By René Ferrán
Now, we focus specifically on the Week 1 schedule. Here is an inside look at the top high school football games across the state of Oregon this week (March 4-6).
Photo by Rockne Andrew Roll: Gavin Haines and West Linn vs. Tualatin in 2019
Top Oregon HS football games — Week 1
Yamhill-Carlton at Knappa, 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Finally, football is back! The 2021 spring season officially kicks off with this lone Thursday matchup featuring two 2019 playoff teams.
Jesuit vs. Central Catholic, Hillsboro Stadium, 7 p.m. Friday
It will be a Holy War unlike any other in the 61-year history of the series. No fans will be allowed in the stands to keep the facility within the 150-person limit set by Oregon Health Authority guidelines. The Crusaders are the last team to defeat the Rams, winning 42-26 in Week 5 last season before Central Catholic ran the table the rest of the way en route to the state title.
West Linn at Tualatin, 7 p.m. Friday
Two Three Rivers League powers square off to start the season. West Linn would have been one of the favorites to win a state title during a “regular” season, while Tualatin is coming off its first quarterfinal appearance since 2010. The Lions have won all six meetings since the Timberwolves joined the TRL in 2014 and are 7-1 all-time in the series.
Oregon City at Lakeridge, 7 p.m. Friday
The game will be played with heavy hearts after the suicide of 15-year-old Lakeridge player Ezekiel Crowder on Feb. 22. The Pioneers shared a video with the Pacers this week that was posted on the Lakeridge Football Twitter feed expressing their support for their Week 1 opponent during this difficult time.
Sherwood at Newberg, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Sherwood has won all six meetings since moving up to 6A in 2014, but this might be Newberg’s best team in recent history, and this matchup could turn into a barnburner.
Henley at Mazama, 7 p.m. Friday
Can their season-opening matchup come close to matching the drama of their 2019 regular-season finale, which the Vikings won 14-10 after they scored on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1-yard line in the final minute?
Kennedy at Santiam Christian, 7 p.m. Friday
A fantastic matchup between the Trojans, who won the 2018 Class 2A state title and reached the 2019 final, and the reigning Class 3A champion Eagles. Both teams return multiple all-state players, meaning there shouldn’t be much drop in quality.
Lincoln vs. Jefferson, Wilson HS, 12:30 p.m. Saturday
An afternoon delight featuring two of the city’s top running backs — Lincoln’s Charles Willmott and Jefferson’s Damir Collins — in the latest edition of the 111-year-old series. The Democrats also feature two of the state’s top junior recruits in defensive back Trejon Williams and linebacker Lamar Washington.
Grant at Barlow, 4 p.m. Saturday
The Bruins put in yeoman work following the announcement that the Gresham-Barlow School District had opted into the full-contact season to complete the mandatory in-pad practices to get a Week 1 game. The 2019 semifinalists open against the reigning PIL champion Generals, who return all-league first-teamers at 10 positions.
Clackamas at Canby, 7 p.m. Saturday
The Cavaliers are looking to rebound from an “off” season in 2019, when they finished below .500 for the first time since 2012, against a Cougars team that hinted at a renaissance by winning back-to-back games to close the 2019 season and put an emphatic end to a 22-game losing streak.