Best friends Gavin Jackson of Central Catholic, Malik Ross of Tualatin both can be proud of their performance in 6A football final

Ross gained a game-high 175 yards on 25 carries. Jackson made eight tackles — and his Rams got the win.

By Dan Brood

Photo: Malik Ross and Gavin Jackson as middle-school all-star teammates (courtesy of Andre Jackson)

Gavin Jackson and Malik Ross aren’t teammates.

They technically aren’t brothers.

But they spent a lot of time growing up together, with football being a focal point, and they’re about as close of friends as could be.

On Saturday, however, they found themselves on different sidelines, and staring at each other across the line of scrimmage.

Jackson, a Central Catholic senior linebacker, and Ross, a Tualatin senior running back/defensive back, and their respective teammates met Saturday in the Class 6A football state championship game, which was held under rainy conditions at Hillsboro Stadium.

“It’s just another football game. It’s two good teams battling against each other,” Ross said after the contest. “The only thing is, the winner gets a trophy. It’s just a regular game, with two friends going at it.”

As much as Ross might have wanted to downplay the matchup between friends, both Jackson and Ross seemed to be plenty motivated, and they both seemed to have plenty to be proud of after the game.

“It was definitely motivation on the field,” Jackson said of the matchup between friends.

Ross had a spectacular game running the ball for Tualatin. He gained a game-high 175 yards on 25 carries and scored on a 15-yard run with 4 minutes and 31 seconds left in the second quarter.

Jackson might very well get to claim the most important bragging rights, as his Central Catholic squad scored a 44-14 win over the Timberwolves, giving the Rams their second consecutive state championship.

“This was fun. It was crazy,” Jackson said during the Central Catholic victory celebration.

Jackson did his part for the Rams’ impressive defensive performance in the win. He was in on eight total tackles (three solo tackles, five assists), tying him for the team lead, and he forced a fumble that sophomore Timmy Mitchell returned 27 yards for a touchdown, giving Central Catholic a 21-7 lead at that point.

Three times in the game, Jackson was involved in tackles on Ross, including a solo tackle following a 3-yard gain by Ross early in the second quarter.

“It was fun,” Jackson said. “It got competitive at some points, but it was fun.”

“He’s tough,” Ross said of Jackson. “He’s a great defensive player, and I have to work hard to get by him. He gives his all every play, and I have to give my all every play. We all have to give our all every play — that makes us both play great.”

Read more about the Jackson/Ross friendship here:

Best Friends Bowl: Longtime pals Gavin Jackson of Central Catholic and Malik Ross of Tualatin end their prep careers by going head-to-head for ultimate bragging rights

More game coverage:

‘This team has just been something special.’ Central Catholic leaves no doubt in 6A title-clinching rout of Tualatin

‘I’m going to be friends with these dudes for the rest of my life.’ Tualatin lost a game, but Timberwolves will keep their brotherhood forever

Best defense in Central Catholic history? That unit ‘came out like dogs,’ states its case in dominant win over Tualatin in 6A final

‘I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine.’ Central Catholic offense plays for each other in 2nd half of title tilt, and that approach carries Rams to another state title

A.J. Noland carries on family sports tradition at Tualatin: ‘The Tualatin community means everything to us’

Preview links:

Tale of the tape: Who has the edge between Central Catholic and Tualatin in the Oregon 6A football final?

Best Friends Bowl: Longtime pals Gavin Jackson of Central Catholic and Malik Ross of Tualatin end their prep careers by going head-to-head for ultimate bragging rights

Watch: Central Catholic coach Steve Pyne discusses Rams’ season, upcoming title game with Tualatin

Watch: Tualatin coach Dan Lever discusses Timberwolves’ season, upcoming title game with Central Catholic

Who will win the 6A football final between Central Catholic and Tualatin? Our predictions …

More on Tualatin:

Is Tualatin in store for the best football season in school history? ‘The sky’s the limit’

Tualatin survives epic battle with 5A Silverton — and learns a valuable lesson: ‘When we go 80 percent in practice … it matters’

‘You hold your breath every time he touches the ball.’ Malik ‘Magic’ Ross shines in all 3 phases for top-ranked Tualatin football team

‘There’s nothing we can’t do.’ Tualatin football earns signature victory with blowout of longtime nemesis West Linn

For Cole Prusia and Tualatin, Saturday’s rout of West Linn started with a crushing defeat 7 months earlier

‘Electric, electric, electric.’ Malik Ross scores 5 of his school-record 6 TDs in 2nd quarter as Tualatin leaves Westview in the dust

Tualatin defense silences West Linn again; Timberwolves 1 win from 1st state title in program history

‘They’re the beating heart of the team.’ Tualatin has no shortage of stars, but it’s the offensive line that makes the offense go

More on Central Catholic:

Central Catholic again the favorite in 6A Oregon football? Attitude, work ethic will tell the story for deep, talented Rams

‘It was Stryder’s night tonight.’ In surprisingly sloppy game between Oregon and Washington champions, Stryder Todd-Fields’ big plays lift Central Catholic over Camas

Clackamas, Central Catholic square off in bid for Mt. Hood summit

No. 1 Central Catholic 38, No. 5 Clackamas 20: Riley Williams, Rams erase any doubts as national audience watches Mt. Hood title bout

Impending Oregon Ducks career far from Emar’rion Winston’s mind as he prepares to lead Central Catholic defense in Holy War 6A semifinal

Central Catholic fights off Jesuit in Holy War semifinal, will face Tualatin for shot at 2nd consecutive 6A title

Central Catholic calls on ‘Independent Contractors’ to help secure victory against Jesuit and ‘The Franchise’

From a 5-foot-2, 100-pound JV2 soccer player to the 6A football final — it’s been quite a journey for Central Catholic’s Asher Wajskol

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