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FSP: Indians begin and end with running game

Plenty of speed on the ground, deep corps of young receivers


Photo Credit: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Tribe senior Jacob 'Wendy' Wendelschafer cracks a smile as the team runs on to the field for their annual intra-squad scrimmage on Aug. 23.Looking at the big names missing from the Scappoose football roster from last fall, it can be easy to see why one might expect the Indians to take a step backward as they begin the climb toward their next big playoff run.

The Tribe is breaking in a new quarterback, lost two of Class 4A’s best receivers and kick returners, watched their top running back graduate and waved adieu to a more than solid anchor on the offensive and defensive lines.

   Head coach Sean McNabb sees things differently. Two years ago, Scappoose had to replace one of the best athletes the school had seen in several years, Paul Revis. At that point, last years’ star receiver Justice Oman was a junior spending most of his time on the bench – just waiting in the wings.

“Every year you feel like you take a hit, definitely, but it’s easy to watch these kids progress and mature,” McNabb said. “I can remember when Justice was a junior and getting playing time. He was really raw, and then look at him his senior year. Nick Rust didn’t play much his junior year at the varsity level and wound up being a big player for us. Those kids progress in the weight room and just physically and mentally, and I’m seeing some of that with Jake Ford this year, and of course David Krupsky, Jacob Wendelschafer and Logan Brooks.”

The Indians will also welcome back Joey Krupsky at quarterback after a season in which he saw time near the end of games and in a pinch situation when starter Taylor Loss was knocked out for a critical game in Astoria. Unlike Loss, who spent much of his time in the pocket, Krupsky is a little taller and lankier and is well adapted to carry the ball himself.

Photo Credit: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Starting quarterback Joey Krupsky is speedy and difficult to catch, giving Scappoose a new wrinkle in their offense.
“He’s been playing quarterback all his life. This is his year, and he’s ready to go,” McNabb said. “Last year he had to step up, and he did great. He’s a playmaker and he understands what he’s supposed to do, and there probably would have been a lot of teams last year that he could have started for.”

The offensive success of last years team was predicated on the pounding run of Carson Davison, quick passes over the middle and the long ball up the wing to the hands of Oman and fellow speedster Nick Rust. While the 2014 edition will also be lightning quick, there will be a different twist on the ground to make the most of Krupsky’s feet.

“One of his strengths is an ability to run the football,” McNabb said. “We’ll have some stuff built in for him to pull the football and go, and he’s a big threat. That just opens up a lot of areas that we can exploit against a defense, and opens up doors for other players, too.”

The “other players” include a host of receivers that took a back seat behind Oman and Rust. David Krupsky, brother to Joey Krupsky, caught 28 passes last year for over 350 yards and two touchdowns a year ago, and is expected to explode with increased time on the field. McNabb said he has gotten considerably faster over the summer, and leads a receiving corps stacked with talent. Wendelschafer, who didn’t see the field much last season, will be another important piece, along with junior Jake Ford, Ben Gadbois and Logan Brooks. Mason Reardon and Brendan McNabb, both juniors, will get solid experience heading into the season as well.

The Indians have an excellent group of running backs in the vacuum after Davison left for College of the Siskiyous along with Oman and Rust. Scappoose will feature senior Johnny Tardiff, as well as two members from the record-setting track relay teams, Braedon Clark and Jarrett White, who also took home the league 100 meter title last spring. McNabb described him as one of the fastest guys in the league, and along with Clark, Tardiff and the contributions of Joey Krupsky, the Indians have endless combinations to throw at opposing defenses on the ground, a major key to the Indians’ success.

“That’s where it all starts,” McNabb said. “If you can’t run the ball and you can’t stop the run, it really doesn’t matter what you have, you’re going to struggle. The ability to run the football is going to be a huge part of our offense.”

Photo Credit: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Scappoose senior running back Johnny Tardiff fights through a tackle during a team scrimmage on Aug. 23. Tardiff is likely to be one of the team's featured backs in an offense based on the running game.
Scappoose will have to recover from losing Kenny Klippel on the offensive and defensive lines, but McNabb said there have been several big names to step up, along with returning starters Matt Bennett at center, now tipping the scales at 240 pounds with a “money” snapping ability, and Devin Ray at guard.

They’ll also have a host of interchangeable pieces.

“They’re not real big offensive lineman-type guys that are going to move you, but our offense isn’t asking for that,” McNabb said. “We’re asking that we’ve got to be athletic, we’ve got to get downfield, you’ve got to be able to move your feet. Boogie Davis is another one. He’s a sophomore and he’s real raw, but he’s got an ability to play.”

The team chemistry, something the coaching staff constantly work to foster, has been exceptional this season, according to McNabb, who said it’s much more complicated than simply putting athletes on the field – the connections between the players are what makes the difference. The team has taken part in a handful of bonding activities, including team camp, and the results have been positive.

“I really like what I’m seeing because they truly enjoy being around each other,” McNabb said. “They do understand that they’ve got a small time in their lives to do this stuff, and you don’t want to look back and have regrets. I feel that, with the kind of chemistry that we have and the kind of camaraderie that we have, it’s amazing the things that we can accomplish.”

What they hope to accomplish is to take the league title back from Banks and finally knock off the Braves. They’ll host their rivals this season, and after having been shut out a year ago, McNabb said it’s high time they turn the tables.

“They’ve given us a great game, and they’ve had our number over seven of the last eight years. It’s a big game for them, and it is every year,” he said. “You can’t overlook Astoria, you can’t overlook Seaside, you can’t overlook Tillamook. Valley Catholic, shoot, they’ve won two or three state championships in other sports, so you know they have athletes there. It’s probably a matter of time before they have a real solid football program there, so it’s a dogfight each week and you’ve got to come ready to play.”

The Tribe will miss out on their annual preseason game against Central this year, but have a shot at Benson, Cascade and perennial contender Gladstone before the league schedule hits the gridiron. The Gladiators feature one of the best running backs in the state in Handsome Smith, which will be a difficult challenge for the defensive line right off the bat.

Scappoose will kick things off with a jamboree in St. Helens on Aug. 29 before starting the non-league schedule at home against Cascade on Sept. 5.