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Loss to Lions ends Lakers massive streak

A 7-3 defeat snaps a string of 48 straight wins over TRL opponents


by: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego's Mitch Verburg follows through on a pass attempt during the Lakers' 7-3 loss to West Linn on Friday.“Streaks are made to be broken and I really haven't reflected on it at all. I know the kids have never talked about it much,” coach Steve Coury said following his team's 7-3 loss to West Linn on Friday, the Lakers' first loss to a league opponent in 48 games.

And, of course, that's the right attitude. Lake Oswego can do nothing but look forward and each Lake Oswego team is always intent on writing its own chapter in the program's history. Plus there is still much work to be done as, despite a 1-4 start and an 0-1 start in league, the Three Rivers League is still up for grabs and the Lakers figure to still be very much in the thick of that race.

But Lake Oswego's league dominance is worth noting now that followers can process the entirety of its run. Not only have the Lakers owned the TRL, they have been virtually untested in close to 50 games. Prior to last week's loss, the only time the Lakers hadn't bested a league opponent by at least 10 points came in 2010, coincidentally against West Linn, in a 7-6 game that had a similar feeling to Friday's.

West Linn entered last week's game with confidence, riding a two-game winning streak after opening the season 0-2. After stuffing the Lions on a fourth-and-one on West Linn's opening possession, Lake Oswego found it difficult to get anything going on offense.

The Lakers garnered just one first down on their first four drives and had just 38 yards of offense in the opening quarter.

But Lake Oswego's defense kept it in the game. Midway through the second period, it looked like the Laker defense had given its team the lead.

“We're just not clicking on offense for whatever reason and I take full responsibility for that. The defense played great against an offense that's been scoring a lot of points and gave us a chance to win until the final minute,” Coury said.

A West Linn receiver juggled a pass attempt and Nick Underwood picked it off, returning the ball to the end zone. However, the return was called back by a penalty, still giving Lake Oswego the ball at West Linn's 33-yard line.

After picking up just its second first down of the game and reaching the 20-yard line, a bad snap and an intentional grounding penalty made it fourth-and-37 and the Lakers were forced to punt.

On West Linn's next drive, the Lions marched down the field, getting to the two-yard line before fumbling to the Lakers, preserving the shutout.

Lake Oswego was able to move away from the goal line on three quarterback keepers by Zach Parker before the half.

During the break, the wind picked up and a powerful rain storm moved over the stadium. The Lakers opened the second half with the ball and, on third down, Verburg found Jordan Horak on a short pass that went for 43 yards down to the 12-yard line.

But Lake Oswego couldn't get any further and settled for a 28-yard field goal by Ethan Agritelley for the first points of the game.

West Linn answered on its first drive of the second half. The Lions reached midfield before facing another fourth-and-one and going for it again.

The Lions turned to tailback Louie Germain, who provided the bulk of West Linn's offense in the contest. He found a seam and broke through the packed Laker defense for a 50-yard touchdown, giving his team a 7-3 lead following the point after.

West Linn controlled the clock for much of the second half, racking up yards on the ground and with short passes.

Still, Lake Oswego was just one big play away from potentially stealing a victory. After a punt backed the Lakers up to their own one-yard line, a 14-yard run from Underwood moved Lake Oswego out of trouble and a pass interference penalty against the Lions gave the team another first down.

“The kids kept playing hard and I was still really optimistic. I thought we were going to score and win the game,” Coury said.

But Lake Oswego came up short on fourth down and the Lions came away with their first win against the Lakers in 13 years.

Lake Oswego hosts another strong opponent next week in Canby, a team that is coming off a victory against Oregon City.

“I said at the beginning of the year that I thought it was going to be really tough to go undefeated in this league. I think we're still getting better, we just have to quit beating ourselves,” Coury said.

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