LAKE OSWEGO – A year ago, Payton Roth was in the midst of a breakout season as Jesuit's starting tailback.
But he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the team's fourth game, forcing him to sit and watch as the Crusaders reached the 6A football semifinals.
Now Roth is back and intent on making the most of his senior season. On Friday at No. 5 Lakeridge, he rushed for 224 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries as No. 3 Jesuit ran all over the Pacers 35-6 in a 6A nonleague game.
“For sure, there's definitely a newfound appreciation,” said Roth, who has rushed for 381 yards in the first two games. “I'd like to stop and smell the roses now.”
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Roth ripped off big chunks of yardage behind Jesuit's massive line. He piled up 163 yards on 15 carries in the first half alone, including a seven-yard touchdown to start the scoring, as the Crusaders (2-0) opened a 21-6 lead.
Roth carried only seven times in the second half as Jesuit spread the wealth. Senior Garrett Speer finished with 93 yards and one touchdown on nine carries and junior Lonnie Burt ran for 61 yards and three short scores on 12 carries for the Crusaders, who had 413 rushing yards.
Jesuit's offensive line – senior center Roice Cleeland (6-3, 280), senior guards Sean Khouri (6-2, 275) and Taj Scott (6-1, 201), senior tackle Sylus Wallace (6-2, 298) and junior tackle Liam Cassidy (6-7, 310) – manhandled the Pacers (1-1).
“They're just blessed with big bodies, and they can move, as well,” Roth said. “That makes it really easy for me.”
Cassidy reflected that praise back on Roth.
“I've played with a lot of running backs, and he's the best one I've ever seen,” Cassidy said. “He's got amazing feet. He's so fast, he's shifty and everything. He's got everything I want in a running back.”
It was apparent from the start that Jesuit would control the trenches. Taking advantage of good field position, the Crusaders marched 50, 49 and 52 yards for their first-half touchdowns.
“That's what we do, you know,” Cassidy said. “We love moving guys from Point A to Point B against their will. That's what we like to do. We never assume, but from the first snap, we decided we were going to set the tone. We're going to hit them hard, we're going to hit them fast. We're going to do it all game, as much as possible.”
Lakeridge senior defensive end Tristan Davis (6-7, 250), a transfer from 5A Wilsonville and one of the state's top college recruits, got his first look at Jesuit's vaunted offensive line.
“That's the best of the best,” Davis said. “It was a good experience, coming from 5A. I feel like I made a lot of mental mistakes. They're a great line, but I know I can compete with them. They're well coached. That's what they do. Very fundamental.”
Jesuit's physical edge also showed up on defense as the Crusaders held the explosive Pacers in check. Senior quarterback Ryan Oliver, who threw for 356 yards and five touchdowns in a 47-0 season-opening win over McNary, went 21 for 31 for 252 yards and one score but was unable to get in a consistent rhythm.
The Crusaders applied steady pressure on Oliver, sacking him three times, and they held the Pacers to minus-24 rushing yards.
“We knew they weren't going to be able to run against us,” said Roth, who also played linebacker.
Lakeridge spent much of the game on its heels.
“We knew it was going to be a physical game,” said Pacers senior receiver Lucas Burkeen, who had a team-high seven catches for 74 yards. “They came out and hit us really hard. We expected it, but maybe we weren't ready. But we'll be preparing every week, and we want them back. We want them back in the playoffs.”
Lakeridge senior receiver Baylor Corbin, coming off a 12-catch, 225-yard, three-touchdown performance in the opener, had five catches for 66 yards and one score. Junior receiver Joey Olsen (6-5, 220), one of the top recruits on the West Coast, had two catches for 54 yards.
Jesuit junior cornerback Elias Johnson (6-3, 153) held his own in a head-to-head matchup with Olsen.
“My linemen put the pressure on the quarterback and it makes my job so much easier,” Johnson said. “I couldn't do it without them.”
The Crusaders had something to prove, according to Johnson.
“I don't think anybody really believed we were going to win this game,” Johnson said. “Everyone was saying we were going to get blown out. So we really made a statement.”
It was the kind of performance Jesuit was looking for after opening the season with a 24-21 win over Skyview of Vancouver.
“After last week, I know we beat Skyview, but we weren't happy,” Cassidy said. “It felt like a loss. We just came out tonight and we did the best we could, and we beat them.”