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Wilsonville’s big-play offense keeps humming vs. Silverton, but Wildcats to face toughest test yet in Bend

“We have a lot of smart players out there, and they do a good job putting themselves in position to be successful.”

By Dave Ball 

The end zone is easy to spot. It’s always at one end of the field, and it’s often painted a different color with large letters spelling out the name of the home team.

The Wilsonville football team certainly has no trouble finding the end zone, scoring five touchdowns or more in eight of its games this season. The 5A Wildcats grabbed everyone’s attention early in the season when they played up and put 49 points on Westview, which turned out to be a 6A playoff qualifier. 

Wilsonville players haven’t slowed down since, rolling up points like they are playing a pinball machine. They put up 52 on Hood River Valley in the Northwest Oregon Conference opener, 42 on previously unbeaten Putnam in the NWOC title game and 51 on North Eugene to open the 5A playoffs.

Junior quarterback Kallen Gutridge is at the flippers, choosing which ramp or spinner will tilt the machine on Friday night.

Kallen Gutridge Wilsonville Silverton football Dave Ball 1

“It’s our coaching philosophy, but it’s their offense,” Wilsonville coach Adam Guenther said. “We have a lot of smart players out there, and they do a good job putting themselves in position to be successful.”

Last Friday, Gutridge passed for two scores and ran for two more as Wilsonville led start to finish in a 39-26 quarterfinal win over defending 5A champion Silverton.

Early in the second quarter, Gutridge cashed in a red-zone visit after seeing a hole open in the middle of the field. He took off into the open space and took a kangaroo hop as he approached the goal line, leaving a couple of Silverton would-be tacklers flat-footed while he sailed through for the 9-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

“I’ll take what the defense gives us,” Gutridge said. “If I see the coverage drop, I’ll tuck the ball down and get what I can.”

Silverton made it a one-possession game early in the third quarter.

Wilsonville answered the challenge with a lightning strike when sophomore Mark Wiepert broke wide open over the middle of the field and Gutridge hit him in stride for a 63-yard touchdown.

Mark Wiepert Wilsonville Silverton football Dave Ball 1

“Silverton fought really hard tonight, but we were able to take advantage of some holes in the defense and turn it to our favor,” Gutridge said. “It all comes down to our play-calling and execution. We work hard through the week, and we get to see it come to fruition on game night.”

Silverton would crawl within reach once more late in the third quarter.

Once again, it wouldn’t last long. 

After just missing on another deep connection, Gutridge pulled the ball down and used his feet on the next play. He darted and dashed 60 yards down the sideline, leaving tacklers grasping at ghosts.

“He runs hard, he knows how to read his blocks and he’s shifty — you can’t coach that stuff,” Guenther said.

A holding penalty late in the run canceled the touchdown, but the drive still ended in points in the form of a 35-yard field goal by Greg Keswick.

Gutridge put the game out of reach at 39-20 in the fourth quarter when he scrambled for a 17-yard touchdown.

Senior Ryder McElroy caught the game’s first touchdown pass, but he made his biggest impact on defense, where he came up with three sacks and made several other tackles for loss.

Ryder McElroy Wilsonville Silverton football Dave Ball 1

Silverton was forced to punt out of its end zone three times, setting up short fields for the Wilsonville attack.

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“We set the edge and keep the pressure on,” McElroy said. “If we can give our guys good field position, that sets us up to do what we do best.”

Wilsonville’s big-play offense will face its biggest test of the season when it takes on No. 3-seed Bend in the 5A semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday at Barlow High School. The Lava Bears lead the state in defense, allowing less than a touchdown per game on average. Bend has not surrendered a point in the playoffs.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Guenther said. “Once you get into the playoffs, every team presents its own challenges.”

Wilsonville finds itself in the 5A semifinals for the sixth time in the past seven seasons.

“We’re going to soak this all in tonight and get back to work,” senior running back Jacob Ogden said. “Last year, getting to the semis and losing was a terrible feeling — this is a big deal for all of us.”

Wilsonville 39, Silverton 26

Silverton — 0 — 7 — 13 — 6 — 26

Wilsonville — 7 — 7 — 17 — 8 — 39

First quarter

WLS — Ryder McElroy 10 pass from Kallen Gutridge (Greg Keswick kick), 2:58

Second quarter

WLS — Gutridge 9 run (Keswick kick), 8:52

SLV — Jackson Pfeifer 30 run (Sawyer Enderle kick), 3:52

Third quarter

WLS — Jacob Ogden 2 run (Keswick kick), 11:33

SLV — Pfeifer 1 run (kick blocked), 7:53

WLS — Mark Wiepert 63 pass from Gutridge (Keswick kick), 7:35

SLV — Pfeifer 3 run (Enderle kick), 2:03

WLS — Greg Keswick 35 field goal, 0:15

Fourth quarter

WLS — Gutridge 17 run (Wieppert run), 6:47

SLV — Pfeifer 1 run (pass failed), 3:37

Wilsonville Silverton football Dave Ball 2