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South, North twin bill set for Friday

It’s been 12 years since the last football doubleheader for South Medford and North Medford at Spiegelberg Stadium, but that will be the setup again Friday for the opening of the Class 6A state playoffs.

South Medford (6-3) is set to play host to Lake Oswego (5-4) at 5 p.m. Friday, with North Medford (7-2) hosting Wilson (5-4) at around 7:30.

In 2002, the Southern Oregon Conference-champion Panthers won a 5 p.m. tilt with Lincoln, 13-7, before the SOC runner-up Black Tornado turned back Churchill, 51-38, at 7:45.

Season ticket holders for South Medford and North Medford high schools have until 4 p.m. Wednesday to purchase their usual tickets. After that, any unclaimed seats go up for sale to the general public on Thursday.

Reserved seat ticket prices are $8, with general admission set at $6 and student tickets at $4 for the state playoffs.

Because of the unique doubleheader at Spiegelberg, tickets are good for both games for those interested in staying. The only caveat is those who purchased reserve seats for the South Medford game or North Medford game are guaranteed their seats for their respective games. That means if you have reserved seats for the Panthers game and someone shows up with tickets for the same reserved seats for the Black Tornado game (or vice versa), you’ll simply need to find another seat in the general admission area or wherever there are unclaimed seats.

For those looking to expedite the process, reserved and general admission tickets can be purchased online at southmedford.universitytickets.com or northmedford.universitytickets.com.

“We encourage people to do it with the online ticket option,” said South Medford athletic director Dennis Murphy. “That makes it easier for everyone.”

In that 2002 season, North Medford went on to lose in the second round at Hermiston, 16-13, while South Medford beat Willamette, 45-38, before falling to Canby, 47-44, in the state quarterfinals.

MORE THROWBACK: In going back over that last playoff doubleheader in 2002, it reminded me of what a huge senior season Boomer Marshall had at quarterback for South Medford.

In maybe the most thrilling Black and Blue Game in series history, Marshall passed for 452 yards in a 45-41 win over North Medford, then carried his hot hand into the playoffs. He completed 32 of 47 passes for 464 yards and six touchdowns in the double-overtime playoff win over Willamette, then passed for the fourth-highest yardage in Oregon history when he completed 33 of 46 passes for five TDs and 535 yards against Canby.

Marshall completed his senior season with 3,446 passing yards and 36 touchdowns.

For the record, Waldport’s T.J. Fisher passed for 548 yards (22-for-43 for four TDs) in 2012 during a 48-0 win over Culver in 2A action to set the standard. Taylor Bostwick of West Salem held the previous high of 544 yards (34-for-55) set in a 60-26 loss to McKay in 2003.

CRATER GIRLS SOCCER: Contrary to what was reported in Sunday’s Mail Tribune, the Crater girls soccer team advanced to the state playoffs for the first time in four years with Saturday’s 3-2 win at Lebanon.

Still, any chance at the state playoffs is a big step for a Crater program that had a combined four wins from 2011-13 but will open today’s Class 5A playoffs at top-seeded Putnam (10-2-2) with five wins in 14 contests and a new bounce in its stride.

“Honestly we have nothing to lose,” said second-year coach Rianna Lee. “I’m so proud of them and it wasn’t luck, they’ve worked hard for it. At this point, it’s just great to see how they’ve become more soccer players instead of people who just like the sport. They’re more developed now and have the skills to win against the top teams.”

A return to the 5A level certainly hasn’t hurt the Comets, who were outscored 62-3 in 2012 and 85-11 last year as part of the 6A Southern Oregon Hybrid, but it’s not the main difference. Lee said her players better understand their roles and positional goals for the season, and they dedicated much of their time since January to training hard for this season.

Entering today’s contest, Crater has scored 20 goals against 42 allowed — led by 10 goals from junior Sydney Beck. It was Beck’s hat trick that allowed the Comets to score their first play-in win since 2010, when Crater edged McMinnville 2-0, and only the second in program history.

In fact, Crater has never won an actual state playoff game, regardless of league classification, despite several promising seasons under the guidance of former head coach Ed Lindbloom.

“I’m hoping we make history (today),” added Lee. “I know (Putnam’s) No. 1 but on any given day it’s anybody’s game. That’s what’s neat about the game of soccer, anybody can win.”

The Comets definitely have quality game experience given how the state bracket shapes up. Crater finished sixth out of seven teams in the Midwestern League, which automatically qualified the top two teams to the state playoffs. Teams that finished Nos. 3-6 were put into a play-in bracket and, amazingly, all of them won, leaving the MWL to have a team in six of the eight opening-round games today.

“We all advanced so that just tells us even more that we are in a tough division and that we did earn this spot,” said Lee. “I think (every team) in the Midwestern League is really good and I think it prepared us for the competitive level at state. I’m rooting for somebody in the Midwestern League to win it all.”

Even more so if that means her Comets, who were 29th out of 33 teams in the 5A power rankings, can continue to shock the state.

“It’s cool to see the girls feisty and hungry and wanting to win and realizing the feeling of winning and what it takes, which is the biggest thing,” she said. “We’ve been training for this since January, so they’re ecstatic to get to this point.”

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry