Oregon football power Jesuit seeks Clark County challenge

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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PORTLAND -- One of the best football programs in Oregon is coming to Southwest Washington for the next couple of weeks.

Traditional power Jesuit will play Camas at Doc Harris Stadium today, in a game featuring the top-ranked team in Oregon against what many observers are calling the top 4A team in Washington. The next week, Jesuit will be at McKenzie Stadium to take on Union.

"Let's play people who are good," Jesuit coach Ken Potter said. "How do we get better for the playoffs if we don't play the best teams around?"

Both Jesuit and Camas lost in their respective state semifinals last year.

"When you have good teams that are right across the river, why don't we play them?" Potter asked. "It will be extremely tough. Win or lose, it will make us better."

Oregon's season started a week ahead of Washington's so Jesuit already has played a game. Camas coaches and some players watched Friday night as the Crusaders beat Lake Oswego 28-21. Union had representatives there, as well.

Both Clark County squads know they will have to play solid run defense. Jesuit's Chase Morrison rushed for 218 yards and two touchdowns. The Crusaders gained 365 yards on the ground and another 84 through the air.

"We played Union last year. We know they're good," Morrison said. "We heard Camas is pretty good, too. Now it's time for us to focus on Camas."

Jesuit, like Camas and Union, plays in a six-team league, meaning there are a number of nonleague games to schedule. Mike Hughes, Jesuit's athletic director, said the state's ADs get together every year and determine the strongest teams, the middle-of-the-road squads, and the programs that are building, and then they try to match up the best games.

"Because Vancouver is geographically close, we invite them, too," Hughes said. "They pick up some games sometimes. It's that simple."

Hughes added that Jesuit's philosophy is not to chase down "national" games and travel to California or Texas.

"We think national rankings are kind of silly. We think there are a lot of great teams in Oregon and Southwest Washington. We don't need to travel," Hughes said. "It's a lot cheaper, and it's great for the fans."