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West Linn tackles North Medford in opener

After one-week delay, Black Tornado struggles to combat No. 2 Lions

North Medford accomplished something Jesuit couldn’t in Week 1 against West Linn, but that wasn’t enough in the Black Tornado’s season opener played at Wilsonville High Friday night.

Coming off a 17-3 win over the Crusaders in a top-5 showdown, the host Lions built a 28-0 lead before allowing their first touchdown of the season with 4:49 to go in the second quarter.

Unfortunately for North Medford, which had its season opener canceled last week due to a COVID outbreak at Del Norte High, that kind of scoring could not be replicated enough Friday as second-ranked West Linn rolled to a 49-7 victory.

The game marked the head coaching debut at North Medford for Nathan Chin, and certainly was a tall task given the Lions’ pedigree under head coach Chris Miller.

“It’s tough in the situation we were in,” said Chin, whose team has primarily practiced in its gymnasium due to poor air quality in the Rogue Valley, “but you’ve still got to come out and prepare and be prepared to play ball. They were just better than us tonight.”

West Linn (2-0) wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, with senior quarterback Chase Harmon guiding his team 65 yards on its opening drive, capped by a 38-yard scoring strike to senior Barret Brundage.

After holding North Medford (0-1) to a three-and-out on its opening drive, Harmon again got in rhythm and finished off a 45-yard scoring drive with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Mark Hamper.

Brandon Dominguez nearly gave the Black Tornado a boost minutes later on defense but a potential pick-six interception just escaped his grasp.

Given a second chance, West Linn continued to methodically chip its way downfield until junior Koffi Kouame was able to scoot in from 12 yards to build a 21-0 advantage early in the second quarter.

Harmon later found Hamper again as he was forced to scramble for an 18-yard TD that made it 28-0 with 6:28 to go in the first half.

Black Tornado senior quarterback Mason Warren finally got his team moving with a 14-yard keeper, and then Ty Pugliano kept that momentum up when he took a screen pass 47 yards to the West Linn 4-yard line. After being pushed back on his ensuing run, Pugliano again got the call, found a seam up the middle and then made a nice burst as he leaned into the end zone for North Medford’s first TD of the season — and the first allowed by West Linn.

After a nice open-field tackle by Atreaue Roe forced West Linn to punt on its ensuing possession, Warren again got North going with a 30-yard completion to senior Bryce Dyer but the drive stalled after a pair of incompletions from the West Linn 19 to essentially end the first half.

“I felt it, too,” Chin said of momentum building on the North sideline. “I thought we could be able to tag onto it and be able to keep on rolling with it (after Pugliano’s touchdown), we just weren’t able to snag onto the momentum in a full scale.”

Harmon added a 35-yard scoring pass to Brundage in the third quarter, and then Hamper got the ball back for the Lions on an interception. West Linn then used some trickery for its next TD, with Harmon pitching the ball back to a receiver, who in turn fired the ball for a 30-yard score to Zeke Viuhkola.

The Black Tornado was unable to get much going offensively after that as the Lions were able to pin their ears back and pressure Warren and company.

Hamper later scored on a 69-yard pass to make it 49-7.

“It’s only up from here,” said Chin, whose team hosts Sherwood next Friday (weather permitting). “We just need to clean some things up and play a little more assignment, sound ball and kind of get some physicality back that I think our group does have. I just don’t think our group matched that tonight and that’s one of those challenges you have when you’re practicing in a gym.”

North Medford0700—7

West Linn1414147—49

WL — Brundage 38 pass from Harmon (Hurych kick)

WL — Hamper 34 pass from Harmon (Hurych kick)

WL — K. Kouame 12 run (Hurych kick)

WL — Hamper 18 pass from Harmon (Hurych kick)

NM — T. Pugliano 5 run (Dominguez kick)

WL — Brundage 35 pass from Harmon (Hurych kick)

WL — Viuhkola 30 pass (Hurych kick)

WL — Hamper 69 pass from Harmon (Hurych kick)

Have a story idea? Reach sports editor Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Ty Pugliano