Oregon's 2005 high school football season wrapped up during the second weekend in December at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon with championship finals for the 1A through 4A schools. Autzen presents a magical stage for the athletes. It's a premier facility and provides an aura of "big time" football with its rich history of being the home field of the University of Oregon Ducks. Ask the kids involved in the games and it is likely every one of them savored the memories of playing at Autzen...even those that came up on the short end of the score.
Friday night's championship games were held under cold, clear skies featuring the 1A and 2A schools. First up was South Wasco County from Maupin against Mohawk of Marcola in the 1A Eight Man Football Championship. The Indians of Mohawk racked up 487 yards on offense, 414 of those rushing led by Tyson Ludwig with 224 yards. In the end, it was Mohawk that lifted the championship trophy by defeating South Wasco 44-18.
The 2A matchup pitted Vale High School against Nyssa High School. These two teams are from the extreme eastern edge of Oregon, only about 25 miles apart. On any given day, it's about a 30 minute drive between these local rivals. However, this was not just any given day. To compete for the 2A crown, these teams traveled about 350 miles, or 7 hours, to play each other on the championship stage under the lights of Autzen. Nyssa put together a strong running game led by Paul Jones with 218 yards to defeat Vale 19-2. The two points accumulated by Vale were perhaps the most unique 2 points in high school football history. Oregon is the only state in the nation currently experimenting with a new rule that limits the number of points a defensive team can score during the offence's post-touchdown conversion attempt. With 1:05 left in the third quarter Jason Noland of Vale intercepted Nyssa's two point conversion pass attempt in the endzone and ran 100 yards for the score, which made Jason's run likely the longest run ever for the least number of points...all it got his team was 2 points.
Saturday's first afternoon game matched up the 2003 3A champion, Marist High School of Salem, against Sherwood High School, which lost to Wilsonville in the 2004 3A championship. Sherwood's hopes of capturing their first state championship were dashed as Marist turned up the power in the fourth quarter to come from behind and edging out Sherwood with a 17-13 victory. The game was very balanced as Marist combined with 136 yards passing and 98 yards rushing for 234 yards and Sherwood tallied 130 passing yards along with 118 yards rushing for 248 yards total.
The final game of the championship series highlighted the Lincoln Cardinals of Portland against the Jesuit Crusaders of Beaverton. Lincoln fought their way to Autzen topping off a Cinderella season to bring the Cardinals to their first championship appearance in the school's 136 year history. The dream was nearly realized until Lincoln had a punt blocked with 2:53 left in the fourth quarter that Jesuit recovered on the Lincoln 3 yard line. It was a cake walk into the endzone by Jesuit quarterback Austin Pearce that turned Lincoln's carriage into a pumpkin, ending the Cinderella story as Jesuit claimed the 4A championship in thrilling style with a 14-10 victory.
More OSAA High School Football Championship photos can be found in the Oregon Sports Photos archive.
1A Championship: Mohawk 44 - South Wasco County 18
2A Championship: Nyssa 19 - Vale 2
3A Championship: Marist 17 - Sherwood 13
4A Championship: Jesuit 14 - Lincoln 10