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- Written by Andy Wooldridge (CCCougarfan)
- Last Updated on June 27, 2012
- Published on November 12, 2006
- Hits: 9000
The brackets are down to 16 teams. And the frequent-driver miles are really going to start to pile up. The trips range from over an hour up to all day one way.
I was 2-2 the first week.
The "Sporty" game of the week between the Cottage Grove Lions and the Scappoose Indians was another lesson about the benefits of power football in the playoffs. The Lions controlled the game, but needed all that control to put ‘Poose away. I originally picked the Lions until a change of venue that favored ‘Poose. But even the better footing for the speedy Indians wasn't enough to overcome the physical Lions. I had originally gone with the Lions, until the move to turf tipped the scales toward ‘Poose's speed. It helped, but not enough. The ever improving Lions sent me a missed pick, and sent ‘Poose (and Sporty) to the showers for the season.
The Brookings-Harbor Bruins did everything but beat Gladstone. However, the Gladiators made big plays when needed (and this wasn't the first time), and sent the Bruins home after a long bus trip to Wilsonville. An experience the Bruins have had more than their fill of.
The Phoenix Pirates got their ship sunk by the North Bend Brown Bulldogs in a coastal storm that curbed both teams passing games. But in deep mud, the Brown Bulldogs had enough running might to repeat an earlier season win over the Pirates.
The Sweet Home Huskies were just a tune up for the Marist Spartans, and a scouting report for Hidden Valley. The move to turf avoided the mud, but not the wet and cold. However, those don't damage an offense nearly as much, and Marist marched on.
The Capital Conference weekly review details a couple of rematches from the regular season, LaSalle Falcons vs. Astoria Fishermen and Central Panthers vs. Molalla Indians, as well as the Gladstone Gladiators vs. Newport Cubs game.
"Look, up in the Sky"
The Skyline and the Sky-Em send their #2s up against their #1s.
The Central Oregon game of the week is Henley Hornets (7-3, 4-1) @ Sisters Outlaws (10-0, 6-0).
After a loss at Hidden Valley, the Hornets have gotten their offense swarming, winning 4 straight, though this will be the first trip away from the hive in a month. Also, the Hornet defense is pretty good, and is close to the Outlaws in points allowed.
But. They are staring at the top offense in 4A by far. The Outlaws are 20-1 in the Cory McCaffrey era, and, with 2 of the top 11 rushing seasons in the state's history at any level already in the books, the Hornets are staring at fire power like they have never seen before. Cottage Grove showed the state the game plan for Sisters; don't let them have the ball. Ball control keeps McCaffrey off the field, and if that ball control puts up some points, which the Hornets have been doing pretty well lately, then the game is on. A turnover of 2 wouldn't hurt either.
But (there is that word again), this is about how the Hornets can be in the game. Not win it. Sisters has been steadily working on diversifying their offense, and improving the defense and depth. And biding time for the games that really count. Time to re-unleash the weapon. Outlaws swat the Hornets, and are eyeing a possible bear hunting trip, depending on how Newport does.
The Southern Oregon game of the week is Marist Spartans (8-3, 5-1) @ Hidden Valley Mustangs (8-2, 4-1). A rematch of last year's quarterfinal. Both teams have played intimidatingly good ball most of the time, but have also had some rough outings where they were handled big time. So it's a question of which team shows up for both teams. Normally, losing a starting QB to a broken arm, as Marist has, ends your hopes for a big season. But having multiple running backs out for multiple games, especially for a primarily rushing team, as Hidden Valley has, also complicates going far in the playoffs. But in these cases, both teams have demonstrated resiliency and depth, traits conducive to winning a lot of games.
All this makes for a very intriguing game. Also, the effectiveness of the favored running games both teams prefer will depend on traction. The game is set for Hidden Valley, and has not been re-assigned to, say, the turf at Grants Pass. This favors the Mustangs, and may well hinder Marist, and Brandon Jackson. The mud was enough of a factor against Newport that the Spartans gave up a home playoff game to move their contest with Sweet Home to the turf. That indicates pretty clearly that the Spartans don't want tough conditions, and for a reason.
The matchups favored Marist last year, but this year, HV has better balance, and is getting healthier, while Marist is not at their peak. That puts pressure on the Spartan defense, more than the offense. And they haven't done all that well when the pressure was applied. See Kennedy, JC, Sisters, and Newport. The motivation to redeem last year's loss, coupled with recent Spartan injuries, and a vulnerable defense, should put the Mustangs over the top.
The GOL used the Ozzi system to allocate its 2 home playoff games to the teams farthest removed from the west side, maximizing the always strong home field advantage the GOL teams have in the playoffs. The home field advantage the far-east side teams have against the west side teams is as big as any in the state. Its a combination of factors, but history shows elevation, long bus rides, sometimes the weather, and some of the best support found anywhere make GOL teams brutally hard to beat on their terms, especially when those teams are pretty good anyway.
North Bend Brown Bulldogs (7-4, 4-1) @ Baker Purple Bulldogs (6-3, 2-1). Dogfight of the week, as well as bus ride of the week. If you doubt the significance of where games are played over there, note that Baker is 4-0 at home, but lost 3 of 4 on the road, and only one of those was even a playoff team (3A Vale). But the last 2 games, the Purple Bulldogs have gotten their offense in gear. Lest anyone think they piled it on, yes they did. In the start of the game. And with their defense, if you get far behind, its over.
The Brown Bulldogs play a fair ball game as well. And while the points for and against aren't as impressive, this is the ninth game against playoff teams. The Brown Bulldogs aren't going to be intimidated. But are going to be 3,400 feet higher than at home, and will have a full day on a bus to shake off. That has defeated a lot of good teams over the years.
Both teams are similar, in that they play good defense, run the ball, and add a decent passing game when conditions allow. Which is where the other factors come into play, and Baker is this year's charmed team. First the OZZI gods smiled on them, then the bracket gods smiled.
The brackets potentially send 2 good coast teams to Baker, who has the "x" all the way until Autzen. It's the best chance in a long time for the Purple Bulldogs to make a serious run, and they won't blow it in the first week. Baker pulls out the GOL home win for the year.
Yamhill-Carlton Tigers (8-2, 4-1) @ Ontario Tigers (6-3, 2-1). Last year the Westside Tigers went all the way to LaGrande for a big cat fight, one they lost in a shootout. This year they will go a couple hours farther, and they are playing some more Tigers again. High noon in Ontario is when the up and down YC season will be defined. Lots of second guessing arose after road losses by 3 TDs in Newport & Astoria. Turns out those guys were for real.
3 wins over playoff teams, including a big OT victory against Scappoose, and stunning passing numbers by Zach Anderson, earned the west side Tigers a trip to O, whose eastside Tigers were rewarded with a bye and a home game, despite being 0-3 against Oregon playoff teams. This is where last year's trip helps. The O-Tigers haven't seen a passing game the likes of the Y-Tigers, and that will blunt the limitations of YC's defense, and sometimes second fiddle (to the air game) rushing attack. The travel and early start usually hurts the west side, but YC has been there and knows what they are facing. GOL only gets 1 this week; the YC Tigers take another big step.
A Rematch of Another Sort
Last week and this features an unusual number of rematches from earlier this year, as well as some from last year. The Lions and Vikings renew acquaintances after redistricting separated the former Sky-Em rivals. Much of what made the regular season interesting was the large number of matchups of teams new to each other. Now, the interesting twist to the playoffs, where unfamiliar faces, places, and schemes are usually the challenge, is the large number of games where there won't be any surprises, as familiar foes are renewing hostilities.
Coastal Collision of the Week
Last weekend, there was no football on the coast. This week, there are 3 big games in 4A, and 3 more in 3A, as the Sunset Six has put 3 teams in the quarterfinals, and all are hosting. But the biggest of the big games is in Florence.
Cottage Grove Lions (7-4, 4-2) @ Siuslaw Vikings (9-0, 5-0). A huge event in Florence. The Vikings haven't played at home in a month. Also, the Florence fans are itching for a big game. They haven't seen a close game all year, and last year's playoffs ended in temperatures in the teens in Sisters, so playoff fever will be an epidemic. Also, a Viking win would mean home field advantage against Molalla. (Although after this year's travels, the Indian raiding party is the last team that will be intimidated by hostile surroundings.)
The Vikings have the best 4A defense by far. The Lions have a big, physical line, and have played, but survived, a brutal schedule. This is a huge threat to the Vikings' title hopes. Not only do the Lions have the size & power rushing game to attack the Viking defense, their ball-control offense is the best way to control the Siuslaw offense. Just as they did against the likes of Sherwood, Gladstone, Sisters, and especially the second time against ‘Poose, if you don't let the other team have the ball, their offense can't do much. And when you put an efficient passing game with that good ground game, you get a real small margin for Viking error.
Which is where special teams can make a difference, and Siuslaw should gain an advantage here. The Vikings won't give up much in the way of big plays, and should curb, though they won't be able to stop, the Lion offense. And the Vikings have the offensive balance to put points up, even, or maybe especially, if the footing in Florence isn't so good. Expect the recent weather to make the middle of the field go away. If the Vikings can get to the edges, they can't negate the Lions' size advantage.
The key will probably be turnovers, or other such big mistakes, that negate a lot of hard work for some one. If there is much of a turnovers margin, forget everything else.
In the end, though this is an upset possibility, Siuslaw knows CG well from their Sky-Em days, and won't underestimate the Lions. And that should signal a Viking win in a classic.