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Scappoose High preps to face Cleveland Warriors team that likes to grind it out

PMG PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - Quarterback Jakobi Kessi (right) is congratulated after scoring a touchdown against Wilson. The next step in Scappoose football's march to the state playoffs comes Friday night with a 7 p.m. home game against Cleveland.

The Indians figure to have the superior horses, but Scappoose coach Sean McNabb knows the ride isn't likely to be as easy as it was a week in a 48-13 victory over another Portland Interscholastic League team, Wilson.

That's because Cleveland has the potential to chew up some yards on the ground and keep the ball away from the Scappoose offense. Unless.

"We've got to play well, create turnovers and put pressure on their offense," McNabb said.

Cleveland went 1-8 in 2018 but is 3-3 this season, with wins of 31-14 at Franklin, 53-20 over Wilson and 35-20 against St. Helens.

"They're better than they were last year," McNabb said. "They're big up front. They have some good skill kids and one back (Finian Jamesbarry) who is leading the league in rushing. Their backs are downhill guys. It's going to be different from playing (pass-oriented) Wilson. It's going to be a battle.

"I like our matchup with our O-line and their D-line, but they have bodies. Our defense has got to create three-and-outs and get the ball back for our offense, and we've got to be explosive and put the ball in the end zone every time we touch it."

The Indians did pretty much that last week against Wilson — and that was important in a bounce-back week from a loss to Wilsonville.

"We needed to get some confidence back," McNabb said.

It helped to have senior running back Josh Rice back in uniform after missing three games with a dislocated right elbow.

Rice ran for two touchdowns, providing both a spark with his tough running and giving Scappoose's other backs the chance to alternate and come into the game fresh.

"Our running backs have done a really good job, but having Josh back changes our dynamic," McNabb said. "He's always running forward. You don't see him run lateral much, and when he does, he's really good at sticking his foot in the ground and getting vertical.

"He does a great job of accelerating out of his breaks. He's a fierce runner, and he's hard to tackle. And after a while, that defense gets a little worn down because they don't want to tackle him anymore.

"The offensive line really blocked well for him. Everybody was excited about having him back. He's one of those kids, just his presence makes people around him better. Our best leaders are not necessarily vocal leaders, but they're those guys that everybody wants to perform for."

The Indians are not in the 5A coaches' top 10 this week. They rank 13th in total votes. Wilsonville is fifth, Pendleton eighth and Parkrose 11th.

In the Oregon School Activities Association computer rankings, Wilsonville is No. 4, Pendleton No. 7, Scappoose No. 11, La Salle No. 12, Parkrose No. 15, Hillsboro No. 16 and Forest Grove No. 20 out of 35 Class 5A teams.

Scappoose is 4-1 in league and 5-2 overall. The Indians are likely to play the second-place finisher in the Special District East Division in the crossover round on Nov. 1 — probably Pendleton, though that has yet to be determined. In the East, Pendleton is 4-1 but has lost to Parkrose (3-1), and La Salle Prep also is 3-1. Parkrose plays host to La Salle Prep on Friday.

"We'd love to come out with another win and gain some momentum for the playoffs," Scappoose senior quarterback Jakobi Kessi said.

Cleveland is coming off a 42-14 loss to Hillsboro at Hare Field. The Warriors led 14-13 late in the first quarter before the Spartans ran off 29 consecutive points. Hil Hi QB Kane Kiaunis finished with 277 yards passing (18 of 26) for two touchdowns, and ran for two scores.

A year ago, it was all Scappoose when the teams battled in Southeast Portland. After failing to score the first time it had the ball, Scappoose's offense scored its next six possessions, three times in each half, and then-senior Connor McNabb returned the second-half kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown for good measure.

Still, the Warriors were able to control much of the clock in the first half, running 25 plays to 24 for Scappoose, and Cleveland scored on a 6-yard pass play with 34.1 seconds left to get within 14-7. The Indians struck back in a hurry, and Kessi ran seven yards for a TD with only 2.5 seconds on the clock, giving Scappoose a 21-7 advantage at the break.

Cleveland senior QB Logan Geiszler passed for three touchdowns, two to Demarkasay Davis, who also is back this year as a senior wide receiver and safety. That duo hooked up for scores of 29 and 66 yards. Cleveland finished with 149 yards rushing on 40 carries. Geiszler was 8 of 14 passing for 195 yards. The Indians totaled 193 yards rushing and 221 passing, with freshman Luke McNabb getting some backup action at quarterback and hitting a slant pass that went 70 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"Cleveland is a good running team, but we'll come out and play our game, and I'm confident in our defense," said Kessi, who also starts at safety.

"We're back on track," said junior wide receiver Logan Johnson, whose touchdown catch gave the Indians their first score last week. "Now we want to get some momentum going, get up early again, get our second-stringers in, and get ready for the playoffs."

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