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Cougars get rare rematch vs. Vikings after tough road tests at Kennedy, Sheridan

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Gervais senior Xadan Ramon looks for a seam up the middle against the Colton Vikings on Friday.In high school football, teams don't often get second chances against opponents.

However, after falling 30-14 to the Colton Vikings on Friday, the Gervais Cougars have a rare opportunity coming up.

It was the third consecutive loss for the Cougars (2-3, 0-3 Special District 2), and one that could have gone the other way, if not for some lapses in play in the fourth quarter.

"Colton was a winnable game," Gervais head coach Tracy Jackson said. "The game was extremely competitive. I was very encouraged by it, and we want to point them to remember the good things that they're doing."

The two teams entered halftime tied at 8-8 and traded touchdowns on their first possessions of the third quarter. Gervais failed to convert their two-point attempt and was down 16-14 entering the fourth quarter before the Vikings scored a pair of touchdowns to seal the victory.

It was the kind of hard lesson that the Cougars are learning after opening the season 2-0 and No. 5 in the early OSAA rankings.

"We've got a lot of growing to do," Jackson said. "We did back then too, and I'm thankful we got those first two wins, but we have a lot of growing to do in different areas."

Jackson pointed to open-field tackling, taking the proper angles, and positioning on defense as the culprits that put away the road game on Friday. Despite the strong start to the season, the Cougars are a largely inexperienced squad, and growing pains were always going to be part of the 2019 equation.

"I think we learned, and we're growing, but we've got to improve," Jackson said. "We've got to keep working to get better."

Fortunately for Gervais, they have a direct opportunity to measure that improvement in the coming weeks. Due to league opponent Chemawa dropping down to JV mid-season, the Cougars are left without a homecoming opponent on Oct. 25.

With few options available, the Vikings stepped forward and opted to play the Cougars in a rematch, this time at Gervais High School. The contest won't count toward the league schedule, but it will be an excellent way for Gervais to see how much they've grown over the final month of the season before taking on Colton again.

"It'll be a very good measuring stick, and it'll be our homecoming," Jackson said. "Colton was gracious enough to give us another game so our seniors could have a homecoming and senior night."

But between then and now, Gervais has a tough road ahead. The No. 4 Kennedy (4-1, 3-0 SD2) Trojans and defending have won four straight and loom ahead on Thursday, and after that, the Cougars will travel to Sheridan (2-2, 1-1 SD2).

Jackson knows both opponents will be a tough test for the Cougars, but he's less concerned about the outcome and more interested in seeing how his team is willing to meet the challenge ahead.

"Win or lose, if you lose, it doesn't make you a loser," Jackson said. "Not playing, not trying, that's what makes you a loser. That's the foundation we're building. Once our skills start really improving, we have that foundation in place where the team's heads are pointed in the right direction and thinking like winning teams."


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