North Medford head coach Nathan Chin saw firsthand what the West Linn offense is capable of when he made his debut on the Black Tornado sideline 12 months ago.
Entering his second season at the helm, the Lions did nothing to deter those thoughts on Friday night.
With new quarterback Sam Leavitt and star receiver Mark Hamper in the lead, second-ranked West Linn’s powerful offense scored early and often en route to 45 points in the first half as North suffered a 52-7 loss at Willamette High School in Eugene.
“We definitely came across one of the best teams in the state, without a doubt,” Chin said. “We had a few mishaps early on that didn’t help us and that really got us in the guts early on so it took us a bit of time to try and get our wind back.”
Originally scheduled to be played at Spiegelberg Stadium, Friday night’s game was moved north to Eugene due to poor air quality in Medford due to wildfire smoke.
West Linn (1-0) scored on every possession in the first half, as Leavitt – a transfer from Westview who has verbally committed to play at Washington State next season – completed his first six assists and was 12 for 16 with a pair of passing touchdowns before halftime.
Leavitt, who threw for nearly 2,300 yards and 28 touchdowns last season, and Hamper fueled the Lions’ first-half onslaught.
The Lions took a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game when Koffi Kouame capped the first try with a one-yard touchdown run. After North (0-1) had three hits on his first possession, Hamper – who had three touchdown receptions in last year’s game against the Tornado – showed his ability to play, scoring on a return from 61-yard clearance to pass West Linn. conduct.
West Linn made it 17-0 on Gage Hurych’s 34-yard field goal before Hamper capped the Lions’ 24-point first quarter with an 11-yard run on a backhand.
“I’ve been telling the kids all week, when you’re going to play against the top teams, you can’t start slow,” Chin said, “you can’t let them start early when we’re still trying to gain ground. We have to hit all the cylinders early – and they were and we weren’t.
“They do such a good job,” Chin continued, “and obviously (Leavitt) an extremely talented kid, super athletic, he runs and he’s able to throw the ball in different slots. He does a really good job of finding windows (to be thrown away).
It was a different story offensively for North, with senior quarterback Caiden Lacey — making his first start for the Black Tornado himself after playing his junior season at Eagle Point — starting 1 for 5 through the air. His sixth pass attempt turned out to be a 30-yard pick by West Linn linebacker Earl Ingle on the first play of the second quarter.
Leavitt threw 17 and 7 yard touchdown passes to Hamper and Wiley Donnerberg, respectively, to push the Lions up to 45-0.
North, unofficially, finished with almost as many yards on penalties (30) as he recorded on the ground (39) in the first half.
“There were times when we didn’t deal with their oblique play and we had a few missed passes early on,” Chin said. “They were all challenged and would have been tough catches, but if you could make those catches and take care of some things up front, we could have moved the chains and kept the ball a little longer. ”
North came on the scoreboard late in the third quarter when Lacey was able to get back into the pocket to escape the pressure and then connect with tight end Kellen Thomey for a 35-yard touchdown pass.
Lacey passed 7 of 16 for 101 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Thomey caught three passes for 49 yards, while Connor Cesaro caught four passes for 28 yards.
Black Tornado senior running back Ty Pugliano finished with 66 yards on 16 carries.
“I think our biggest message is that, number 1, you have to learn from this and we have to fix the mistakes that happened early in the game,” said Chin, whose side face Bend (1-0) next Friday evening. “And, the second piece, after learning from what happened, we have to keep our eyes forward. We have a tough conference schedule ahead of us after a non-conference game next week, so we have to learn quickly so that we can get things done on our own.
WL – Kouame 1 run (Hurych kick)
WL – Hamper 61 punt return (Hurych kick)
WL — Hurych 34 field goal
WL – Hamper 11 Race (Hurych Kick)
WL – Ingle 30 interception return (Hurych kick)
WL – Hamper 17 pass from Leavitt (Hurych kick)
WL – Donnerberg 7 pass from Leavitt (Hurych kick)
WL – Pass Smiley 70 from Leavitt (Hurych kick)
NM – Thomey 35 pass from Lacey (Knobloch-Scott kick)
Contact reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.
Kellen Thomey, North Medford Football
Caiden Lacey, North Medford Football
Ty Pugliano, North Medford football