GOING FOR GOLD: Scappoose boys' soccer will shoot for first Cowapa League championship in three years
The Class 4A state play-in rounder Indians are intent on laying siege to rival goals, and semifinalist Brookings is next in the line of fire.
The Tribe (1-0 overall) is scheduled to meet the Bruins at noon on Saturday at Pleasant Hill High School, 96 miles closer to Scappoose than to Brookings, which has to drive down to Highway 199 in California and northward to Interstate 5.
If all goes well, the defense -- which tied runner-up Madras for the state's fifth-fewest goals allowed last year (17, better than the 25 allowed when the Indians won the Cowapa League in 2014) -- will spring the spread offense to a win.
"This year we have so much talent it's awesome," said Austin Schwalge, an Indians forward and one of three seniors with forward Robby Walsh and all-league midfielder Caden Verzino. "It's my senior year and I'm ready to prove that my team is the best team. We have a lot of chemistry together and all fit together very well like a puzzle. Not only are the guys willing to put in work at practice but also at home, too, which I love to see."
Defensive excellence shines in the Scappoose-Bruins series as they played to a scoreless tie last year on the same field after a 1-1 draw in 2015 and a 2-1 Brookings win at Cottage Grove High School in 2014.
If the Tribe can score three goals per game as it did in 2014, up from two last year, it will be in good shape to reach at least the play-in round for the fifth year in a row.
"We have a lot of attacking power, we've just got to figure out how to get them all on the field at the same time," Indians coach Scott Stanton said. "We have quick, wiry guys."
Ryan Ross (midfielder), Blake Peterson (defender) and Mikey Reed (goalkeeper) are juniors for the upbeat Scappoose side, and DJ Backus, Braedon Adler, Ashton Kaufman, Westin Gonrowski, Corbin Edson, Teegan Bond (midfielders), Brisyn Maller, Tyler Holcomb and Jake Boyle (defenders) are sophomores.
The Tribe doubled its scoring average to two goals last year, so this season could be another breakthrough.
The Indians beat St. Helens -- for which Indians junior forward Ocean Swint's cousin, senior forward Alex Ramos, is a striker -- 11-0 for their third Seven-Mile War win in a row on Wednesday at Scappoose Middle School's Chinook Field.
Play-in rounder Gladstone and all-Tri-Valley junior forward Mitchell Kuhn, junior midfielder Josiah Bitter and sophomore defender Derek Johnson will visit Scappoose Middle School's Chinook Field on Sept. 12 in the preseason finale.
"Our first home league game is Seaside [Sept. 20, with a road follow-up on Oct. 5] -- it's usually us and Seaside [in contention for the league title], so it'll set the tone for the season," Stanton said.
The Seagulls feature all-league talents Colton Carter (senior defender and co-Player of the Year), Rafi Sibony (senior midfielder) and Irving Peon (junior midfielder) in their return from the first round.
League champion Tillamook and Coach of the Year Brian Reynolds, junior midfielder Oscar Lozano and junior defender Oscar Valencia are set to host on Sept. 23 and visit on Oct. 10.
SEASON OUTLOOK: The Indians' youthful defense may make controlling the ball more difficult than in recent years and Astoria is the early favorite with eight seniors, but Seaside and Tillamook, with four and two projected seniors, will join Scappoose in chasing the Fishermen for the league title.
SCAPPOOSE AT BROOKINGS
Where: Pleasant Valley High School
When: Noon on Saturday
On the road: The Class 4A play-in qualifier Indians can beat the semifinalist Bruins for the first time in the four-year series
Coach: Scott Stanton (Sixth year)
Classification: Class 4A, Cowapa League
2016 finish: 6-4-4 overall, 4-3-1 Cowapa League (third in league, reached play-in round)
Returners: Austin Schwalge, sr., F; Robby Walsh, sr., F; Caden Verzino, sr., M; Ryan Ross, jr., M; Blake Peterson, jr., D; Michael Reed, jr., GK; DJ Backus, so., M
Newcomers: Ocean Swint, jr., F; Braedon Adler, so., M; Ashton Kaufman, so., M; Westin Gonrowski, so., M; Corbin Edson, so., M; Teegan Bond, so., M; Brisyn Maller, so., D; Tyler Holcomb, so., D; Jake Boyle, so., D
Sept. 2 Scappoose vs. Brookings, noon, at Pleasant Hill High School
Sept. 5 De La Salle North Catholic at Scappoose, 4:15 p.m., Chinook Field, Scappoose Middle School
Sept. 12 Gladstone at Scappoose, 4:15 p.m., Chinook Field, Scappoose Middle School
Sept. 20 Seaside at Scappoose, 4:15 p.m., Chinook Field, Scappoose Middle School *
Sept. 23 Scappoose at Tillamook, 2 p.m. *
Sept. 26 Scappoose at Banks, 4:15 p.m. *
Sept. 28 Valley Catholic at Scappoose, 4:15 p.m., Chinook Field, Scappoose Middle School *
Oct. 3 Scappoose at Astoria, 7:15 p.m. *
Oct. 5 Scappoose at Seaside, 7:15 p.m. *
Oct. 10 Tillamook at Scappoose, 4:15 p.m., Chinook Field, Scappoose Middle School *
Oct. 13 Banks at Scappoose, 4:15 p.m., Chinook Field, Scappoose Middle School *
Oct. 18 Scappoose at Valley Catholic, 7:15 p.m., in Beaverton *
Oct. 24 Astoria at Scappoose, 4:15 p.m., Chinook Field, Scappoose Middle School *
* - Cowapa League match