By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The offense produced behind their offensive line.
Anthony Gould and Gideon Giles split the first four touchdowns right down the middle as West Salem led Southridge 27-7 in the second quarter of the opening round of the 6A playoffs to set the pace in the Titans 50-burger production Friday night to advance to the Sweet 16 round of the playoffs.
“Oh yeah it means everything, our line has been doubted and they’re undersized but they’ve came out and gave it their all,” said Giles, who had two touchdowns in the 57-28 win. “We tell them every week to give it their all and leave everything on the field because we know we need them. It means everything, we definitely have to pick those boys up this week, give them some treats.”
And though many are still snacking on their Halloween treats, West Salem got their fair share of treats on defense as well. Interceptions when they needed them, Noah Franco had a fumble recovery in the third quarter after Alex Hurlburt poke the ball out.
There was a lull in the second where the Skyhawks kept up with the scoring pace of the Titans as Gould picks up his third touchdown of the game with the score being 33-21 after a Pick-Six but West Salem made sure it was just a blip on the radar.
“It’s good for us. The defense, they needed to make plays and a statement early to help our offense and get things going for them,” said Noah Juarez, who had two interceptions in the game. “With us forcing turnovers, our D-Line doing what they need to do and it makes the secondary’s job a lot easier. I just think, with how hard we’ve been playing our defense is just helping our offense. It’s just boosting our confidence for sure.”
They tacked on another score, Kyla Gordon connected on a Field Goal, Gould struck again from 12-yards out to hit the 50-point mark as the mojo was flowing.
That mojo will be needed next Friday where it’ll be like straight out of Friday Night Lights almost.
They are facing probably an equivalent to the Dallas Carter team from the movie with their lineman peaking as high as 275 pounds and receivers around six-foot in Clackamas. Not to mention their 23-game winning streak dating back to when they lost to a Tim Tawa-led West Linn team in the Semi-Final game in 2016.
It’s going to be work for their line to go up against that size, it’s going to be a tough task ahead of them entering this upcoming week, but West Salem is confident that they can pull some of that Odessa-like magic and find a way to be in the game by game’s end and throughout it.
“Honestly, I think we like being the underdogs,” said Juarez. “It just gives us more of a fire and I just know we’re going to go out on Monday at practice and get after it. Go harder than we would.”
“We just have to come out and just have no doubt. We obviously know we’re going to be the underdogs and that we have nothing to lose, so we have to give it our all,” adds Giles. “It’s a mindset thing. We just have to understand that we have nothing to lose. Everyone is going to be doubting us. I bet we’re not going to get anyone going to say we’re going to win, so we’ll have to go prove everyone wrong. We just have to keep that chip on our shoulder and use it to our advantage.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald