In a season meant to fill in for everything last year wasn’t, Tigard football found themselves up against a familiar foe under the Sept. 18 Friday night lights at Mountainside High School.
The two teams last met in the 2019 second round of playoffs, where seeded 16 Mountainside upset the (then first seeded) Tigers in overtime. That also happened to be the first official meeting between these teams as Mountainside’s first varsity team was formed in 2018.
But only a few current seniors were on the varsity team in 2019.
“We can’t live in the past, we got to move forward,” Tigard Head Coach John Kemper told Tigard Life. “A handful of these seniors were on that varsity playoff team, but then a lot of (our players) were freshmen so that wasn’t on our radar. So, we just stuck to our process and worried about this game this year.”
That strategy worked like a charm for the Tigers, who went out and recorded their first win of the 2021 season after downing the Mavericks 30-13.
Both teams were looking for their first win of the year. The Tigers lost 48-6 to Sunset in the season opener and 17-7 to Jesuit a week later. Mountainside was in a similar situation, having lost 40-7 to Lake Oswego and 49-16 to Westview.
“We made some mistakes week one,” Kemper said. “You know, Sunset’s a really good team and we made a lot of mistakes, made some critical mistakes against Jesuit too – a game that we felt we were evenly matched with. If we turned the ball over, for example, we found out that we fall apart a little bit mentally.”
Tigard scored first to open things up, as quarterback Henry Masters-Doble hit wide receiver Karson Boschma all the way down to the Mountainside 2-yard line. On 1st and goal, Grant nudged his way through the conglomerate of Mavericks to secure the first score of the night, four minutes in.
In short retaliation, the kicked PAT was swat down, but on the Mavs’ next possession, they struggled to make any ground.
Forced to punt from their own 30-yard line, the ball landed on Tigard’s 25, but not before striking a Tigard player. Mountainside, quick on their toes, made headway with the unintentional play to recover the ball. On the next play, quarterback Brian Mannion found Quinn O’Conner in the endzone to strike back and give the Mavericks a 7-6 lead at the end of the quarter. A two-play wonder to sap Tigard’s newly found motivation.
Unlike previous matchups, this turnover wouldn’t linger for the Tigers. Grant took the handoff from Masters-Doble, ran on the left side and an attempted tackle by Mountainside’s Fred Carlo actually launched Grant into an open field and allowed him to scamper for a 55-yard touchdown.
Two minutes later, Tigard running back Luke Davis scored his second touchdown of the season to give the Tigers a 20-7 lead with 7:09 left in the half. Then, a sack on Mannion by Tigard linebacker Elijah Jackman led to a fumble that Jackman recovered on the Mountainside 37-yard line.
By the end of the half, Jackman added another turnover to his name, recovering a fumble on the 1-foot line to prevent a Mavericks score and preserve a 20-7 Tigard lead at halftime – something the Tigers weren’t exactly used to seeing.
“We were used to losing, but we were just really hungry this week,” Tigard tight end Austin Goetz said. “We focused all week, practiced really hard and our guys were ready to come together.”
Quarter three went by in a flash, and Mountainside finally began to make a move in the fourth.
After several Mountainside passes to senior Keenan Speer-Johnson, who transferred from Tigard at the end of last year, their tight end, Zac Brown, scored on a 31-yard run. But the following two-point conversion throw was knocked down by Leif Beers, leaving the Mavs trailing 23-13.
With the final hand-off from Masters-Doble to Grant, he brought home a third touchdown of the night to finalize the score at 30-13.
“It’s fun to get a win and enjoy it,” Goetz said. “We’re coming off two losses but it’s the first of many hopefully and we got a lot to improve and a lot to prove.”
“I think the guys were just excited,” Kemper said. “We did have some times where we made some mistakes, and I think we bounced back better tonight than we did in the first two games after making mistakes.”
Statistically, Grant had 180 yards on 24 rushes with three touchdowns, while Davis also ran 24 times for 145 yards and a touchdown. Tigard moved to 1-2 on the season with Mountainside winless at 0-3.
“Feels a lot better this way,” Kemper said in his post-game speech to the team. “Do not be satisfied with one. Enjoy it, but there’s still going to be a lot to learn from tomorrow (when we review film). We come back; we go back to work.”