Tigard entered the playoffs on a five-game losing streak to set up a date against North Salem, which boasted one of the most explosive offenses in the state.
The Tigers shut out North Salem, 17-0, for their first win in a month and a half. However, in the state quarterfinals, Tigard lost, 43-0, to Sherwood to end its season.
It was that kind of a whiplash season for Tigard, dating all the way back to spring long before the season’s opening kickoff. It continued through a four-game winning streak to open the year, through the losing streak to wrap up the regular season, and then through the playoff run.
“I think my biggest accomplishment as a coach isn’t getting to the quarterfinals,” said Ken Feist, interim head coach for Tigard this year. “It’s that nobody left he program. Everyone was all in. Kids could’ve easily transferred, but they stuck together. We made one heck of a run.”
John Kemper, Tigard’s head coach for four years, resigned in April. It was a bit too late for the school to conduct a full coaching search, and after some discussions, the school named Feist interim coach for the season.
Feist had spent the previous season as the freshman team coach, but had spent more than a decade as a coach in the Tualatin Valley Youth Football League. He was someone most of the players were already familiar with, and had already been coached by him at some point in their careers.
He asked a few coaches to move to new positions, asked a few coaches who planned on stepping aside to stick around, and had to fill in the gaps by finding more coaches. All in all, 17 coaches throughout the program were moved around or brought in.
Feist said he doesn’t anticipate staying on as head coach, but would be open to remaining involved with the program in some capacity. Another reason for that, though, is his son, Jake Feist, is a senior at Tigard and will be graduating this year. Jake Feist was the starting quarterback this year. Ken Feist also has a daughter in middle school, and said he’d like to get more involved with her sports moving forward.
“I’m really honored and appreciative of this opportunity,” Ken Feist said. “Not everyone can coach kids through their youth and high school career, and coach their son. I haven’t given it much thought yet, but hopefully I’m leaving the program better off than we found it.”
Coming into the playoffs, South Salem hadn’t scored fewer than 40 points in a game. Quarterback Athan Palmateer led League 6A with 2,862 passing yards and 29 passing touchdowns this year.
On a rainy night, neither team had much success moving the ball. Tigard clung to a 3-0 lead until the fourth quarter, when quarterback Gavyn Simmons connected on touchdown passes to both Roman Martin and Trevin Laird.
“We were always confident in our ability to play with teams,” Ken Feist said. “Three Rivers League is extremely strong. The league battle tested us for opponents and for South Salem. We held a really good offensive team to no points. Offensively, we struggled a little bit. That was our theme for the year. We just didn’t get it done offensively like we needed to.”
That caught up to Tigard in the quarterfinals against Sherwood, the top defense in the state. At one point in the year, Sherwood had seven straight shutouts.
“It’s the kind of defense that stifles most teams,” Ken Feist said. “We rushed for 21 yards. That’s not a great way of moving the ball. There were opportunities there. Defensively, we hung in there well enough. They had a couple of pick-sixes, which made the score less indicative of how tough we played. Their defense was their bread and butter all year.”
Top performers this season
Tigard’s defense was key to the season-opening winning streak, especially thanks to a few juniors who should help keep Tigard strong on that side of the ball next year. Ivan Morales led Three Rivers League with 71 tackles this year and Laird finished fourth in the league with 65 tackles.
Colt Ness finished second in the league with five interceptions, and Laird was fourth with three interceptions.
Elsewhere on defense, senior Dane Breen had a strong year, with 57 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. Brian Smith, Jr., led Tigard in both tackles for loss with eight and sacks with 3.5.
On offense, Jake Feist showed off his athleticism by leading the team in passing with 827 yards and rushing with 422 yards. Senior Christian Warner was close by with 402 rushing yards this season, and led the Tigers with four rushing touchdowns.
Laird was a standout on both sides of the ball, leading Tigard with 372 receiving yards this year.
“The junior class is really strong, as is the sophomore class and freshman class,” Ken Feist. “Whoever comes in as coach will have a team that is very athletic, very talented. They’re going to be very strong.”