Class 5A football has changed shape since the classification’s origination in 2006.
Corvallis edged West Albany 17-14 in three overtimes in the state championship that fall. That began a strong football playoff run for the Mid-Willamette. Through 2018, MWC teams combined for 31 quarterfinal appearances, 16 semifinal berths and five state championships in 13 seasons.
The Mid-Willamette has regularly fielded strong teams, while the landscape across the rest of the classification is different as some of the top football programs have moved on to 6A and stayed there.
Six teams have made the football quarterfinals at least five times in the history of the 5A classification.
Mountain View (eight appearances) and Sherwood (seven) are now 6A schools. Hermiston (three) is no longer an Oregon School Activities Association school as a decision was made to join the Washington association starting last school year.
Those three schools have a combined five 5A football titles. Summit, the 2015 5A champion, and Bend, a three-time quarterfinalist, are also now in 6A.
West Albany and Wilsonville are tied for the most quarterfinal appearances among current 5A teams at eight. The others are Lebanon and Silverton (five apiece).
Wilsonville is on a hot streak, having made the 5A semifinals the past four seasons. The Wildcats were state runners-up in 2016 and 2018.
Thurston, the state runner-up to West Albany in 2008, appears to be on the rise again after returning to 5A last fall after playing six seasons of 6A football. The Colts won the 2018 5A title.
Thurston is undefeated and ranked first in this week’s OSAA 5A coaches poll, followed by West Albany, Silverton, Crater, Ashland, Pendleton, Wilsonville, North Bend, Lebanon and Dallas.
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North Bend moved to the 5A classification from 4A last fall, moving the Bulldogs out of a league with rival and neighboring Marshfield of Coos Bay. North Bend hosts Thurston on Friday. Ashland has made the 5A quarterfinals six times, with its biggest highlight being a 2015 second-place finish.
West Albany reached the state semifinals six times and won three championships in the first eight years of 5A.
Forty schools were among the original 5A when the classification was established in 2006. That number changed to 37 in 2010 and 33 in 2014.
The 5A classification has 35 teams for football this fall, including five schools that otherwise compete in 6A.
In its return to 5A last fall after a four-year stint in 6A, West Albany picked up where it left off in 2013, as one of the classification’s top football programs.
West went 16-23 overall and 12-20 in the 6A Greater Valley Conference with two state playoff appearances.
Back in 5A in 2018, on the other end of the spectrum as one of the larger schools based on enrollment, West reached the semifinals for the seventh time in nine years in 5A since the creation of the classification. Lebanon and West Albany were among the six schools that were in the 2006 and 2018 5A round-of-16 brackets.
West came back to 5A to find many of the top teams it competed against for state championships — Glencoe, Jefferson, Sherwood and Mountain View — had moved to 6A or were staying there.
Two of the other remaining teams with the best 5A football history are in the Mid-Willamette in Lebanon and Silverton. Those schools helped the MWC have at least one semifinal team — and 12 total entrants — in the first nine years of the classification.
West Albany (4-0) goes to Lebanon (2-2) on Friday and later finishes the regular season at home against Dallas (3-1) and at Silverton (4-0).