WEST LINN, Ore. (KOIN) — The key to cracking West Linn’s winning code was hidden in hours of film — a formula waiting to be discovered, and a challenge waiting to be met.
If Tigard wanted to beat the defending state champions, something that hadn’t happened since Dec, 5, 2015, then Oregon-bound recruit Braden Lenzy would have to go head-to-head with West Linn star wide receiver Qawi Ntsasa and prevail.
“We go hard in the film,” Lenzy said, “and we saw 72% of their third downs went to Qawi. We figured if I could shut him down most of the time … we could shut them out.”
Lenzy held Ntsasa in check while the rest of the Tigard defense got after West Linn quarterback Ethan Long and company, leading to a 9-0 shutout victory for the Tigers.
“Being able to have a Braden on your team and to have a team atmosphere like we have … we just went out and did it,” said Tigard linebacker Jacob Beck.
Tigard’s Spencer Smith scored the only touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run in the first quarter, but that’s all the Tigers would need. Jackson Cleaver added a field goal in the third quarter for extra insurance.
The win also puts the Tigers on the fast track to a Three-Rivers League title. West Linn and Lake Oswego are tied for second behind Tigard, which is 4-0 in league play.
Lenzy’s first test against Ntsasa came on the second play of the game. Long threw a quick out to Ntsasa, but Lenzy, showcasing his state-championship winning track speed, was immediately there to make the play. A couple plays later, West Linn got crafty with Ntsasa, motioning him in the backfield, hoping for a quick throw and a chance to watch the future Division I player dance in open space. But the ball went behind Ntsasa for a fumble, which he fell on for a 10-yard loss.
Highlights from the rest of the KOIN 6 Blitz games at the bottom of this article
Without Ntsasa running wild, like he has all season, the West Linn offense struggled while the rest of the Tigard defense feasted. The Tigers defense forced 4 turnovers, including interceptions from Smith and Lenzy’s younger brother, Max.
Despite West Linn’s first half struggles, it seemed almost inevitable that a team that had won 19 games in a row would battle back. The Tigard defense erased any chance of a momentum swing on the Lions’ first offensive play of the second half, getting a huge 7-yard sack.
We came out and it gave us that extra energy boost we needed to make that extra push to go out there and win that game,” Beck said.
Later on, Beck — an all-state wrestler — put an exclamation point on the team’s defensive show, body-slamming West Linn running back Dawson Jolley to the turf for a loss.
“I think we all just kind of got our sports mixed up on that one,” Beck joked. “I thought this was a mat.”
West Linn made a late drive, but Smith made an interception to seal the Tigard win.
Shutting out West Linn on the road, in a physical, grueling battle, might have come as a surprise to people watching Friday’s game. But the result was something Lenzy and the Tigard defense knew was possible back in the film room earlier this week.
“Oh,” Lenzy said when asked if he could’ve imagined a shutout victory, “I knew it would happen.”
Scores and highlights
Other KOIN 6 Blitz highlights from Week 4