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Scappoose football coach McNabb hopes his team minimizes mistakes in season opener

PMG FILE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Senior Jakobi Kessi returns as the starting quarterback for Scappoose High, which will open its 2019 football season Friday at Astoria.Scappoose High football coach Sean McNabb is a realist, but he's also an optimistic.

And he sees no reason why the Indians can't come out sharp in their first game of the 2019 season.

The game is 7 p.m. Friday at Astoria.

Opening games are notorious for some degree of sloppiness, for penalties or other miscues.

But McNabb is hopeful the Indians will keep all of the above to a minimum.

"I don't look at it like it's early in the season so we're going to make mistakes," he said. "The goal is no mental mistakes. That's our focus in practice this week.

"I want to see us come out and execute from the get-go — tackle well, pursue the ball well on defense, execute offensively, get first downs and finish drives, finish in the red zone, and have a big special-teams play like a block or a long return."

He doesn't think that's too much to ask from a team and program that has established itself over the years as one of the best in the state at its level.

"You're not going to be perfect, but the key is you have to be a stud on the next play. Shake it off if you do make a mistake, and get up and go."

Astoria and Scappoose, former longtime rivals in Class 4A, will be meeting for the second year in a row as 5A nonleague opponents.

The Indians made their 5A debut last year and got to the state quarterfinals before finishing 8-3. Scappoose's only losses came to Pendleton (twice) and to state finalist Wilsonville, which did not lose a league game.

Astoria, still in the 4A Cowapa League, went 4-5 in 2018, with a 3-2 league record and No. 12 Oregon School Activities Association ranking at that classification.

On Aug. 31, 2018, Astoria played at Scappoose in the season opener for both clubs, and the Indians prevailed 27-0.

McNabb said Scappoose enjoys retaining the competition with the Fishermen.

"We like keeping the rivalry going, at least for a while," he said. "We've always had a good relationship with their staff and kids. We like playing them, and they like playing us."

The Indians started their game-like tuneup week last Friday with an intrasquad scrimmage. McNabb split up the squads, both varsity and freshman/sophomore.

"I thought it went well and gave us an opportunity to see some guys who hadn't had as many reps as the starters," he said.

And maybe some bugs got worked out with even that minimal live action.

Scappoose's list of returning varsity players this season includes quarterback Jakobi Kessi. Sophomore QB Luke McNabb provides a potential different look as the backup, and Coach McNabb said he expects to use both signal-callers at Astoria.

"They do things a little different, but both do things well, and so we'll have a game plan built around what they each can do," Coach McNabb said.

The Indians will go into the season with 23 seniors on the roster: Braedon Adler, Ben Anicker, Jerico Archer, Jese Blundell, Blake Carlascio, Colton Frates, Riley Gibson, Thomas Greiner, Bobby Guajardo, Connor Havlik, Cole Hill, Trevor Jackson, Jakobi Kessi, Drake Kramer, Ryan Lamma, Jackson Lehman, Connor Maclachlan, Tommy McKedy, Blake Morkert, Kawika Napaa, Andrew Padilla, Blake Sailer and Slater Smiens.

Wilsonville and Pendleton are the division favorites in 5A Special District 1. In the preseason state coaches poll, Wilsonville was ranked second behind defending 5A champion Thurston, and Pendleton was ranked eighth, one spot ahead of Scappoose. North Bend, which lost to the Indians 20-14 in a first-round state playoff game at Scappoose last year, was ranked 10th.

The Indians will play host to Pendleton on Sept. 21 and be at home against Wilsonville on Oct. 5, with the Sept. 28 home game against St. Helens in between.

"Wilsonville's always going to be good. They're always going to have athletes.They had a real good freshman-sophomore team last year," McNabb said. "Pendleton lost a lot of good players, but they have a lot of tradition and good players, and the one quarterback who is coming back of the two they used last year throws the ball well."

Elsewhere in the Special District 1 West Division, Scappoose will face league foes Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Wilson and Cleveland.

"Hillsboro has that 6-6 tight end (Nate Smith), who is one of the best players in the state," McNabb said. "Forest Grove graduated a couple of real good kids. Wilson and Cleveland, it will take time for them to really get it going."

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