PORTLAND – Mountainside has come a long way in a short time to contend for a Metro League football title this season.
But Friday night it became clear that the Mavericks, in their fifth season, still have a ways to go before they can take down Metro kingpin Jesuit.
The No. 4 Crusaders (7-1, 4-0) defended their home turf in emphatic fashion, thumping the previously unbeaten Mavericks 40-10 to clinch at least a share of the league title with one game remaining. Senior Payton Roth, 6A's rushing leader, showed the way by rambling for 201 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries before sitting out the second half.
“We definitely want that Metro title,” Roth said. “The big boys up front definitely made it easy on me. We were hitting really hard, and we were playing physical. It worked out.”
Jesuit has won five in a row since a 31-20 loss to No. 1 West Linn. After dispatching the Mavericks (7-1, 3-1), the Crusaders can claim the Metro title outright next week at home against Beaverton (1-7, 1-3).
“We knew we had to win this game to keep our Metro League championship hopes alive,” senior running back and linebacker Garrett Speer said. “It's still up for grabs next week, so we've got to get it done next week, too.”
The Crusaders have been riding their line and the legs of the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Roth. He has rushed for 957 yards and 15 touchdowns in the last four games, giving him 1,636 yards and 20 scores for the season.
“He's a very special, talented young man whose patience and vision give him great ability,” Jesuit coach Ken Potter said. “When he puts his foot in the ground, he can accelerate with anybody. He's had a great year, and we just hope he can stay healhty and have a great second part of the year.”
It helps Roth that Jesuit can keep defenses honest with an efficient passing game. In Friday's win, junior quarterback Jacob Hutchinson completed 12 of 16 passes for a season-high 217 yards and two touchdowns, a 35-yard deep ball to junior Jace Burton and a 40-yarder on a screen to Speer. Hutchinson also ran for a score.
“The throwing game doesn't happen if we don't have Payton and our line, obviously,” Hutchinson said. “I have so much time just to sit back there and pick defenses apart. I don't really do much. It's all Payton Roth getting those 300-yard games, and our offensive line opening holes you can drive through.”
By proving they can throw, Jesuit will give opposing defenses something to think about in the playoffs.
“It lets teams know that you can't just stack the box when you try to stop our run, because if you do, our pass will definitely be open,” Roth said. “It definitely makes us scary.”
Hutchinson said the Crusaders won't be shy about throwing in the playoffs.
“In practice, we work on throwing probably a little bit more than we work on our running just because we know we have those big boys up front, and they're always going to get us yards, and Payton's always going to have a great game,” Hutchinson said.
Roth scored on runs of 4, 80 and 6 yards as Jesuit opened a 21-0 lead with 7:06 left in the first half. After Mountainside senior Holden Phillips made a 35-yard field goal, Hutchinson tossed two scoring passes to make it 34-3 at half. Hutchinson's one-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter sent the game to a running clock.
Jesuit outgained Mountainside 371-23 in the first half and finished with a 491-78 advantage. Through three quarters, the Mavericks had eight total yards and one first down as the Crusaders tackled in waves. Mountainside junior quarterback Alex Ingalls finished 1 of 10 for 10 yards with one interception, by junior Matt Eilers in the first quarter.
Potter said he was “especially pleased” with how the defense performed its assignments considering the Crusaders were forced to practice indoors Wednesday and Thursday due to poor air quality.
“We were mainly just walking through and saying, 'Here's what you've got to be aware of,'” Potter said. “But the kids really focused and did a good job with the defensive game plan that our coaches came up with.”
Speer rushed for 58 yards on nine carries and had two catches for 45 yards and one touchdown. Burton had five catches for 59 yards, Lonnie Burt had three catches for 48 yards and sophomore Grant Valley had one catch for 41 yards.
Mountainside got its lone touchdown in the fourth quarter on a three-yard run by 6-3, 175-pound freshman reserve Sam Vyhlidal, who rushed for 67 yards on eight carries.
“I like the fact that we kept fighting. We never caved in,” Mavericks coach John Mannion said. “We're going to try to pick up the pieces on this one. A couple plays got away from us, and against a good team, you can't do that. They'll make you pay.
“They're a good team. It was their night. They beat us up front, not through our lack of effort. Tonight it just wasn't quite enough. But we're still going. We're still here. Seven-and-one ain't bad.”