When North Salem started the season, they didn’t know what to expect.
They returned talent and experience from a Class 5A state playoff team last season, but now the Vikings were back at 6A.
“Our coaching staff is just trying to give our kids the most positive experience and get them to play as well as they can,” North Salem head football coach Jeff Flood said. “And this is the culmination of that effort.”
By any measure, this season has been a success for the Vikings, who face Westview at 11 a.m. Friday in the Columbia Cup final at Hillsboro Stadium.
That showdown is the Statesman Journal’s final Game of the Week this season.
The Vikings are 8-4, including 3-0 in the postseason.
North Salem went 5-4 in the regular season, with wins against Roosevelt, David Douglas, Roseburg, McNary and West Salem. Their losses were to North Medford, Grants Pass, Sprague and South Salem.
The Vikings lost 33-14 to the Saxons on Oct. 28 in the final game of the season.
But even in defeat, North Salem gained confidence heading into the postseason.
“When we were losing, we were struggling in the second half of games. I thought we played South Salem really tough for three quarters, then things got away,” Flood said. “But I thought our kids played really well, and that’s a good football team. Building on that, and the win against West Salem in Week 8 gave our kids confidence.”
In the postseason, the Vikings have wins at Newberg (34-14), at Jefferson (42-8) and against Liberty (39-21) at neutral site Wilsonville.
Defense key to Vikings’ success
Defense has been key for North Salem, which is allowing an average of 13.5 points per game.
The Vikings have held their opponents to fewer than 10 points six times this season.
“Our defense has kept us in games when we’ve struggled offensively,” Flood said. “I think (defensive coordinator) Caleb (Singleton) has done an outstanding job, not only on in-game decisions that he makes, but putting kids in the right positions so that they are utilizing their strengths.”
Westview has had almost two separate seasons this year.
The Wildcats started the season 1-5. Since then, they’ve won six games in a row.
Westview’s offense is driven by a big offensive line and three-star running back Jordan Fisher, who has five college offers, according to 247Sports.com. They are averaging 32.4 points per game.
“Their running back is really good. He’s a highlight reel every game,” Flood said. “And they have seven or eight linemen who are bigger than most of ours. We’ve got our hands full, but that’s what playoff football is all about.”
North Salem will be without senior running back Josiah Davis, who was injured last week.
One of the players filling the void in the Vikings’ running game will be junior Demari Thompson, who won state titles last spring in the 100 and 200 meters.
“With Jojo out, it gives our other guys an opportunity to step up and be great,” North Salem junior quarterback TC Manumaleuna said. “On offense, we have to put up points and leave everything on the field. There is no tomorrow.”
North Salem is averaging 27.8 points per game. Westview is allowing 20.4 points per game.
The Columbia Cup tournament is new this season, created when the OSAA decided to split the 6A postseason into two brackets.
“Winning the Columbia Cup would mean a lot for our team, our Viking family, our community, Jojo, and for coach Flood too,” Manumaleuna said. “Honestly, to be the winners of the first-ever Columbia Cup would be awesome, and I know we can do it.”
NORTH SALEM 2022 SCHEDULE/RESULTS
- Sept. 1: at Roosevelt, W 35-3
- Sept. 9: at David Douglas, W 46-0
- Sept. 16: vs. Roseburg, W 26-0
- Sept. 23: at North Medford, L 27-13
- Sept. 30: at McNary, W 21-7
- Oct. 7: vs. Grants Pass, L 18-14
- Oct. 13: at Sprague, L 26-19
- Oct. 22: vs. West Salem, W 31-6
- Oct. 28: vs. South Salem, L 33-14
- Nov. 4: at Newberg, W 34-14
- Nov. 11: at Jefferson, W 42-8
- Nov. 18: vs. Liberty (at Wilsonville), W 39-21
- Nov. 25: vs. Westview (at Hillsboro Stadium), 11 a.m.
- Sept. 2: vs. Clackamas, W 31-28
- Sept. 9: at Wilsonville, L 49-39
- Sept. 16: at Summit, L 28-12
- Sept. 23: at Tualatin, L 36-15
- Sept. 30: vs. Mountainside, L 31-30
- Oct. 7: vs. Jesuit, L 52-18
- Oct. 14: at Aloha, W 54-0
- Oct. 21: vs. Beaverton, W 40-0
- Oct. 28: at Sunset, W 37-7
- Nov. 4: vs. Century, W 37-0
- Nov. 11: vs. Sprague, W 41-0
- Nov. 18: vs. Lakeridge (at Hillsboro Stadium), W 35-14
- Nov. 25: vs. North Salem (at Hillsboro Stadium), 11 a.m.
Kennedy goes for 3A state championship
The Trojans are back in the state championship game for the fourth season in a row, not counting the 2020-21 school year when there was no postseason due to the pandemic.
Kennedy will face Cascade Christian at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Cottage Grove in the OSAA Class 3A state championship game.
This is the Trojans’ first season at 3A, having opted to remain in 11-player football instead of playing 9-player at the 2A level.
The Trojans won the 2A state title in 2018, then finished as runner-up in 2019 and last season.
Kennedy enters the game with a 12-0 record, and Cascade Christian also is 12-0.
KENNEDY 2022 SCHEDULE/RESULTS
- Sept. 2: vs. Stanfield, W 52-8
- Sept. 9: at Siuslaw, W 24-0
- Sept. 16: vs. Jefferson, W 64-0
- Sept. 23: at Dayton, W 21-0
- Sept. 29: vs. Scio, W 47-8
- Oct. 7: vs. Salem Academy, W 56-7
- Oct. 14: at Amity, W 42-0
- Oct. 21: at Newport, W forfeit
- Oct. 28: vs. Santiam Christian, W 24-20
- Nov. 4: vs. Lakeview (Stayton), W 43-0
- Nov. 12: vs. Vale (Silverton), W 14-12
- Nov. 19: vs. Banks (Hillsboro Stadium), W 15-7
- Nov. 26: vs. Cascade Christian (Cottage Grove), 4:30 p.m.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN SCHEDULE/RESULTS
- Sept. 2: at Douglas, W 53-6
- Sept. 9: vs. Sutherlin, W 54-6
- Sept. 16: at Brookings-Harbor, W 56-0
- Sept. 23: vs. Coquille, W 48-0
- Sept. 30: at North Valley, W 49-10
- Oct. 7: vs. Phoenix, W 82-0
- Oct. 14: at Lakeview, W 35-0
- Oct. 21: at St. Mary’s, W 56-13
- Oct. 28: vs. South Umpqua, W 35-6
- Nov. 4: vs. Ontario, W 52-20
- Nov. 11: vs. La Pine, W 49-6
- Nov. 19: vs. Dayton (Cottage Grove), W 42-20
- Nov. 26: vs. Kennedy (Cottage Grove), 4:30 p.m.
St. Paul goes for 1A state championship
The Buckaroos are in the state championship game for the sixth time under head coach Tony Smith.
St. Paul faces Lost River at 1 p.m. Saturday at Cottage Grove in the OSAA Class 1A 8-player state championship game.
The Buckaroos won state titles under Smith in 2009 and 2010, and they were the state runner-up in 2012, 2018 and 2019.
St. Paul enters the title game with a 10-0 record, and Lost River is 10-1.
The Buckaroos beat Lost River 46-32 on Sept. 17. The Raiders have won eight games in a row since that loss.
ST. PAUL 2022 SCHEDULE/RESULTS
- Sept. 1: at Dufur, W 66-6
- Sept. 9: at Santiam, W 45-6
- Sept. 17: vs. Lost River, W 46-32
- Sept. 22: vs. Cove, W 57-22
- Sept. 30: at Myrtle Point, W 42-14
- Oct. 7: vs. Alsea, W 72-0
- Oct. 13: at Mohawk, W 64-20
- Oct. 28: vs. Perrydale, W 52-0
- Nov. 11: vs. Perrydale (McMinnville), W 62-6
- Nov. 19: vs. Myrtle Point (Cottage Grove). W 46-22
- Nov. 26: vs. Lost River (Cottage Grove), 1 p.m.
LOST RIVER 2022 SCHEDULE/RESULTS
- Sept. 2: at Adrian, W 44-28
- Sept. 9: vs. Myrtle Point, W 46-20
- Sept. 17: at St. Paul, L 46-32
- Sept. 23: vs. Heppner, W 31-6
- Sept. 30: at Bonanza, W 51-0
- Oct. 7: at Camas Valley, W 54-0
- Oct. 14: vs. Chiloquin, W 60-6
- Oct. 21: vs. Crosspoint Christian, W 66-6
- Oct. 28: at Prospect Charter, W 55-6
- Nov. 12: vs. Adrian, W 44-8
- Nov. 19: vs. Powder Valley (Caldera), W 40-14
- Nov. 26: vs. St. Paul (Cottage Grove), 1 p.m.
Class 6A — championship bracket
West Linn vs. Sheldon, 3 p.m. Friday (Hillsboro Stadium)
Class 6A — Columbia Cup
North Salem vs Westview, 11 a.m. Friday (Hillsboro Stadium)
Wilsonville vs. Summit, 7 p.m. Friday (Hillsboro Stadium)
Tillamook vs. Estacada, 4:30 p.m. Saturday (Hillsboro Stadium)
Kennedy vs. Cascade Christian, 4:30 p.m. Saturday (Cottage Grove)
Oakland vs. Weston-McEwen, 1 p.m. Saturday (Hillsboro Stadium)
Class 1A (8-player)
St. Paul vs. Lost River, 1 p.m. Saturday (Cottage Grove)