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Streaking Panthers take on Lakers

South Medford, off to a 2-0 start, plays host to Lomax-led Lake Oswego

Lake Oswego has yet to win a Class 4A state football championship under 13th-year coach Steve Coury. But the Lakers sure know how to come close.

The Portland-area school has posted 10 or more victories each of the past four seasons, with one trip to the Class 4A state title game, one journey to the state semifinals and another to the state quarterfinals.

The Lakers are off and running again in 2004, thanks to a 19-0 season-opening victory over Grants Pass last week.

Tonight at Spiegelberg Stadium, the eighth-ranked Lakers will take on second-ranked South Medford in what should be a dandy nonconference matchup.

— We wanted some good competition before we started play in our league, and we're certainly going to get some Friday, says Coury, a standout wide receiver at Oregon State during the early 1980s. Our kids are looking forward to coming down there and playing South Medford.

Lake Oswego defeated then No. 1-ranked North Medford 21-14 in week three last season at Spiegelberg Stadium, took over the No. — spot and held it all the way into mid-November before losing to eventual state champion Tigard in the quarterfinals.

The North Medford-Lake Oswego game had a playofflike atmosphere; tonight's contest should be more of the same.

The Panthers (2-0) have been the state's surprise team this fall after upsetting defending state champion Tigard, 24-21, in their opening game and following with a 27-14 victory over West Linn, which was ranked 10th in the preseason.

South Medford coach Bill Singler thinks Lake Oswego could be the Panthers' biggest test yet.

They've got some excellent players, and they're very well-coached, Singler says.

Leading the Lake Oswego offense is quarterback Nick Lomax, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound senior whose father, Neil, was a standout quarterback at Portland State University and with the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL.

Nick Lomax finally gets his chance at the limelight this fall after playing behind three-year starter Mike Stutes. Lomax made his varsity debut against Grants Pass, completing 13 of 27 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown.

He's one of those kids who took a while to grow into his height and get coordinated, says Coury of Lomax. He's been wearing size 16 shoes for four years.

His dad was the same way.

Nick Lomax missed a few throws last Friday and was a little rough around the edges ' something one might expect in one's first varsity start.

His upside is great ' we think he's going to a very good quarterback before he's done, Coury says. I'm very encouraged by what I saw last Friday.

The Lakers have been a running team during their ascent to elite-team status, producing first-team, all-state tailbacks Mark Maher and Billy Anderson. They've got another fine back this season in senior Andrew Seidman, who ran for 90 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over Grants Pass.

As for their receiving threats, Ryan Hilliard, a 6-3, 190-pound senior, is among the best in the state.

We're still trying to figure out what we're going to do offensively, Coury says. We need to take advantage of that big, strong arm at quarterback, but we're not going to abandon the run.

The strength of the Lakers right now might be their defense, which held Grants Pass to just 59 yards rushing and 36 yards passing last week. End Kyle Schollander, nose guard Sydney Barag, cornerback Dallas Hogensen and linebackers Kevin Swan, Travis Buskuhl, Kevin Maher and Gabe Miller lead the way.

South Medford, however, presents the Lakers with some new challenges. What makes the Panthers difficult to defend is that they have talented skill position players across the board.

Senior Jon Weaver has emerged as one of the better quarterbacks in the state, completing 64 percent of his passes for 288 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in the Panthers' first two games.

Tight end Kyle Singler, the Panthers' 6-7, 200-pound super soph, ranks second in the SOC in receiving with 10 catches for 129 yards and two TDs.

Senior wideout Dan Chancler has yet to get untracked, but his speed makes him a home run threat. Senior Seth Hernandez, who missed last week's game for disciplinary reasons, is another pass-catching threat on the outside, as is junior Tony Desimone.

Handling the running chores are junior Ryan Odell, the SOC's second-leading rusher with 99 yards, and Logan Boyd, who broke off a 65-yard touchdown burst last Friday.

Their quarterback (Weaver) really impresses me with the way he can run around and make plays, Coury says. And Kyle (Singler) is just a phenomenal player. He's the kind of kid who can take over a game.

Defensively, they don't really dominate, but they're scrappy and they fly to the ball.

I don't know how people ranked South Medford early on, but they're good. We know we're going to have our hands full.

EXTRA POINTS ' Coury and Ed Singler, Kyle Singler's father, were teammates and roommates at Oregon State. Ed Singler played quarterback for the Beavers ... Kyle Schollander, who stands 6-1 and weighs 240, is the son of former Olympian Don Schollander, who won four gold medals and set three world records in swimming at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. I think the reason Kyle never got into swimming was because he didn't want to put on the tights, Coury says.

South Medford?s Logan Boyd, who had a 65-yard touchdown run in last week?s win over West Linn, leads the Panthers against Lake Oswego tonight at Spiegelberg Stadium.