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North rules in the front lines

Commentary

The North Medford defensive line could have been arrested Friday night for cruel and unusual punishment.

David Faaeteete, Lorenzo Arenas, Ethan Barrus and Steve Johnson were so dominant in Friday night's 18th annual Black and Blue Game that South Medford couldn't run the ball and couldn't pass it.

Never has a team lived up to its nickname the way the Black Tornado did in its 60-17 victory at Spiegelberg Stadium.

— It whirled, it swirled and it twisted the Panthers into a mangled mess.

the time the category five storm had ended, South Medford had all of nine yards rushing and 154 yards in total offense, with 80 of those coming on a garbage-time touchdown pass from Jon Weaver to Ryan Neuenschwander with 6:19 remaining.

Weaver was sacked 11 times ' including nine in the first half when North Medford roared to a 47-7 lead ' and whacked down a dozen others after barely getting the ball off.

We wanted to come out and beat them down from the get-go, and that's what we did, said Faaeteete, the Tornado's 6-foot-3, 278-pound package of human steel who registered a team-high three sacks. We knew they wouldn't be able to run the ball and, once they got behind, they had to pass it on every down.

And then we just teed off (on Weaver).

Friday was payback time for Faaeteete and his fellow seniors, many of whom were on the field one year earlier when the Panthers notched a 45-41 victory that earned them the Southern Oregon Conference championship.

Many of the 8,000 fans who packed Spiegelberg Stadium Friday probably wanted a game like last season, or the one in 2001 that saw the Tornado squeeze out a 31-28 win.

Big plays, fourth-quarter fireworks and down-to-the-wire finishes add greatly to the drama of a city rivalry.

But the Tornado wanted no such scenario Friday night.

We've had this game marked on our calendar for a long time, North Medford tailback and outside linebacker Rob Folsom said. Their guys played hard, but physically they just didn't have the bodies to match up. We dominated them the whole game.

Folsom scored the first touchdown less than four minutes into the game on a 58-yard run over left tackle that he broke to the outside.

I got behind my 300-pound center (Johnny Vaigafa) and my two big guards (Faaeteete and 262-pound Lorenzo Arenas) and they blew me open a huge hole, Folsom said. The guys on the line deserve all the credit tonight. They really busted it.

Less than three minutes after Folsom's touchdown, quarterback Beau Hovland went 56 yards to pay dirt on an option play.

Following a short punt and a 25-yard return by Folsom, Hovland fired a 7-yard touchdown pass to Ben Running.

Then Hovland intercepted a pass that set up his 1-yard sneak, and it was 28-0 with nearly four minutes still remaining in the first quarter.

The Tornado added a safety and a 52-yard punt return for a touchdown by Sammy McHenry before the period ended.

Now it was 37-0.

Whew.

South Medford, meanwhile, failed to get a first down until its eighth possession of the first half when freshman wide receiver Kyle Singler made a great, leaping catch of a Weaver pass that covered 24 yards to the North Medford 3.

The Panthers eventually scored a touchdown on that possession, but needed 11 plays and three Tornado penalties to cover a drive that started on the North Medford 13.

Besides Faaeteete, North Medford linebackers Russ Vandell and Ryan Weisz recorded two sacks each and Barrus, Folsom, Vaigafa and linebacker Brian Jimenez added one each.

When we get excited and start swarming the field, not many teams can move the ball on us, said Vandell, who seemed to be all over the field Friday. Someone makes a big play and it just snowballs from there.

We had a lot of anger built up tonight. Our guys really wanted to win this game.

The only positive for the Panthers was that the game only counts as one loss ' their first in the SOC with games remaining against Grants Pass, Eagle Point, Ashland and Roseburg.

We've just got to put this one behind us and move on, said Weaver, who managed to crack a smile after the game. It's not the end of the world.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail