In Steve Coury’s first 14 seasons as Lake Oswego’s football coach – from 1992 to 2005 -- the Lakers never played against state powerhouse Jesuit.
“When we first started building the program, we tried to hide from them,” Coury said.
Since then, the teams seemingly can’t get out of each other’s way. They have met 13 times since 2006, with Lake Oswego winning eight, including four of the five 6A playoff matchups.
“As time went on, I felt like, ‘Let’s step up into the category they’re in, because that’s where we want to get to,’” Coury said. “We’ve just had some awesome games.”
Top-ranked and reigning state champion Lake Oswego (1-0) plays host to No. 3 Jesuit (1-0) on Friday night as the two heavyweights renew what has become one of the state’s best rivalries. The Lakers have won the last three meetings, 48-17 in the 2017 quarterfinals and twice last season, 20-14 in Week 2 and 24-14 in the state semifinals.
If Lake Oswego is going to defend its title this season, there’s a decent chance the Lakers will have to go through the Crusaders, who typically present an imposing physical challenge.
“It’s always fun playing them, because they’re obviously the storied program in the state of Oregon, or at least one of them,” Coury said. “They’re very good at doing what they do. I’m very anxious to watch our kids play, and get smacked in the mouth, and see how we react to that.”
The game will be revealing for Jesuit, too.
“It is a tough Week 2 matchup, and we will try our best to compete,” said Ken Potter, the Crusaders’ coach since 1987. “They look bigger, stronger and faster than us, but we will show up and see what happens.”
Lake Oswego lost lots to graduation but still has the reigning 6A offensive player of the year in senior running back Casey Filkins, who has committed to California. In last week’s 42-21 win at West Salem, Filkins rushed for 210 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries and had two catches for 36 yards.
“He took the game into his own hands on a few of his runs,” Coury said. “I’m not sure we blocked anybody, and he ends up taking the ball and scoring somehow. He’s just a special, special athlete.”
Lake Oswego anticipates seeing defenses stack up against Filkins as the season progresses. He certainly will have Jesuit’s full attention.
“Filkins looked phenomenal in Week 1,” Potter said. “They have big linemen that create lanes to run and Casey has that patience to wait for a crease and explode.”
The Lakers need to be cautious about overusing Filkins, though, especially considering he was limited in preseason practices due to a tender groin.
“He’s still not in game shape,” Coury said. “He breaks a long run and he’s got to take a play off or two.”
The Lakers are breaking in a new quarterback in junior JJ Woodin, a transfer from Westview, where he was the starter last season. In the opener, he completed 7 of 13 passes for 75 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions.
“He was disappointed in his performance,” Coury said. “I think he pressed to try to do too much. The biggest thing for him to realize is he doesn’t have to do it all. He’s got to relax and let the game come to him.”
Jesuit is coming off a 28-3 win over Mountainside in which it had a 458-102 edge in yards. The Crusaders rushed for 263 yards, getting 115 from Kade Wisher and 106 from Ted Atkinson, an impressive debut considering they returned only two starters on offense, one on the offensive line.
“So for a first game I was pleased with effort, if not execution,” Potter said. “We are still trying to find our strength and our identity. I feel like it will be ongoing for a while. We had more experience a year ago, and need to work on communication and technique.”
A glance at other Week 2 games around the state:
Eastside Catholic (Wash.) (1-0) vs. No. 2 Central Catholic (1-0) at Hillsboro Stadium: There is a buzz that Eastside Catholic, Washington’s reigning 3A champion and ranked 19th in the nation by USA Today, could be the best team in state history. The Crusaders opened with a 47-20 home win over Grant of Sacramento. The Rams came back in the fourth quarter to win 35-27 at No. 6 West Linn on two touchdown passes from Cade Knighton to Silas Starr. Last year, Eastside Catholic defeated visiting Central Catholic 49-26.
Tigard (1-0) at Barlow (1-0): Barlow is 0-3 against Tigard the last two seasons – including playoff losses in the first round (42-35) in 2017 and second round (45-20) last year – but the Bruins finally get the Tigers on their home turf. In Week 2 last year, Tigard rolled over Barlow 58-14.
No. 1 Thurston (1-0) at No. 5 Sheldon (0-1): Is reigning 5A champion Thurston ready to stake a claim for Eugene supremacy against traditional 6A power Sheldon? It will take a huge effort against the Irish, who beat Thurston 58-7 last year. The Colts were firing on all cylinders in a 55-0 win over Churchill last week. Sheldon was held to 240 total yards in a 21-14 loss at Graham-Kapowsin, the third-ranked 4A team in Washington.
No. 5 Lebanon (1-0) at No. 10 Dallas (1-0): The loaded Mid-Willamette Conference has four teams in the top 10 of the OSAAtoday 5A coaches poll, including the Warriors and Dragons. Both teams ran at will in their openers last week as Lebanon blasted Corvallis 62-28 and Dallas dispatched South Albany 58-13. Lebanon’s Keith Brown, one of the nation’s top linebacker recruits, rushed for 154 yards in three touchdowns. The Warriors beat Dallas 37-16 last year.
Crescent Valley (1-0) at No. 3 West Albany (1-0): West Albany, which shared the Mid-Willamette title with Silverton last year, gets an early test against the Raiders. The Bulldogs took to the air on a 40-7 win over McKay last week as Carson Van Dyke threw four touchdown passes, three to Connor Wolfe. Silverton rolled 50-0 at Central, the Foxes’ first shutout since 2016.
No. 3 Marist Catholic (1-0) at Seaside (0-1): The Spartans will be looking for some payback against Seaside, which defeated them 33-22 in a 4A nonleague game last year. Marist Catholic’s Max Campbell threw for 338 yards and six touchdowns, four to Hagen Stephens, in last week’s 55-13 win over Sweet Home. Seaside, last year’s 4A runner-up, fell to Henley 14-7 in its first game under coach Aaron Tanabe.
No. 1 Rainier (1-0) at No. 6 Scio (1-0): Rainier, last year’s 3A champion, starting strong by forcing six turnovers in beating Kennedy, last year’s 2A champion, 22-0. Now the Columbians get a nonleague game against the Loggers, who opened by routing 4A Molalla 36-7. Rainier defeated Scio 39-0 in 2018.
No. 3 Heppner (1-0) at No. 2 Santiam (1-0): Two 2A contenders collide in a nonleague game. Heppner is coming off a 27-20 win over 3A No. 8 Clatskanie in which Jayden Wilson passed for a touchdown and ran for two scores. Santiam blanked Willamina 34-0. In last year’s meeting, the Wolverines prevailed 14-8.
No. 8 Toledo (1-0) at No. 5 Knappa (1-0): Toledo, which allowed 42.4 points per game last season, smothered Nestucca 31-6 in its opener, but now gets Knappa, which drilled the Boomers 70-28 a year ago. The Loggers fell behind at Grant Union 14-6 last week before rallying for a 24-14 win.
No. 4 Crane (1-0) at No. 2 Adrian / Jordan Valley (1-0): The Antelopes posted the most surprising result in the state last week, going on the road for a 66-8 win over four-time reigning 1A champion Dufur, ending the Rangers’ 33-game winning streak. Adrian / Jordan Valley will try to build on that momentum against Special District 3 rival Crane, a team it lost to 36-32 last year.