Football: North Marion draws No. 1 Cottage Grove in first round
With the play-in round firmly in the rearview mirror, the North Marion football team finally has a clear look at who they will be playing in the first round of the state playoffs on Friday.
The Huskies (4-4, 4-1 Oregon West Conference) will make a trip down to Cottage Grove this week to play the No. 1 Lions (8-0, 5-0 Sky-Em League) in a rematch of the season opener for both teams.
The Huskies hosted the Lions just over two months ago and suffered a 56-0 defeat, the first of three straight losses to begin the season. North Marion turned things around in league play, and finished with four wins in its final five games to claim its second consecutive conference title.
It's a tough draw for North Marion, going up against last year's 4A state runner-up. The Lions have been unbeatable since losing 35-21 to North Bend in the 2016 state championship game. Boasting the state's top offense, Cottage Grove has steamrolled through the competition this year, with its closest contest coming in at a 15-point victory over No. 2 Scappoose Indians.
For the North Marion football team, winning a league championship hasn't held much water in the past two seasons when it comes to post season matches.
Last year's Huskies finished in a three-way tie with the Cascade Cougars and Stayton Eagles for first place in the Oregon West Conference, but because they were the lowest-ranked of the three, they didn't get the luxury of a play-in bye or even a home game.
This year, the Huskies received the bye by virtue of winning the conference outright. But due to their low placement in the OSAA ranking, they were the lowest seeded team in the 16-team tournament bracket.
Even the rival Cougars, who North Marion beat 10-0 to win the Oregon West title, earned a higher seeding in the final bracket after winning their play-in game to qualify for the first round.
The playoff game will begin at 7 p.m. at Cottage Grove High School and will be broadcast on KNND 1440 AM in Cottage Grove.
The winner will advance to the state quarterfinals to play either No. 8 Gladstone (5-3, 3-1 Tri-Valley Conference) or No. 9 Sweet Home (8-1, 4-1 Sky-Em) next week.