The Lakers struggle occasionally, but win easily in season opener.
Let’s be honest.
There were some reasons for concern in the Lake Oswego football team’s 20-8 season-opening win over Barlow at Lake Oswego High School on Thursday, Sept. 1.
The Lakers fumbled the ball each of the first two times they touched it. They came away empty on three trips deep into the Bruins’ red zone. They dropped two likely touchdown passes and saw Barlow outrush them by more than 100 yards.
As troubling as all that might be, Lake Oswego also racked up a 20-0 lead early in the third quarter, didn’t allow the Bruins to reach the scoreboard until just 23 seconds remained in the game and were never really threatened.
“We just have a young team, with some unproven players, but good players,” said Lake Oswego senior running back Calvin Macy, who rushed 13 times for 116 yards in the win. “I think if we can finish (our drives), we’re gonna be a much better team and I think we’re gonna be hard to compete with.”
“I think one of the big things on offense is, we just need capitalize,” said junior quarterback Max Brauner, who went 16 of 29 passing for 198 yards and two touchdowns in his first varsity game. “When we march 80 yards downfield … we’ve just got to capitalize.”
“Those growing pains, they’re gonna be there,” said senior wide receiver Henry Smith, who caught four passes for 75 yards, including two touchdowns. “But once we get through that, we’re gonna be pretty good. I’m really happy that we walked out with the ‘W.’”
With the win, Lake Oswego improved to 1-0 overall for the 2022 season, while Barlow fell to 0-1 overall. The Bruins were led junior running back Isaiah Eivers’ 141 yards on 15 carries, and another 80 rushing yards on 10 carries by junior quarterback Jett Fay.
Next up, Lake Oswego will play West Salem at West Salem High School at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9. The Titans open their 2022 season with a non-league road game on Friday, Sept. 2, at Sherwood High School.
While the Lakers had their share of misfires on Thursday, they took the game’s opening possession and marched 81 yards in 11 plays to score and grab a lead they would never relinquish. Brauner went 6 for 6 passing on the drive for 71 yards, capping the march when he hit Smith over the middle and Smith spun away from the Barlow defense to score from 14 yards out with 6 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“We’ve been training all summer and it’s just been great getting a game under our belts and actually getting to play live, instead of just hitting each other,” said senior center Grant Onaitis, who helped his team amass 343 yards in total offense. “We really improved tonight. … We get better every week.”
Neither team scored over the game’s next five possessions, with the Lakers forcing three straight Barlow punts and the Bruins stopping LO twice on fourth down. On their third straight stop, the Lakers got a sack of Fay from sophomore Lusiano Lopez, junior Hunter Kavanaugh and junior Tobia Tagliabue.
The Lakers started their ensuing possession near midfield and needed just two plays to score from there, with Macy ripping off 29 yards on first down, and on the next play, Brauner connecting again with Smith for a 25-yard score and a 13-0 lead with 4:56 to go in the half.
“It was Max Brauner’s first time ever playing in a varsity game and we won,” Smith said. “So that’s a ‘W’ for me. I’m excited to keep it going.”
As they had in the first half, the Lakers started strong again in the second half, but this time it was the defense that came through. With Lake Oswego still leading just 13-0 at the start of the second half, Barlow junior quarterback Karter Wilcox got pressured by the Laker defense and fumbled the ball away near his team’s 10-yard line. Lake Oswego senior linebacker Caleb Cagnoni scooped the ball up on the run and took it back 9 yards to score and boost his team’s lead to a commanding 20-0 margin.
While neither team would score again until just 23 seconds remained on the game clock, there was still plenty of excitement to be had. First, the Lakers stopped a Bruin offensive series at the 6-yard line. Next, LO junior Conor Croteau recovered a fumble by Barlow’s Mason Holland near midfield.
Each team came up with big stops in the fourth quarter — the Lakers had a first-and-goal from the Bruins’ 8-yard line at the start of the fourth quarter and failed to score, while the Bruins flamed out after driving into the red zone on the ensuing series — before Barlow finally broke through.
In the game’s final four minutes, the Bruins drove 65 yards for their lone score, with Eivers carrying five times for 39 yards, including a 7-yard TD run with 23 seconds left to play. Senior Boaz Amadio added the conversion run for the final 20-8 margin.
“We’ve just got to calm ourselves down and those big plays, we’ve got to capitalize when we’re down there,” Brauner said.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re gonna play so much better — we’ve just got to put in that work during the practice,” Smith said. “We’ve got a young team, we’ve got a lot of (room for) growth, but we’re surrounded by the best coaches — the best coaching staff, the best lifting coach, everyone around us puts us in the best position to succeed. And that’s why we’re gonna win games this year.”
For Lake Oswego, junior Colin Best added two carries for 32 yards and three catches for another 48 yards. For Barlow, Holland made 6 catches for 76 yards.
You can see all the photos from the game here.
You can see a complete slideshow from this game by clicking here.
You can see the Play of the Day from this game here.
You can see the Photo of the Day from this game here.