Century, Glencoe football players enjoy a win in the annual Les Schwab Bowl
Saturday was one last go-round for four recent Hillsboro area graduates.
Century graduates Zach Allen and Daniel Hernandez, and Glencoe grads Kainoa Hanchett and David Vanoudenhaegen all got in one final high school football game over the weekend, making sure western Washington County was well represented in the 67th annual Les Schwab Bowl.
The Les Schwab Bowl started out as the Oregon Shrine Game back in 1948 and annually pits some of the top big-school graduates from across the state against one another for North versus South bragging rights.
To cap a week of practices, team bonding and other outings, that Hillsboro-area foursome played for the winning team, as the North used a late pick-six from Maurice McSwain to seal a 31-21 victory at Hillsboro Stadium, the high school home field of Hernandez and Allen.
Its been a lot of fun, just getting to know all these guys, hanging out, making bonds, friendships, Hanchett, a running back, said about the experience. Its been a blast.
Other local connections were former Crimson Tide coach Steve Jones, who participated in the festivities as a coach for the North team, and Forest Grove wideout Zac Collins.
In a back-and-forth, turnover-filled affair, the North jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, but the South threatened after former McMinnville quarterback Gage Gubrud hit Springfields Taylor Travess for an 11-yard score with 14:52 to play.
That cut the Souths deficit to 24-21. But former Aloha star McSwain returned an interception his second of the game 35 yards for a touchdown with 2:26 to go to seal a 31-21 win for the North team, its second in a row and third in four years.
The game was Hanchetts favorite part of the week. But it was far from the only part.
Both teams spent the week practicing at Pacific University in Forest Grove, but there was time for fun, and even some community service, during the week, too. Among the excursions, the teams took trips to the Forest Grove Aquatic Center and Big Als, they squared off in a chicken wing-eating battle last week at Buffalo Wild Wings, and they also staged a visit to a local childrens hospital.
The schedule also allowed some downtime, when Allen bonded with some of his fellow players over a few pretty intense games of Go Fish. With many of the weeks activities taking place in familiar territory for the former Jaguar, he served as an ambassador of sorts for the area.
I get to show people where stuff is, where my house is, said Allen, who reports Aug. 1 to Stetson University in Florida to begin his college football career. Its cool that I dont have to travel far to be with all these kids that come from all over the state.
The week was an enjoyable one for Jones as well, who coached the defensive line and got an up-close look at much of the states top football talent in this years high school class.
Every kid is phenomenal, not just in his ability to play the game, but smart and eager and hungry and just phenomenal kids, Jones said.
The former Glencoe coach who will remain involved in the program on the fundraising side smartly figured out that the way to his charges hearts was through their stomachs.
My wife made mounds and mounds of cookies, so I had these boys fed all week, he said. I took really good care of them.
During the game itself, all four Hillsboro-area boys saw plenty of playing time and contributed to the Norths win. Vanoudenhaegen, who followed in his fathers and grandfathers footsteps by participating in the game, was busy on the offensive line, and Hanchett rushed five times for a total of seven yards.
On defense, Allen and Hernandez, both linebackers, supplied South-stopping tackles, including 2½ for losses by Hernandez, who plans to study chemical engineering at Oregon State after graduating from Century with a 3.98 grade point average.
Like Allen, Hanchett and Vanoudenhaegen plan to play college football. They will remain teammates at George Fox, where the football program will stage its first season of play since reinstatement.
The Les Schwab Bowl was a nice warm-up heading into the season after a long layoff since the fall. But it was more than that. It was also a chance to make memories and friends.
First couple days, you dont know who the kids are, Allen noted. You played against them your entire life, but at the end of the week, best friends. Its crazy.