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Scappoose coach says Indians need to 'have fun, play hard' in rematch with Pendleton

PMG PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - Scappoose players gather as coach Sean McNabb talks after a victory at home.The Scappoose Indians hope the fourth time will be the charm.

They'll face the Pendleton Buckaroos at 7 p.m. Friday at Round-Up Stadium in the fourth meeting between the teams over just the past two seasons.

Pendleton is 3-0 against the Indians.

"We're starting to get in quite the rivalry," Scappoose coach Sean McNabb said.

The teams met Sept. 27 at Pendleton's big rodeo/football stadium, and the Bucks rode off with a 32-14 victory.

"We didn't play well," McNabb said. "We didn't tackle well or run well or throw very well."

Last year, with Scappoose up into the Class 5A ranks for the first time, the teams also played during the regular season, with Pendleton winning at Scappoose 47-27. And then they were matched up again in the 5A quarterfinals, and the Buckaroos prevailed at home 21-14.

Pendleton is 5-2 overall this season. The Buckaroos are ranked seventh in 5A by both the Oregon School Activities Association and the coaches.

Scappoose is 6-2 and is ranked eighth by the OSAA and 101th by the coaches.

Both teams finished second in their division of Special District 1. Pendleton lost 30-19 at home to Parkrose on Oct. 18, and the Broncos earned the top spot in the East Division. Pendleton had a bye last week. Scappoose fell 50-14 at Wilsonville on Oct. 10 in what turned out to be the game that decided first place in the West Division.

The Parkrose victory over Pendleton came as a surprise to those who hadn't seen the Broncos or followed their progress.

But it probably said more about Parkrose's rise under coach Keanon Lowe than it did any slippage or problems in Buckaroo Land. The Broncos came back last week with their fifth win in a row, downing La Salle Prep 41-16.

"Parkrose played them pretty physical, and capitalized on a lot of Pendleton's mistakes," McNabb said. "Parkrose has some really good athletes and has gotten a lot better since Week 1."

The Parkrose-Pendleton game was relatively close, with the Buckaroos leading twice in the first half and trailing only 22-19 at intermission — and that due in part to a kickoff return for a touchdown by the speedy Broncos.

Scappoose will make the trek to Pendleton on Friday, per usual. The Indians are planning to stop in Hermiston so they can get off the bus for a bit and stay limber.

The game is on the unusual side as well in that it doesn't count in the league standings and because both teams already are assured of advancing to the OSAA's 16-team 5A playoffs.

But the outcome will count in the OSAA computer rankings, which determine playoff field seeding and who gets to play at home.

At No. 8 on the OSAA list, the Indians are on the bubble for hosting a first-round game on Nov. 8. North Bend, the team Scappoose beat at Scappoose in last year's first round, is ranked No. 9 by the OSAA going into a Friday night game at Willamette, which is No. 14. Parkrose, which is No. 13, goes to Wilsonville to face the fifth-ranked Wildcats.

When Scappoose played in Pendleton in September, the Indians were without senior running back Josh Rice. He's returned for the last two games and given the Tribe added oomph in the run game, especially in getting tough yards up the middle.

"He's a difference-making running back," McNabb said. "He runs hard, has really good instincts."

Rice is a transfer from Vernonia.

"He's fit in really well," McNabb said. "He's a good leader. Leads by example. His teammates really look up to him."

Friday night's game will be the biggest stage Rice has played on, "but handles those things well. He doesn't let that kind of stuff bother him," McNabb said.

Handling the moment and the atmosphere, let alone a chilly, perhaps freezing, night in Eastern Oregon will be key for the Indians.

"Pendleton's still a good team," McNabb said."They run the ball a lot more than when we played them, but they have really good athletes, too, and move the chains.

"I just feel like our kids weren't real confident going into that last game. Part of that confidence piece is just being prepared, so I've got to do a good job getting them ready.

"We need to play well. The two pretty good teams we've played this year (Pendleton and Wilsonville) we didn't play well against. They took care of business, and we didn't.

"We've just got to have fun and play hard on Friday. Just got to let it rip and be aggressive. We didn't play aggressive last time.

"We've got to get 11 hats on the ball, which we didn't do last time, and win one-on-one battles."

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