The No. 2 Tigard Tigers (13-1) got beat on the line of scrimmage offensively and defensively in the 49-0 loss to No. 1 Central Catholic (13-1) in the OSAA 6A state championship game. However, the loss wasn’t an indictment on this year’s Tigard squad. Central Catholic was just that impressive.
Tigard went undefeated until Saturday’s defeat and were champions of what is regarded as the toughest league in the sate. As head coach Craig Ruecker says, this team took another important step forward in the journey towards a championship.
1.) Obviously the outcome wasn’t what you wanted, but how proud are you of this year’s team?
“Word don’t describe how proud we are of our squad. It is very obvious Central Catholic is the best team in the state. But to say we’re the second best team in the state is not a bad thing. Also, to be blessed to play 14 games is a wonderful thing. It speaks volumes about this group and the groups that have been before. We’ve had great leadership and tradition. We had a quarterfinal team four years ago, then two semifinal teams, and this is a team that made it to the finals. That’s all really special. These guys kept working and working. We played in a tremendous league. For them to go 13-1 is an awesome deal.”
2.) What will you remember most from this year’s team?
“The wonderful character, strength and resilience that this group had. There were several games during the course of the year when we were down. Just two weeks ago against Jesuit, we were down two touchdowns with seven minutes to go, and came back to win that game. Last week, we were down with two minutes ago and came back to win that game. There was no give up in these guys. That’s what we’ll take away from this season.”
3.) What does this group of seniors mean to your program?
“This group of seniors is special, but they followed groups of seniors that have been great leaders. When this group of seniors was freshman they saw a group of seniors that year that got beat in the quarterfinals. When this group of seniors were sophomores and juniors, they saw varsity go to the semis. This year, they got to the finals. This group of seniors is special, but the groundwork has been laid. They have followed and done a great job.”
4.) What can you say, beyond football, about the team you coached?
“They’re not only great football players, but more importantly, they’re great young men. They’re people you would be so proud to call your son.”
The 2014 Tigers took the program to another level this season, just as preceding teams in years before. There is only one more step for Tigard. Perhaps that will come in 2015, and they’ll be the team holding the state championship trophy.