In what may have been the most anticipated game of the Three Rivers League 2019 high school football period, undefeated Tigard challenged Tualatin in the 9th game to close out the regular season.
Attracting national attention and on ESPN’s national high school football game of the week, the Three Rivers League championship title was on the line with both teams having a thirst for victory.
Tigard stayed on their home turf for the match which gained them a slight advantage, but Tualatin was still ranked number 2 based on win-loss records and they weren’t going to give in easily.
With a kickoff from Tigard and the silencing of the pep band, the game was off.
Cheers were louder than ever before with both stands filled to the brim and leaking off into the field sidelines.
But the game hadn’t really begun until Tigard’s Josh Burns (#8) ran 72 yards, three minutes into the game and emerged from within a crowd of trampled players for a Tigard touchdown.
Even if Tigard gained any advantage from playing at their school, the wolves brought their home with them as their fans were roaring louder than ever before, and only a few seconds later, Tualatin’s Kainoa Sayre (#21) ran 45 yards to tie up the game.
They even gained a lead on the Tigers when Malik Ross (#23) ran 37 yards with a THS player latched onto his foot. The score was 14 – 7 with Tualatin leading; the first moment of the season thus far where Tigard was behind by any amount of points.
“It was one heck of a battle,” Tigard Head Coach John Kemper said. “They’re obviously well-coached, they battled our kids, fought through it, and we had some adversity.”
Tualatin hadn’t taken on Tigard and won since 2015, so it seemed overdue for the Wolves, but a couple of minutes into the second half and THS regained their lead. It was only slightly with 16 – 14 after Tualatin had deflected a 1-point kick.
Eventually, Tigard’s Hunter Gilbert (#3) got his hands on the ball, but without his usual gains. Running a full… 15 yards, he had to crawl his way around the field. Underneath a cocoon of Tualatin tacklers, but without giving up the fight, he impressively walked around for 20 seconds underneath the pile of bodies.
However, the weight of it all proved its worth when the following play landed a 19-yard pass to Tigard’s Tyler Penn (#2) and advancing the score to 23 – 14.
Tualatin’s Sayre assumed the final points of the regular-season leading to a close loss for the Timberwolves at 23 – 21.
Tigard was able to keep their undefeated streak throughout the entirety of the regular-season going 9 – 0 and taking the Three Rivers League crown even when up against West Linn, Lake Oswego and Tualatin.
Tualatin fared pretty well too with a regular-season record of 7 – 2, placing second in the Three Rivers League, and toppling the previous state champions: Lake Oswego.
Even with the initial season at its end, the real fun begins with the playoffs and both teams able to participate.
“Going into the postseason is super exciting,” Tigard’s quarterback Drew Carter (#9) said. “It’s a grind and our team has the will to do it. We just try to play as hard as we can.”