Here we go again
Here we go again.
For the third time in seven weeks, and for the fifth time in 13 1/2 months, the Scappoose Indians and Pendleton Buckaroos will meet on the football field.
They collided twice last year, including in the Oregon School Activities Association quarterfinals.
On Friday night, they'll go head-to-head in a Class 5A first-round game. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Round-Up Stadium in Pendleton.
Forget all those other state highway projects — just build a high-speed train between Scappoose and Pendleton.
The two teams played only seven days ago, also at Round-Up Stadium. Pendleton won that district crossover game 41-21.
The Indians thought that result, or basically any result, would have resulted in a different first-round matchup.
"I was shocked," Scappoose coach Sean McNabb said of who the Indians drew to open the postseason.
Going into last week's game, Pendleton was ranked seventh in 5A by the OSAA, and Scappoose was ranked eighth.
"I felt like if we won we probably would flip places with them and if we lost we might drop one or two spots," McNabb said.
Instead, Pendleton jumped to fifth while Scappoose plummeted to 13th — quite a swing for both teams, especially given they were side by side the week before.
Ordinarily, playoff pairings pit No. 1 vs. No. 16, No. 2 vs. No. 15, No. 3 vs. No. 14, and so on and so forth. That would have put No. 5 Pendleton against No. 12 La Salle Prep in round one, and No. 13 Scappoose versus No. 4 Silverton.
But now Scappoose is No. 12 and La Salle Prep No. 13, per OSAA rule.
How did that happen?
Pendleton, La Salle Prep and Scappoose all are in 5A Special District 1 for football. Scappoose is in the West Division, and Pendleton and La Salle Prep are in the East. But the OSAA considers each division to be a separate league, and its rule is that teams from the same league -- er, division, in this case -- cannot meet in the first round.
So, even though Scappoose already has played Pendleton twice, whereas La Salle Prep has played Pendleton only once, the OSAA decreed that Pendleton and La Salle Prep could not play each other in the first round.
So the OSAA swapped La Salle Prep and Scappoose for seeding purposes, moving the Indians ahead of the Falcons -- ruling that Scappoose and Pendleton are in separate leagues, even though they are in the same district, for football.
Got all that?
Hence, here we go again.
"I never saw this coming," McNabb said.
McNabb said he and the Indians are fine with the switch — even while acknowledging that Pendleton is 4-0 against his club the past two years.
For one thing, going to Silverton would have been no day in the park. The Foxes are perennial contenders and are 8-1 this season, with 38.7 points scored per game and only 12.9 allowed.
The reaction to having to make another trip to Pendleton comes more from the knowledge that in days gone by, the state playoffs were more about getting to play a new opponent or a team from another part of Oregon and from a different league.
Not so anymore.
There are advantages for Scappoose in having drawn Pendleton. The Indians have been there before. They've made that trek, dressed in that locker room, played on that field and before those fans. They know the Buckaroos' personnel.
But also vice versa.
"Those kids are pretty familiar with one another by now," McNabb said.
So there probably will be few surprises in game-planning and play-calling on Friday night. About all you can do, McNabb said, is window-dress some plays, "just give a different look, run the same plays out of a different formation or motion."
Last year, during the regular season, Pendleton won 47-27 at Scappoose, then 21-14 at Pendleton in the playoffs.
This year, Pendleton has been at home for both games, winning 32-14 on Sept. 27 and 41-21 last week.
The most-recent game was a league (district) crossover matchup determined by the final standings — as both teams finished second in their division, Pendleton behind Parkrose, and Scappoose behind Wilsonville.
As has been the case in all four meetings, the Indians played Pendleton well last week, at times and in stretches. Scappoose drove for a touchdown on a run by senior quarterback Jakobi Kessi on its first possession.
But the Buckaroos went on to control the ball most of the night, and had a big edge in the pass game, throwing for 237 yards to Scappoose's 68 (3 of 14). The Indians hurt themselves, too, with an interception on a reverse pass attempt and a fumble. They trailed 21-14 at the half, then gave up a long touchdown drive to Pendleton to start the third quarter.
And, along the way, the game got a bit testy and frustrating, and Scappoose lost one of its top linemen, junior Cutter Sandstrom, to a disputed ejection. The Indians planned to appeal that decision in hopes of getting him back for Friday's game, but if he is not allowed to compete, it's likely that senior Jackson Lehman would take his place.
Scappoose senior running back Josh Rice scored two touchdowns on short runs in last Friday's game, but with Pendleton's offense converting regular for first downs and the Indians falling behind, Rice was able to carry only 10 times, for 45 yards (and fellow running back Deacon Smith gained 56 yards on 10 carries). Both are back to near full-speed after dealing with injuries; Rice also had a catch for 21 yards.
"We ran better, but we've got to get Josh the ball 18 to 20 times a game," McNabb said. "And we didn't throw the ball very well at all. It's a bit of a matchup issue — their defensive backs have been handling our wide receivers. But I know our wide receivers can get it done, and I know Jakobi can, too. We've just got to hit opportunities and win one-on-one matchups. The coaching staff has to do a great job of countering some of the stuff Pendleton is doing."
Another highlight from last Friday was the Scappoose defense rising up for a goal-line stand at the end of the first half.
"We had to fight like hell to do that," McNabb said.
This week's playoff game will be a test mentally as well as physically for Scappoose.
McNabb was asked how the Indians can approach going into a game against an opponent that is 4-0 against them in such a short span.
"You've just got to believe," he said. "We've got to get everybody playing hard for a long period of time. Most of our guys are competing, but in some areas we're not getting it done well enough. And these seniors have to take a look at how we want to be remembered — as a group that battled and fought hard to the end.
An upset would not be unprecedented. Last year, Thurston lost twice to Churchill, then beat the Lancers by one point in the 5A quarterfinals — and went on to defeat Wilsonville by three points in the state championship game.
The Buckaroos "are beatable," McNabb said, "but they do have some matchups that give us problems.
"But what an opportunity for us, to go over there and get a win."
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