Football championship game preview: Westview and North Salem to battle for inaugural Columbia Cup

Oregon’s first Columbia Cup will be handed out on Friday, with Westview and North Salem battling for the inaugural trophy.

The new Class 6A postseason split is allowing two programs that haven’t seen much playoff success before get a deep postseason run. Westview has never played in a football title game and North Salem hasn’t won a state championship since the ‘60s.

The Columbia Cup finals will be on Friday at 11 a.m. at Hillsboro Stadium.

Take a look at the two teams competing in Friday’s contest:

Westview Wildcats vs Lakeridge Pacers football

Westview’s Jordan Fisher, right, carries the ball during the game between Westview and Lakeridge on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022 at Hillsboro Stadium.Naji Saker for The Oregonian/OregonLive

No. 18 Westview Wildcats (7-5)

Westview is playing a football game on Thanksgiving week for the first time in school history. The Wildcats have never been to a championship game before, and the Columbia Cup would be the first state-level trophy to be added to the trophy case.

Westview is not a stranger to anyone. This team lives by the running game and the play of Jordan Fisher. The senior running back ended the season with 2,555 yards (8.5 yards per carry) and 35 touchdowns. He accounted for 62% of all of Westview’s offense this fall.

Midway through the season, the Wildcats were struggling after a tough string of games. On Oct. 7, Westview was 1-5 after losses to Wilsonville, Summit, Tualatin, Mountainside and Jesuit (all playoff teams). Since then, the Wildcats are on a six-game winning streak, and those early losses are part of that success.

“It took us eight years to build this program up to where we could play the toughest schedule in Oregon,” said coach Ryan Atkinson. “In my opinion you are never going to take the next step unless you play the best that’s out there. This was planned and we wanted to go through those golden lessons you get to learn in big games. I thought our kids and coaches handled it extremely well and we grew as a program after that stretch. We are definitely stronger coming out of it and a different football team.”

While the game on Friday morning will not be accompanied by a state championship, Atkinson said this is still a big moment for the program.

“We are extremely excited to be playing in a championship game,” he said. “Any time you are playing for hardware you are excited. The goal at the beginning of the year was to play the toughest schedule we could, make the playoffs, learn from those games then go on a run for the playoffs. We have accomplished those goals.”

And how can Westview come home with the Columbia Cup? Atkinson said the key will be securing the ball and limiting penalties.

Roosevelt Riders vs. North Salem Vikings Football

Roosevelt’s Armando Ferrusca (23) hangs on to North Salem’s Josiah Davis despite losing his helmet on the play during the Vikings’ win over the Roughriders on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2022.Ali Gradischer for The Oregonian

No. 28 North Salem Vikings (8-4)

Just like Westview, the Vikings like to pound the ball on the ground. North Salem’s offense has been led by running back Josiah Davis this fall, but due to an injury in the semifinal game the team relied on Jerrik Wangler against Liberty.

Wangler, a junior, finished the semifinal contest with three touchdowns as the Vikings toppled Liberty 39-21.

Davis leads the team with 1,254 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Wangler has 625 and 11 touchdowns while DeMari Thompson has 440 yard and four touchdowns.

And of course, teams can’t sell out to defend the run as the Vikings have T.C. Manumaleuna (one of the state’s top recruits) at quarterback.

The Vikings have been road warriors this postseason, with every game being on the road (at Newberg, at Jefferson and at Wilsonville High School against Liberty) while winning by an average point differential of 24 points per game.

According to coach Jeff Flood, the run through the postseason has been supported by a tough league schedule, that was the Vikings play teams like South Salem and North Medford. He said that the Vikings have been strong in the first half of every game this fall, but the second half is where they had struggled against top teams. But that has changed in these playoffs.

“We have been working on sustained energy and effort and I feel we’ve played complete games in each of our post-season contests,” he said.

Flood said the the key for Friday’s game will be containing Fisher, but staying aware that Westview is able to advance the ball with other players as well.

“The quarterback is effective running and passing the ball and their offensive line will be tough to match up with,” he said. “In order to be successful on offense, we need to show the ability to both run and pass effectively.”

Flood said getting a full postseason schedule has allowed the Vikings to continue growing as a team, and hopefully the season ends with a trophy.

“Our kids are excited for the opportunity,” he said.

— Nik Streng,, @NikStreng

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