Indians expect increased intensity as they battle La Salle Prep on Friday for 5A postseason position

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - Scappoose defensive players get ready for a snap in last weeks game at Cleveland. From left: Drake Kramer (3), Matt Roth (34), Slater Smiens (66), Ben Anicker (17), Robert Vanek (73), Robert Guajardo (70), Blake Carlascio (78) and Gavin Larson (88).A new journey is at hand for the Scappoose football, but the Indians are going into it with an old philosophy.

"We've got to take care of business," coach Sean McNabb says.

They'll do that, he adds, as they did for years in Class 4A.

The Indians, now at the 5A level, will play host to La Salle Prep at 7 p.m. Friday in a 5A Special District 1 league playoff games. Both teams finished second in their division, and both will be in the 16-team Oregon School Activities Association 5A playoffs that start on Nov. 2. But whoever wins on Friday will improve their seeding position in a tournament with first-round pairings based on OSAA rankings.

So, while it's not a loser-go-home game, it's important for down the road. And make no mistake, the Indians are hoping their first trip on the 5A playoff road is a long one.

"We're pumped up," Scappoose junior quarterback Jakobi Kessi says. "No one really gave us a chance to compete in this new league and in 5A, so we've had a chip on our shoulder all season. I'm really excited to get after it these next couple weeks and show people just how deep we can go."

The set-up is a bit different from what the Indians experienced as a successful 4A program.

"It's uncharted territory for us," Scappoose coach Sean McNabb says. "We're used to having a bye week before the playoffs, which we liked. You go into a round of 16. Every team we play, we don't know a whole lot about. But that's the great thing about it for us, too, because teams don't know a whole lot about us, either."

La Salle Prep clinched the No. 2 spot in the 5A Special District 1 East Division with a 27-14 victory last week at home against Parkrose. The Falcons are ranked 11th in the state. They are 6-2 overall and went 5-1 in league. They lost their season opener, 51-28, at home against Garfield of Seattle. Their other loss was 62-14 to Pendleton, which beat Scappoose, 47-27.

The Indians are sixth in the OSAA 5A rankings and have the same record as La Salle Prep (6-2, 5-1). Scappoose's other loss was to No. 1 Wilsonville, 41-20, on Oct. 5. The Indians have won two in a row since, both in Portland; they beat Wilson, 49-21, and then Cleveland, 50-21, last week.

The top eight teams in the 5A rankings after Friday will get to play at home on Nov. 3. That along makes Friday's league playoff matchups important, and McNabb says the Indians can't afford to approach the La Salle Prep game as merely a tune-up.

"We've got to win," he says. "We look at it as a serious deal. You're still going to go to the playoffs, but the attitude we have is, you lose, you're done."

The main thing he wants to see is the team making strides and going all out, full speed.

"We can't take any step backward. We've got to continue to push the pedal," he says. "We went into the week saying we've got to practice like our hair's on fire. We've got to come out and play our game, play fast.

"There are things we have to improve on. I know I say that every week. and you're never going to be perfect, but I don't think we're ever going to be totally satisfied.

"If you're satisfied, you're complacent. And you can't win games if you're complacent."

The coach says he thinks his club will be up for this next challenge.

"We haven't backed down to anyone, not even the top two teams in the state in Wilsonville and Pendleton. That's a good sign. It says a lot about our kids," he says.

Senior Connor McNabb, the team's touchdown leader and threat as a running back, receiver and kick returner, agrees that the players "are never satisfied. We want to be the best. At the end of the day, we want to pursue perfection and get as close as we can. So we're excited about the playoffs."

The Indians were sharp most of the way at Cleveland and especially when they needed to be, but that was more of a good workout for what's ahead.

"I didn't feel like we came out and played with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of intensity. That frustrated me a little bit," Coach McNabb says. "(We were giving up some stuff defensively, and offensively we weren't in a good rhythm till we got our (last-minute) touchdown drive at the end of the first half."

Showing more intensity shouldn't be a problem this Friday.

"We're pretty excited because we came into the season as an underdog and proved some people wrong," says junior wide receiver Colton Frates. "Now we want to keep getting after it."

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