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South ready for big test.

Byline: Curtis Anderson The Register-Guard

The horn had barely sounded after South Eugene's 47-7 romp over Churchill on Friday night, and the Axemen were already looking ahead to next week's Midwestern League football showdown at Sheldon.

`The table's set,' South Eugene coach Chris Miller said. `This is a huge opportunity for us. We were hoping we would get off to this kind of start, and now we'll find out if we're pretenders or contenders.'

The Lancers would undoubtedly vote for the latter.

The Axemen, who improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in league, dominated Churchill (0-3) in every possible way Friday. It's the first time since 1986 that South has won its first three league games, and its best overall start since 1982.

`The biggest change here has been attitude,' said Miller, in his third season as head coach. `It took some time, but the kids are playing with passion and heart.'

Not to mention a high degree of skill.

Senior quarterback Brett McLennan was razor sharp against the Lancer defense as he completed 18-of-23 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. South's running game piled up 191 yards, led by senior Sammy Soto, who gained 71 yards on 10 carries and scored on runs of one and seven yards.

Despite being double-teamed all night long, senior wideout Matt Bramow caught five passes - including touchdowns of three and 26 yards - and he completed a 40-yard pass to Damola Adeniji.

Bramow also picked off a pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter, but the score was nullified due to a penalty.

It was one of four turnovers forced by an aggressive Axemen defense that recovered two fumbles, intercepted two passes and smothered a bad snap on fourth down with Churchill in punt formation.

`Our defense is creating turnovers. They're putting pressure on the quarterback, hitting hard and getting the ball back for us in good field position,' Miller said.

Churchill's lone score came on a 20-yard pass from quarterback Danny Gunderson to Ikaika Paakaula.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 25, 2004
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