Central Catholic had a tough road to follow early this season, getting blown out in week 1 to Lake Oswego, losing their senior quarterback in week 2 and a close 14-12 loss to Jesuit in week 3. Despite the less then stellar start to the season, the Central Catholic Rams are peaking at the right time, winning four games in a row and solidifying their bid for the conference title with a 37-13 win over the (5-2, 2-1) Gresham Gophers.
The Gophers entered last weekend’s game with a swagger in their step, having only lost their first game of the season to the Sunset Apollos. However, there was much speculation as to how good the Gophers really were without having a signature win over a team with a record over .500.
The disparity between the teams was apparent from the beginning when the Rams went into half time with a 37-7 lead and would not need another score to win the game. Central Catholic scored on all six possesions they had in the first half and managed to do it with a two QB system.
Sophomore QB Aiden Wilder has had his ups and downs this season but started this game looking like a seasoned vet. Wilder loosened up the Gophers defense leading the Rams on a balanced attack through the air completing 8-12 of his passes for 143 yards, 11 rushes for another 96 yards and 2 touchdowns. Both on the ground.
Despite Wilder’s great numbers he was taken out of the game in favor of senior QB Ben Cook who started the season, but tweaked his knee in a victory over Canby in week 2. Cook looked good in the game, throwing an 11 yard touchdown pass and followed that up with a 39 yard touchdown pass to Hayward Demison. Both in the second quarter.
However, it was not all about the Rams offense, it was also about the Rams opportunistic defense who forced five turnovers in the game, with three on the Gophers first three possessions in the second half. They also managed to contain the leagues leading rusher, Devauntae Hoffman, to 30 yards under his average and only one touchdown.
Central Catholic played a complete game and made a very good Gresham team look mediocre at best. There have been growing pains for this Central Catholic team, who has played half of their season without their senior QB, but managed to weather the storm. Now Cook is getting healthy and taking reps.
This unexpected twist of losing Cook in the beginning of the season now looks to be a blessing in disguise. Wilder’s play has improved game to game and he’s emerged as a rising star and the heir apparent to Cook with his dual threat ability to get the job done through the air or on the ground.
The Rams should be the favorites for the rest of the season and I expect them to win the Mt. Hood conference title. With the playoffs right around the corner, there are few teams that are rolling the way the Rams are and they’re peaking at just the right moment. I wouldn’t slot these guys in the OSAA title game yet, but they are getting hot at just the right time of the season.
—Jesse James, NWPreps.net