Playing listless opponents is good for padding stats, but that's about it

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Lionel Sandoval (16) and Robby Backus (8) team up to take down Estacada quarterback Willie Blankenship. The Indians smothered the Rangers' offense, allowing only one scoring drive once the game had already been decided.Just 90 seconds in, everybody knew how the game was gonna end. Braden Clark skipped into the end zone, and soon enough the Indians were up by eight and on their way to a 16 point lead before the opening quarter was up.

Estacada was outmatched. They were more than outmatched, they were helpless. Fruitless on offense (they didn’t score until the closing minutes of the fourth), and embarrassing on defense.

   Can you really blame the Rangers, though? Scappoose steamrolled their first opponent this year as well, and Roosevelt was expected to contend for the playoffs in Class 5A. Estacada isn’t nearly the team Roosevelt is, and the loss could have been even worse if not for a pair of turnovers inside the 20 yard line.

This week, they continue their non-league schedule with a game at home against Rainier. And while I’ll admit that Rainier is a good team – they’ve won their league every season since 2008 – they can’t hope to compete with a team like Scappoose. The Indians have already proven they don’t really let up, whether it’s a ranked opponent or a team that’s down on their luck, and so we can expect another drubbing this week.

Scappoose’s next opponent after Rainier has me intrigued. The Indians will pay a visit to Central, who is ranked in the top 10 in Class 4A, and are traditionally a playoff team. I can’t say the Panthers will put up any more of a fight than the Rangers, but is nice to see a team on Scappoose’s schedule with some merit.

I’d like to see more of that. The Tribe has a reputation of success and a history of being one of the better programs in the state in the last decade. Why not pursue scheduling deals with the rest of the elite? It does zilch for Scappoose to face off against teams who are likely to roll over and die in the first 10 minutes, and come playoff time, experience against the best teams in Oregon will be paramount.

The two year deal on scheduling for sports is up this spring. Maybe it’s time to take a second look at the quality of the opponents the Indians match up against.

Baker has won two championships in three years. Sisters and Siuslaw have been to the title game a combined four times in the last decade. Even teams like Gladstone and Philomath, though they haven’t finished on top, have always been one of the best.

Why not bring in teams like these? The biggest downside is you play a good team and wind up with a good game. You learn something. Your players gain valuable experience. The fans actually enjoy what they see, and the band gets to play something other than the school’s fight song.

I loved the Roosevelt matchup. The star athletes and high hopes for the Roughriders’ program gave us something to chew on in the week before the game, and while Scappoose ran roughshod over the Roughriders, it was a statement. Yeah, the Indians really are that good.

So when Robert Medley, athletic director at Scappoose High School, and his cronies sit down with other schools to discuss a new schedule, it’d be good to see some big names highlight the list. Give the kids an opportunity to play against the top competition, and give the fans a chance to see the best matchup you can give them. At least give the band a break.

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