Tillamook junior Tanner Hoskins has thrown for 12 touchdowns and run for three scores this season. (Photo by Jeff TerHar)
Tillamook junior Tanner Hoskins has thrown for 12 touchdowns and run for three scores this season. (Photo by Jeff TerHar)

After opening with seven road games, Tillamook's first home football game on its new artificial turf field Friday night already was going to be a special event for the coastal town.

But considering what's at stake when the No. 10 Cheesemakers play host to No. 6 Scappoose in a 4A Cowapa League showdown, the excitement level will be cranked up an extra few notches.

“We've been waiting for a home game of this magnitude for a long time,” Tillamook coach Kye Johnson said. “It's probably been 20 years since we've had a league-championship caliber game at home. It's going to be a great atmosphere.”

The winner between Tillamook (5-2, 3-0) and Scappoose (6-1, 3-0) will take sole possession of first place with one game remaining. For the Cheesemakers, it's an opportunity to claim a league title for the first time since sharing the Val-Co League crown with Philomath in 1999.

Tillamook has won five in a row since opening the season by losing to 4A No. 8 Marshfield 15-14 and 3A No. 2 Banks 20-12. The Cheesemakers had high hopes after a junior-led team finished 6-5 last season, falling only to 4A champion Marshfield, runner-up Marist Catholic and quarterfinalists Cascade, Banks and Henley.

“We've kind of ramped up our nonconference competition the last couple of seasons,” said Johnson, who is in his eighth year as coach. “We would not have done that the first three or four years. We're just in a different stage of our program.”

The team learned some tough lessons from the early losses to Marshfield and Banks.

“It was not a good mood after the first couple of weeks,” Jonnson said. “Even though they were close games, we felt like we should have won at least one. It was frustrating that we couldn't do quite enough to break through.”

The Cheesemakers made some minor changes to their lineup, mostly with their offensive and defensive lines, areas where they lost the most to graduation from last season.

“It took us a little bit of time to figure that out,” Johnson said. “By the time we hit Woodburn in Week 3, it felt like it started clicking a little bit, and we've been on a pretty good roll since then.”

Tillamook won at Woodburn 28-7, which stands as the Bulldogs' only loss this season. In the last four games, the Cheesemakers are averaging 47.5 points per game.

The offense is averaging 413.0 yards per game. It helps that many of the skill players are seniors who got starting experience as sophomores during the COVID-shortened season.

“This summer and fall camp, we were just so far ahead of where we've been in previous years with the skill guys,” Johnson said. “And they could play a lot of different positions, too. It allowed us to dive in a little bit deeper to our playbook and our schemes earlier than normal.”

Junior quarterback Tanner Hoskins, the starting slot receiver last year before suffering a concussion in Week 7 and missing the remainder of the season, is coming into his own. He has thrown for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns and run for 311 yards and three scores.

The Cheesemakers have four third-year starters are receiver in seniors Zeyon Hurliman, Parker McKibbin, Tyler Moncrief and Garrison Gunder. Hurliman is among the state leaders with 30 catches for 561 yards and 10 touchdowns.

“He catches pretty much anything in his radius,” Johnson said.

Senior running back Gilbert Whitlatch (357 yards, five touchdowns), another third-year starter, makes a productive backfield combination with senior Judah Werner (577 yards, five touchdowns). They run behind a line that features a fourth-year starter in senior right tackle Sam Diaz (6-3, 320).

“He's one of the better linemen that we've had,” Johnson said.

Scappoose, which dropped from 5A to 4A this season, has won five in a row since losing to 4A No. 2 Estacada 48-19.

Indians 6-4 sophomore quarterback Max Nowlin has thrown for 1,097 yards and 15 touchdowns, with 14 scores coming in the last five games. Last week, he threw for a career-high 335 yards against St. Helens.

Senior D'Angelo Macedo has rushed for 681 yards and eight touchdowns and senior Trey Dieringer has run for 338 yards and 10 scores. Senior Ben Rintoul has 31 catches for 403 yards and three touchdowns and senior Colby Campbell has 20 catches for 190 yards and five scores.

“They do a great job of spacing the field, like they always do,” Johnson said of the Indians. “When you watch it, it looks exactly like a lot of the other tough Scappoose offenses. You've got to be ready to get off blocks and tackle really well in space if you're going to have success against them.”

Scappoose junior linebacker Warren Haatia (6-1, 207) is having a big season with 9.6 tackles per game, 12 sacks and an interception.

Other notable matchups in Week 8:


6A No. 5 Mountainside (7-0, 3-0) at 6A No. 4 Jesuit (6-1, 3-0), 7 p.m.: The winner will claim at least a share of the Metro League title. It's been a terrific season so far for Mountainside, which is 7-0 for the first time in the fifth-year program's history. Jesuit has a dominant offensive line and senior running back Payton Roth, who has rushed for 1,435 yards and 17 touchdowns.

6A No. 6 Lake Oswego (5-2, 2-1) at 6A No. 7 Tigard (6-1, 2-1), 7 p.m.: Lake Oswego is coming off a huge win, beating No. 9 Tualatin 35-31 to show that it remains a legitimate player in 6A. Tigard will be looking to rebound from its first loss after getting rolled at No. 1 West Linn 63-14 last week.

5A co-No. 8 West Albany (4-2, 4-2) at 5A No. 3 Silverton (6-1, 6-0), 7 p.m.: Reigning 5A champion Silverton can claim the Mid-Willamette Conference title outright with a win. But it won't be easy against the explosive Bulldogs, who are loaded with weapons. West Albany's only two losses last season came against Silverton, including 44-14 in the semifinals.

5A No. 1 Summit (6-1, 3-0) at Mountain View (5-2, 3-0), 7 p.m.: The Storm and Cougars square off for first place in the Intermountain Conference. Summit can't afford to overlook Mountain View, which has lost only to co-No. 8 Canby 21-18 and No. 7 Southridge 24-21. The Storm won 34-17 last year.

5A co-No. 8 Canby (5-2, 2-0) at Putnam (7-0, 2-0), 7 p.m.: Putnam, 7-0 for the first time since 1986, gets its biggest test of the season in the Northwest Oregon Conference game against the Cougars, its first opponent currently ranked in the top 10 of the OSAAtoday 5A coaches poll.

4A No. 1 Mazama (7-0, 4-0) at 4A No. 3 Henley (7-0, 4-0), 7 p.m.: Much is on the line in the latest chapter of the South Side Series, a rivalry between schools three miles apart in Klamath Falls. The winner gains sole possession of first place in the Skyline Conference with one game left. Mazama has won 21 consecutive conference games since losing at Henley 22-21 in 2017.

4A No. 7 La Grande (5-2, 3-0) at 4A No. 4 Pendleton (6-1, 3-0), 7 p.m.: La Grande has quietly won four in a row since a 32-28 loss at No. 2 Estacada. The Tigers will be fired up to take on Greater Oregon League newcomer Pendleton with first place in the balance. In the teams' last meeting, La Grande won 36-14 in the 2019 opener on its way to a state championship.

3A No. 1 Cascade Christian (7-0, 7-0) at St. Mary's (6-1, 6-1), 7 p.m.: Cascade Christian, which has outscored its foes 377-22 this season, needs to get past the Crusaders to set up a potential showdown with No. 4 South Umpqua next week for the Far West League title. St. Mary's lost to South Umpqua 33-14 in Week 5.

2A No. 3 Oakland (6-1, 5-0) at 2A No. 1 Gold Beach (7-0, 5-0), 7 p.m.: The winner can claim at least a share of the Special District 3 title. Gold Beach has made a dramatic turnaround since going 0-9 in 2019. Oakland has been dominant in the last four weeks, winning by an average margin of 46.5 points.

1A-8 No. 4 Adrian (6-1) at 1A-8 No. 3 Powder Valley (7-0), 7 p.m.: The nonleague game is a rematch of last year's state final, won by Adrian 46-38. Powder Valley knocked off Adrian 70-58 in the finale of the COVID-shortened season in spring of 2021, but the Antelopes defeated the Badgers 38-0 in the regular season last year and again in the state final for their second title in three years.