Wheeler County boys back in state championship
The Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler County Rattlers have reached the Class 1A six-man state football championships for the second consecutive year.
The Rattlers will play Triangle Lake in a rematch of last year's state championship, which was won by Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler County 30-0.
After falling to Joseph 34-33 in early October, the Rattlers have won their last four games, while Triangle Lake is 10-0 entering the final, which will be held at Caldera High School in Bend on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Rattlers reached the championship by defeating Siletz Valley 60-12 in the quarterfinals, then rolling past No. 1-seeded Powers 55-19 in Wilsonville this past Saturday. Meanwhile, Triangle Lake whipped Prairie City/Burnt River 52-28 in the quarterfinals, then defeated South Wasco County 46-20 at Wilsonville in the semifinals.
The two teams have very similar statistics for the year. Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler County has scored 502 points so far this season while giving up 140. Meanwhile, Triangle Lake has scored 551 points on the season while giving up 119.
The two teams also have similar stats against common opponents. Triangle Lake defeated Siletz Valley 56-6, Prairie City/Burnt River 52-28 and South Wasco County 46-20, while Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler County whipped Siletz Valley 60-12, Prairie City/Burnt River 34-18 and South Wasco County 43-20.
If the Rattlers have an advantage in this year's final it is team depth and experience. Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler County has 23 players on their roster to just 16 players for Triangle Lake. Although both teams have four seniors, the Rattlers have 11 juniors to just three juniors for Triangle Lake.
Players to watch for for Wheeler County are Nate Clark and Carter Boise, who both play running back and quarterback. Logan Sweeney, Tommy bunch, Zach Neuburger and Oran Davis should also play significant rolls for the Rattlers.
In other high school football playoff news of local interest, the 4A Special District 5 champ and runner-up, La Grande and Pendleton, faced off in a quarterfinal Friday with the homestanding Tigers winning 28-13.
Henley, the squad which beat Crook County on Nov. 4 47-23, lost a heartbreaker at home to Estacada 17-16. La Grande will play Tillamook in one semifinal at Barlow High School on Friday, and Estacada and Scappoose will square off in the other, at Hillsboro Stadium.
In 5A action, Bend and Summit continued to roll. Bend, seeded third, beat South Albany 40-0 Friday while top-seed Summit hammered Central 35-7. Summit will play fourth-seed Thurston at Willamette University Friday in one semifinal while Bend will battle second-seed Wilsonville at Barlow High School Friday in the other semifinal.
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