junior safety Brett Peterson gave the Cavaliers something to cheer about early in the second quarter when he intercepted a pass and returned it 11 yards to the Cavalier 46. Eight plays later, Clackamas senior quarterback Doonie Johnson took the ball in from the one. McDonald split the uprights on the PAT, and it was a 14-7 game.

The Cavaliers got the ball back when Taylor Stinson claimed a Ram fumble for Clackamas at the Cavalier 45. And things looked rosy for Clackamas when a punt and holding penalty pushed the Rams back to the Clackamas 17.

Following a Ram punt, the Cavaliers advanced the ball to second-and-six at the Central Catholic 23. Enter Nall, who stepped in front of a wayward aerial and raced 86 yards to the end zone, gaining Central Catholic a 21-7 lead and momentum heading into the locker room at halftime.

The second half started much like the first. On Clackamas’ third play from scrimmage, Central senior linebacker Tyson Cooper claimed a Cavalier fumble at the Clackamas 41. Two plays later, Scarlett busted a 26-yard run to the end zone for a touchdown and a 28-7 Central Catholic lead.

Central linebacker Jon McFarland intercepted a tipped pass at the Clackamas 34 on the Cavaliers’ next possession, and the Rams had another short field. Five plays later, Nall scored on an eight-yard run, making it 35-7 Central Catholic just five minutes into the third quarter. And the Rams had the game in hand.

Neither team threatened again until near the midpoint of the fourth quarter. Clackamas’ defense stopped a Ram penetration on downs at the Clackamas 34. But on the Cavaliers’ first play from scrimmage, Central senior lineman Sean Rogers sacked Johnson, forcing a fumble. Ram 6-2, 270-pound junior lineman Cam Volker pounced on the miscue, gaining Central the ball at the Clackamas 25. Three plays later, Scarlett scored on a 33-yard pass from senior quarterback Aidan Wilder. And the Rams had their 42-7 winning advantage.

Central Catholic finished with a 348- to 230-yard advantage in total offense.

Nall had 13 rushes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Scarlett rushed 13 times for 73 yards and two touchdowns, and he hauled in six passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.

Wilder completed 7-of-13 passes for 101 yards and one touchdown.

For Clackamas, Sherrell rushed 31 times for 161 yards. But the Rams kept the 5-9, 170-pound running back out of the end zone.

Sherrell upped his season total to 281 carries for 2,266 yards, an all-time single-season school rushing record. Sherrell scored 33 touchdowns (32 rushing) this season, also an all-time school record.

For the Central Catholic game, Wilkins completed 6-of-10 passes for 65 yards, with two interceptions; Johnson completed 2-of-7 passes for 20 yards, with one interception.

Wilkins this season completed 74-of-133 passes (56 percent) for 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns, with six interceptions: Johnson completed 89-of-137 passes (65 percent) for 1,003 yards and four touchdowns, with five interceptions.

Shortly before leaving Hillsboro Stadium, Haehlen gave this advice to returning underclassmen: “Get in the weight room. Everyone get in the weight room and get faster and stronger.

“And be a family. No matter what happens, be a family and be there for one another.”

Looking back on the season, coach Bushman said: “Overall it was a successful season. A great group of kids to work with.... Obviously we were disappointed with the way the season ended, but looking back, it really was a successful year. Finishing with a 9-3 record and second place in the tough Three Rivers League, being ranked sixth in the power rankings and making it to the quarterfinals are all nice accomplishments and rewarding for the senior class who worked hard and stuck together.”

Bushman added: “Next year we will return seven starters from a defense that was much improved this year. That is a good starting point. We lose several key players, but we’re are excited about the prospects of some of our younger kids.”

Starting for the Cavaliers on defense in the quarterfinal with Central Catholic were: seniors Haehlen and Cole Johnson and junior Kyle Anderegg in the line; seniors Stinson and Zach Farnes, junior Nathan Kemp and sophomore Bryce Dickey at linebacker; and senior Jaeden Abraham and juniors Brett Peterson, Hayden Kirsch and Nick Curtis in the defensive secondary.

Starting on offense were: seniors David Reese, Trevor Dunn and Josh Miller, and juniors Colby Taylor and Aidan Kragero in the offensive line; Haehlen and Stinson at tight end; senior Keegan Daley and junior Nick Krska at wide receiver; and Sherrell at running back.

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