When North Salem rejoined Class 6A this season, they wanted to show they are competitive at the state’s highest level of football.
They’ve done that, and then some.
The Vikings are 7-4 this season and will face Liberty in the inaugural 6A Columbia Cup semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday at Wilsonville in the Statesman Journal Game of the Week.
“This season has been up and down for us, and we lost some games that were head scratchers,” North Salem junior quarterback TC Manumaleuna said. “We all felt like we were better than that. I don’t think we ever felt like we hit our stride until now.”
North Salem is averaging 26.8 points per game this season, including 38.0 points per game in two postseason games.
But the key this season has been on defense, where the Vikings are holding opponents to 12.9 points per game, including 11 per game in the postseason.
“I think the key to our success is trusting each other to make plays and staying disciplined. Our d-line has been sound all season, putting pressure on the quarterback and staying in our gaps so our linebacker can make plays,” North Salem sophomore defensive and offensive lineman Enrike Aguilar said. “The secondary has been amazing forcing turnovers and stopping big plays. Overall, I think our success boils down to working as a unit and trusting that everyone on the field can make a play.”
Liberty is 7-4 this season as well, and they are scoring 27.1 points per game. They are holding opponents to 21.8 points per game.
This is the first season the OSAA split the Class 6A postseason into two brackets — the top 1-16 played in the championship bracket, and 17-32 played in the Columbia Cup bracket.
The Vikings are two wins from capturing the first-ever Columbia Cup.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” Manumaleuna said. “We came together as a team and asked everyone to give it their all so that we don’t have any regrets on this season. I don’t think any of us doubted that we can play in 6A and we matched our win total from last year. We want to keep the good times rolling.”
Kennedy faces Banks in 3A semifinals
The Trojans beat Vale 14-12 Saturday in the OSAA Class 3A state quarterfinals.
No. 1 Kennedy now moves on to face No. 4 Banks on Saturday in the state semifinals.
Banks beat Santiam Christian 10-7 in the quarterfinals.
The Trojans are 11-0 this season, as is Banks.
Dayton faces Cascade Christian in 3A semifinals
The Pirates beat South Umpqua 53-13 in the OSAA Class 3A state quarterfinals.
No. 6 Dayton will face No. 2 Cascade Christian on Saturday in the state semifinals.
The Pirates are 9-2 this season, and Cascade Christian is 11-0.
St. Paul faces Myrtle Point in 1A semifinals
The Buckaroos beat Perrydale 62-6 in the OSAA Class 1A 8-person state quarterfinals.
No. 1 St. Paul will face No. 5 Myrtle Point Saturday in the semifinals.
The Buckaroos are 9-0 this season, and Myrtle Point is 7-3.
This week’s games
Class 6A — championship bracket
Central Catholic at West Linn
Tualatin at Sheldon
Class 6A — Columbia Cup
North Salem at Liberty
Lakeridge at Westview
Bend at Wilsonville
Thurston at Summit
Scappoose vs. Estacada
Tillamook at La Grande
Kennedy vs. Banks
Dayton at Cascade Christian
Heppner vs. Oakland
Colton vs Weston-McEwen
Class 1A (8-player)
Myrtle Point at St. Paul
Lost River vs. Powder Valley
Class 1A (6-player)
Spray/Mitchell/Wheeler vs. Triangle Lake