The first round of the OSAA football state playoffs begin Friday night all across the state. Here’s a look at the local Class 1A and 2A match ups, first with Friday’s games:
STANFIELD (2-5) at MONROE/TRIANGLE LAKE (7-1), 7 P.M. — Stanfield enters the playoffs in a very different position than it did last year. The Tigers ended their 2016 regular season with an 8-1 record to earn a No. 1 seed, and made it all the way to the 2A state championship game where they eventually lost to Regis, 53-14.
This time around, Stanfield has had one of its worst seasons in the last decade as the Tigers showed their youth and inexperience at times and got handed the No. 15 seed. However, head coach Davy Salas says the Tigers’ record doesn’t show the improvement the young squad has made over the last nine weeks.
“Our record doesn’t indicate the progress we’ve made all season,” Salas said. “From a coach’s perspective we’ve played some tough teams, had a tough schedule. The kids have made a lot of progress, and definitely earned this playoff spot.”
Salas knew there would be growing pains entering this season, but is glad the Tigers rose to the occasion and will have a chance to avenge their Week 9 loss Friday.
Stanfield will travel to Monroe to take on the Monroe Dragons. The two teams faced each other to wrap up their respective regular seasons on Oct. 27, with Monroe handing Stanfield a 55-27 loss on its own turf.
“It could be a good thing, or it could be a bad thing,” Salas said of the rematch. “Both teams are familiar with each other after last week. We’re just going to try to get better at what we do, be aggressive on defense and bring a little more energy.”
The Tigers will need that energy when facing Monroe on its home turf. The Dragons are riding a six-game winning streak, defeating its opponents by a combined 157 points.
Stanfield will rely on senior Adrian Renner to establish the running game, which has been a staple in the Tigers’ offensive attack. Renner has taken off this year, Salas said, and will have a big role in keeping Monroe’s offense off the field.
“We didn’t give ourselves the best position in playoffs,” Salas added. but we’re going to go out there and make the most of it.”
ECHO (7-2) at FALLS CITY (7-1), 7 p.m. — The Echo Cougars are hoping to accomplish a feat they haven’t been able to since first joining Class 1A in 2000, and that’s advancing to the quarterfinals.
The Cougars will get their chance at Falls City on Friday. Echo enters Round 1 of the 1A state championships as the No. 11 seed, and have been pitted against a tough opponent in No. 6 Falls City. The Mountaineers have been near perfect all season, as their lone loss came in Week 1 against Dufur, the defending state champion. After that 50-12 defeat, Falls City never looked back.
The Mountaineers record includes three shutout out wins, two of which where by 58 points and 60 points, and an 84-32 win against Yoncalla in Week 6. But Echo is no stranger to grand success this season, either.
Echo enters the match up coming off a 70-14 win over Harper Charter, and have defeated two other teams that have made the playoffs — a 34-20 win over Arlington/Condon to open the season and a close 36-24 victory against Cove in Week 8.
The Cougars haven’t had a back-to-back playoff appearance since the 2008 and 2009 seasons. A win in Round 1 will put Echo against either Cover or Camas Valley.
HEPPNER (5-3 overall) at NEAH-KAH-NIE (7-1 overall), 1 p.m. — Heppner will begin its postseason run Saturday, when it hosts the No. 9 seeded Neah-Kah-Nie Pirates. The Mustangs earned the No. 8 seed after an impressive run late in the season.
Heppner opened the year with three consecutive losses, but was finally able to turn the tide a week before league play opened with a 46-6 win over Toledo. The Mustangs only allowed 64 points against league opponents, while winning by a margin of 144 points on their way to a 5-3 overall record.
The offensive efforts have be led by senior Coby Dougherty, who has 931 all-purpose yards on the season. Dougherty has shared the back field with freshman quarterback Jayden Wilson, who has completed 44 percent of his passes for 709 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Dougherty’s favorite target has been another senior, Beau Wolters, who has 20 receptions for 382 yards and six touchdowns, and he’s the only Mustang to eclipse 100 receiving yards. But there’s no question that Heppner has favored the run, and setting it up early will be the key against a team that has only given up 111 points all season.
Heppner is no stranger to postseason play, as this is its 20th consecutive year making the playoffs. In 2015, the Mustangs took home the state title in what was only their third championship game appearance.
To get back there, Heppner must contain an opponent who has also been successful toward to end of the season.
Neah-Kah-Nie will be coming to Heppner on a three-game winning streak, shutting out one opponent in the process (a 58-0 win over Gaston in Week 6).
Heppner’s defense has had strong outings from defensive linemen Jason Rea and Wyatt Steagall. Rea has racked up 47 total tackles with Steagall trailing at 44 on the season.
Dougherty, who is dominated on both sides of the ball, is an asset at the heart of the defense. In his linebacker role, he’s recorded 32 total tackles and one sack.
The game will be held at Les Payne Field at the Morrow County Fairgrounds.
ARLINGTON/CONDON (5-4) at CRANE (7-1), 1 p.m. — Arlington/Condon hasn’t had much success in the playoffs. In its first appearance last season the Honkers lost to Days Creek, 56-12. Now, they are hoping to turn that around when they make the nearly five hour trip down to Crane on Saturday.
But a win against the Mustangs will be hard fought. Crane, the 2016 state runners-up in each of the past two seasons, has only one loss this season, and that came in the season opening game against Hosanna Christian.
Since Week 1, the Mustangs have been on a roll. They have blow out their opponents with the biggest win in Week 4, a 102-12 victory over Huntington.
While Crane breezed through its schedule, Arlington has struggled as of late.
The Honkers were riding a five-game winning streak, which including three consecutive shutouts by 57 or more points. But that quickly ended in Week 7 when a loss to Dufur sparking a three-game skid to end the regular season.
If the No. 13 seeded Honkers can upset the No. 4 seeded Mustangs, they will play either North Douglas or Hosanna Christian in the quarterfinals.