Vance: Looking ahead to the red-letter days of high school football
We are now a month into the fall season so it's time to take stock of where things stand.
In football, this much is clear — the Three Rivers League is having a phenomenal season and can rightly lay claim to the mantle of Oregon's best league.
Following Week 5 of the high school football season, the TRL features three unbeaten teams, that group including Lake Oswego, Lakeridge and Tualatin — all at 5-0.
In the OSAA power rankings — which evolve over the course of the season to set the table for the 32-team Class 6A state playoffs which open in November — Tualatin is No. 1, West Linn is No. 2, Lake Oswego is No. 6 and Lakeridge No. 7. In the Class 6A coaches poll conducted and distributed by OSAAtoday on Oct. 5, Tualatin was No. 1, West Linn — last year's de facto state champion — was No. 2, Lake Oswego No. 3 and Lakeridge No. 5.
Indeed, there were four unbeaten TRL teams prior to Week 5, but Tualatin's 49-14 win over West Linn on Saturday, Oct. 2, at Wilsonville High School narrowed the unbeaten field by one.
With all the great football that's already been played, there's a lot more still to come. Here are some of the red-letter days to come in TRL football that will help set the table for the start of the playoffs one month from now. West Linn at Lakeridge, 7 p.m. Oct. 8; Lake Oswego at Tualatin, 7 p.m. Oct. 8; Tualatin at Lakeridge, 7 p.m. Oct. 15; West Linn at Lake Oswego, 7 p.m. Oct. 22; and Lake Oswego at Lakeridge, 7 p.m. Oct. 29.
Around the rest of the state's football conferences, only the Mt. Hood Conference features more than one unbeaten team, with both Central Catholic and Clackamas checking in at 6-0 (each team's record also includes a forfeit win). The Rams are fourth in the OSAA power rankings and second in the coaches poll, while the Cavaliers are 13th in the OSAA rankings (again, those slots are designed to create the proper ranking order for the playoffs at the end of the season) and sixth in the coaches poll.
While the Cavaliers and Rams are the top two teams in the MHC, both Sandy and David Douglas have had some success, too, with the Scots currently 12th in the OSAA power rankings and the Pioneers 15th.
Here are the big Friday dates ahead in the MHC. Sandy at Clackamas, 7 p.m. Oct. 22; Clackamas vs. Central Catholic at Hillsboro Stadium, 7 p.m. Oct. 29; and David Douglas at Sandy, 7 p.m. Oct. 29.
It's not just the state's big schools who are having great seasons, either. Wilsonville, despite graduating 19 starters from a year ago, is back and unbeaten at 5-0 to kick off the 2021 season.
The Wildcats are currently ranked No. 1 in the OSAA power rankings and No. 2 in the Class 5A coaches poll, where they trail only Thurston. Probably the biggest game remaining on the team's regular-season schedule is its finale, a 7 p.m. Oct. 29 contest at Canby. The Cougars, a Class 6A school that plays at the 5A level for football, have opened their year with a 4-1 record and are fifth in both the OSAA power rankings and Class 5A coaches poll.