Take a look back at everything West Linn football in 2018
You love your West Linn football, right?
Don't worry — we know you do.
And because we know, we have just the thing for you — consider it your first Christmas present.
It's every West Linn football story of the year and every photo to go with them.
See below for a story-by-story, week-by-week walk through the 2018 season with the mighty Lions.
Click on the blue hyperlinks to connect to each of the full stories.
To buy any of these photos or others not published this season, go to milesvance.smugmug.com.
For the first time in what seemed like a long time, West Linn was not the premier team in the Three Rivers League in 2017.
The Lions, after finishing second in the state in 2015 and winning their first Class 6A state championship in 2016, took third in the TRL last fall and eventually bowed out in the state quarterfinals.
While those results might represent a great year for other teams, West Linn has set the bar higher than that and the Lions are determined to get back to the top in 2018.
If you know Three Rivers League football, you know the games you just can't miss.
There's the rivalry games including Lake Oswego-Lakeridge, West Linn-Oregon City and Tigard-Tualatin.
There's the games between the league's giants — Lake Oswego vs. Tigard, Tigard vs. West Linn, West Linn vs. Lake Oswego and maybe those same teams against Lakeridge or Tualatin.
And this year, in the first year that TRL teams officially play under the banner of Special District 1, there's the games you won't get to see because of the new truncated district schedule.
Whatever the case, whether teams are playing for a TRL title or the Special District 1 crown, they're going to go at it hard, and coaches believe that Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tigard and Tualatin all have a chance for big things this season.
Things are going to look a little bit different in Three Rivers League football this year.
A little bit different, and different by being littler.
Based on decisions made by Class 6A athletic directors as they pursue the best formula for competitive balance, TRL football teams will only play five league games this year and next. In a year that already starts with Oregon City's return to the TRL and the exit of Newberg and Sherwood to the newly-reconstituted Pacific Conference, the shortened league season marks yet another change for 2018.
The Non-League Games
From the outside looking in, it was obvious — the West Linn football team was done.
The Lions — facing Central Catholic in both teams' opener at Hillsboro Stadium on Friday — had blown a 19-point lead, saw the Rams pull ahead by eight points in the fourth quarter then punted the ball away on each of their first two fourth-quarter possessions.
But West Linn's defense stepped up when it absolutely had to, the Lions' offense tied the game late in the fourth quarter, and finally, West Linn got one more stop in overtime and won the contest 47-41 on senior running back Dawson Jolley's 25-yard touchdown burst.
Each week poses a new test in Oregon high school football, but so far, the West Linn football team is passing with flying colors.
The Lions, who hosted McNary on Friday at West Linn High School, scored early, scored often and just kept scoring until they put the Celtics away 55-27.
Another week, another killer opponent for the West Linn football team and another chance for the Lions to prove themselves and get better.
West Linn, playing at Sheldon in non-league action on Friday night, traded punches with the talented Irish all night and trailed by just two points at the end of the third quarter before finally falling 42-27 in a game that saw starting quarterback Ethan Long knocked out of commission with an ankle injury.
The Three Rivers League Season
The West Linn football team was, admittedly, not at 100 percent on Friday night against Lakeridge.
Senior quarterback Ethan Long had spent part of his week in a boot after suffering an ankle injury against Sheldon a week earlier.
Senior running back Dawson Jolley — the team's leading rusher — missed the game with a concussion.
So how did the Lions respond? They forced five Lakeridge turnovers, fought off a determined Pacer challenge and pulled away to win their Three Rivers League opener 45-28 at West Linn High School.
The West Linn football team, it turns out, is again among the state's best teams.
In the latest Class 6A statewide coaches poll shared on the Oregon School Activities Association website on Tuesday, West Linn is seventh in the ranking of the state's top 10 teams.
Good, old-fashioned hard-nosed football.
Sherwood thrived on it for most of the contest.
But at the end, West Linn showed it could play some hard-nosed football of its own.
And the Lions got a thrilling, hard-fought win to show for it. West Linn, after rallying to tie the game in the fourth quarter, came away with a 26-20 double-overtime victory over the Bowmen in a non-league battle played Friday at Sherwood High School.
The West Linn football team may have struck first Friday, but Lake Oswego struck back — and struck back hard.
The Lakers, after falling behind by a touchdown early on, ripped off four unanswered TDs and used that fast start to fuel their 41-28 win at Lake Oswego High School.
After last week's painful loss to Lake Oswego, the West Linn football team was ready to turn over a new leaf, turn up the power and turn the corner.
And the Lions did just that by turning over previously unbeaten Tualatin.
West Linn forced five Timberwolf turnovers in their Friday home game, turned those miscues into 14 points and ran away to beat Tualatin 45-20 at West Linn High School.
It was a day for defense.
On a day when the Tigard football team's offense managed just one first down in the opening half, the Tigard defense stepped up.
The Tigers picked off five West Linn passes on Friday night, got three field goals from junior Jackson Cleaver and used those to power its 23-21 victory at West Linn High School.
It's almost time to kick off the 98th iteration of the West Linn vs. Oregon City high school football rivalry.
But first, the Optimists Club of Oregon City is inviting the public to attend a breakfast on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Oregon City Elks Club to preview the annual "Battle for the Bridge" contest.
It's time to "Battle."
The 98th annual "Battle for the Bridge" football game between West Linn and Oregon City — the longest uninterrupted high school rivalry series west of the Mississippi River — will be played at 7 p.m. Friday at Pioneer Memorial Stadium on the Oregon City High School campus.
"West" was best in the 98th annual Battle for the Bridge.
"West," in this case, was the West Linn football team and the Lions stepped up big-time in the longest running high school football rivalry west of the Mississippi, blasting out to a 39-point lead in the first half and riding that to a 46-14 rout of Oregon City at Pioneer Memorial Stadium on Friday.
Now that is how you kick off a playoff run.
The sixth-ranked West Linn Lions opened the second season with a flourish, dropping 70 points on McMinnville in their 70-35 Friday victory in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs at West Linn High School.
Turnovers have been the key to the West Linn football team's success all season long.
When the turnovers have gone the way of the Lions' opponents, West Linn has struggled to win.
When turnovers have gone in the Lions' favor — as they did Friday night — good things have happened.
West Linn — taking advantage of a key Lakeridge turnover — scored 21 points in just 4 minutes, 19 seconds at the end of the first half and used that outburst to beat Lakeridge 55-20 in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs on Friday night at West Linn High School.
Week one of the playoffs was a challenge for the West Linn football team.
Week two had its moments as well.
But now, in the Class 6A state quarterfinals, the Lions will find out what they're really made of.
At 7 p.m. Friday, West Linn will face one of the state's marquee programs — No. 3 Sheldon — at Sheldon High School with a state semifinal berth on the line.
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