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  • Ednold

Lake Oswego 11/22/19

For our final game this season Mrs. Ednold and I headed to Lake Oswego to watch the defending state champion Lake Oswego Lakers host the Lakeridge Pacers in a state quarterfinal matchup between the two rivals. I have to admit I was worried that the conventional world of 6A football would be a little boring after where we had been the past few weeks. I needn’t have worried. We saw many things we had never seen before.

These two schools are both from Lake Oswego and both compete in 6A Special District 5. They just met three weeks ago in a regular season game at Lakeridge where Lake Oswego trounced the Pacers 41-17, but every Lakeridge win has come away from home this season so maybe they just needed the routine of a pregame bus ride, however short, to prepare for the rematch. The Lakers finished third in the league, earning a #3 state ranking for the playoffs (while Tualatin, who finished second in the league, came into the playoffs ranked 7th. It must have made sense to someone.) The Pacers, meanwhile, malingered their way through the regular season with a 3-6 record, finished fifth in the league and entered the playoffs #22 before flipping the switch and surprising both Beaverton and Aloha on the road to set up the second Battle of the Lake of the 2019 season. Even with those two consecutive upsets the Pacers still came in with a losing record at 5-6 and were the lowest ranked team to ever make it to the quarterfinal round.

In the second half of the nineteenth century the town of Oswego grew up around Oswego Lake as the center of iron and steel production in the Pacific Northwest after the discovery of iron ore in the Tualatin Valley. In 1914 the Red Electric trolley system linked Oswego to Portland, 6 or 7 miles north. As transportation continued to improve throughout the twentieth century the town gradually grew to surround the lake and became less of a manufacturing center and more of a bedroom community for Portland. The town was just Oswego until it was renamed Lake Oswego in 1960. Lake Oswego High opened in 1951 and was completely rebuilt in the early 2000’s on the same spot as the old school at the intersection of Boones Ferry Rd. and Country Club Rd. In their 68 years of existence The Lakers have won two state championships in football, both in recent years: In both 2011 and 2018 they knocked off Sheldon of Eugene to win the title.

Former Oregon State great Gabe Miller played at Lake Oswego and spent several years in the NFL as both a linebacker and tight end. Neil Lomax, who led Mouse Davis’ run and shoot offense at Portland State in the late 70’s and started several years for the Cardinals in the NFL, is a Lake Oswego grad. Mike Stutes, who won a couple of national championships at Oregon State before pitching for the Phillies, was a Laker. As was Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m going out on a limb here and saying that Lake Oswego is the only high school in the state whose alumni include a current president of a country. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, graduated from Lake Oswego in 1967 as an exchange student and went on to a distinguished career as a cultural anthropologist before being elected President in 2014. I don't know if he's a good president or not but I certainly can't question the bravery of someone willing to take on that job.

Knowing that this game would be a hot ticket, we arrived early to find that most of the parking lot in front of the school and close to the field was reserved for boosters willing to pay the price. We did find an empty visitors spot not far away but I honestly don’t know where the later arrivals ended up, as there is very limited parking at the school and the surrounding community is not parking-friendly. We grabbed our blankets out of the trunk and made our way to the ticket booth above the northeast corner of the field. From there it’s a few flights of stairs down to the grandstands where Mrs. Ednold picked out our seats.

Home (north) seating

Cobb Field, named for Charley Cobb, a wealthy local resident and school benefactor, is a nice facility. It benefits from the tranquil suburban neighborhood the whole beautiful campus is a part of, though it's not far from the busy part of town. The field is artificial turf surrounded by a running track. The home-side grandstand with its aluminum bleachers was a little quirky. The east half of the stand, between the 30 yard lines, is covered. From the looks of it this was the original section. This is mostly the student/band section and part of it had been “reserved” by people putting down stray towels and blankets to secure their spot prior to the game.

Wanting a little distance from the band and other sources of “music”, we continued west to the uncovered portion which I assume was added at a later date. This western half stretches from the 30 yard line to the back of the end zone. The asymmetricality didn’t sit well with the OCD part of me; we were pretty much in the middle yet were looking at the 20 yard line. The large aluminum visitors section across to the south is large and symmetrically situated. Sadly, I can only comment on the adequacy of the popcorn and hot chocolate we got as pregame snacks at the little concession stand on the west end of the field. I couldn’t find another, and that little booth was woefully undersized for the three or four thousand people in attendance. I didn’t go back once the game began.

Visitors (south) seating

The other source of “music” mentioned above was a sound system of arena-rock quality turned up to arena-rock volume placed directly at the foot of the covered stands. Even as we parked The Bucket and made our way toward the field we could hear… something. I use the term “music” to convey a general impression of what it might have been if the volume had been turned down about 90%. All I could make out were hundreds of decibels of bass reverberating off of every surface, thump-a-dump-dumping into my cranium. It was excruciating. Mrs. Ednold claimed that she could make out a tune somewhere in that mess. I couldn’t. Someone once taught me to appreciate each new experience as different, not better or worse, than previous experiences. With that in mind, one of my cardinal rules while attending games is that I don’t compare one experience to another. I’m going to break that rule right now. Last week Camas Valley, who doesn’t have a band, played some music at a reasonable level to entertain the crowd during pregame warmups: Lots of AC/DC and John Cougar as I recall; stuff that was familiar to all and served to bring everyone together to enjoy the game. Lake Oswego could take some pointers, especially since they have a band that could easily have been playing during this time.

The deafening cacophony continued until, mercifully, the game started and the bands started playing, which was almost as bad. Not that the bands were bad, but there were two of them. The Lakeridge band, directly across the field, played their thing. The Laker band, 40 yards to our left, played their thing. Often at the same time trying to outdo each other for loudness. It would have been bad form to stand up and scream and tell everyone to just shut up, and everyone would have thought I was some crotchety old man just taking a break from chasing kids out of my yard. Old? Maybe. But given a little Rob Base or Marvin Gaye played at a reasonable level I’ve been known to bust a move at appropriate moments, which would be when nobody else is looking. In the end me and my splitting headache just made up our mind to enjoy the game and ignore the racket coming from every direction.

Here’s a little riddle you might want to work out: The Lake Oswego color scheme, according to the OSAA, is navy blue and white. They have silver helmets. Think Dallas Cowboys and you won't be far off. So why were all of their students dressed in red? Why do their cheerleaders wear red and black? Why does their mascot (Pilot Joe Sea Farer) wear a red shirt? I don’t know. I may never know.

Pilot Joe Sea Farer

I knew that this game would feature perhaps the two best running backs in the state in Jalen John of Lakeridge and Lake Oswego’s Casey Filkins. What I didn’t realize is that these two players would be the sole offensive threat for their respective teams. Lakeridge did make a few attempts to pass the ball, without much success, but I don’t remember the Lakers running a single pass play. One of those few Lakeridge passes was completed at the end of the first quarter to a receiver who was then tackled and suffered the most gruesome leg fracture I’ve ever seen. It’s more than a little sickening to see a leg bending at a right angle where there is no joint. It was all I could do to keep Mrs. Ednold from barfing on me when we saw that and I was glad I hadn't made a return trip to the snack bar before then. Then the player sat on the field for the next 15 minutes waiting for an ambulance to arrive. It was painful to sit and wait while that poor kid sat and waited. About the time they finally got him loaded up a second ambulance from a competing organization showed up and blocked the exit for the first one. A few minutes later the second driver relented and the young man was on his way to the hospital and hopefully a speedy operation and recovery. It’s concerning to see a metro area school so unprepared to deal with an emergency situation like that.

The halftime show consisted of a dance routine by the Laker cheerleaders and another dance routine by the Laker dance team (2 thumbs up from Mrs. Ednold). And in between the two, the announcement of each of the sponsors of the Laker dance team, which took longer than both of the routines put together. Or maybe my foul mood was returning because I knew that after the Laker dancers left the field they would be turning on that damn “music” again to fill the time until the game restarted. My head is throbbing just thinking about it.

I don’t blame either team for being as one-dimensional as they are. I strongly suspect the water in the nearby lake has been tainted with mass quantities of HGH. Given the enormity of the offensive linemen for both teams, especially Lake Oswego, running the ball on every down made perfect sense. Ever hear of a team that doesn’t have a quarterback? I guess technically Lake Oswego has one; he would make an occasional appearance to give Filkins a breather but the rest of the time they just snapped it straight to their running back in an otherwise empty backfield and let him follow his giant linemen downfield. Every play. Since Filkins is headed to Stanford next season (after committing to and then jilting rival California) I guess he must be good. But the truth is Pee Wee Herman could have a thousand yard season behind that offensive line. Jalen John had to work a little harder to pick up his yards, and he did. One of the turning points in the game came when he was injured in the third quarter and missed much of the second half. Expectedly, the Pacer offense struggled without him. The other turning point came when the Lake Oswego punt returner fumbled the ball, Lakeridge recovered, and the entire play was waved off due to an official’s inadvertent whistle. But for those two pivotal moments the Lakers’ season would probably have ended. But they took advantage of their breaks, went up by 10 and held on for a 3 point victory.

Our trip to Lake Oswego was different than any of the other games we had seen. Despite the cold, the crowd was huge, with the stands full and the crowd spilling out onto the running track all around the field. The talent level was beyond anything we had seen before. It was a good game. An exciting, intensely competitive game. A game full of things I hadn’t been expecting, which is what making the trip is all about.

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Marcella L. Gentry
Marcella L. Gentry
Nov 25, 2019

So riveting!! You do have a way with words!! Thank you again. We will miss your commentaries. My husband was laughing his head off. I am afraid I would not endured the game with all that music? noise. Years ago, when our granddaughter played LaCrosse for West Linn, they had loud music, but only for a short time. West Linn has done well in the past and a big rival to Lake Oswego.


Gil Stewart
Gil Stewart
Nov 25, 2019

Your last football game of the season...........Will miss your weekly comments. But there is always next year.

I've always been curious about Lake Oswego. Now I know more that I ever thought I would.

Do you remember Terry's friend Eric Severson? His Dad taught science at Lakeridge. We

have some of his paintings. That's our connection to Lake Oswego.


Gil Stewart
Gil Stewart
Nov 24, 2019

All the way from Camas Valley to Lake Oswego. What a trip. And to end the season with a Civil War......between football teams and bands. As for the PA system. It probably cost a lot, so why not crank it up?

As you rest up from the long season, thanks for showing us a variety of games and atmospheres. Having read them all I would say that perhaps Ednold has found his second calling.

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