The Hermiston Bulldogs have settled into the Mid-Columbia Conference football scene quite nicely.
The Bulldogs are 2-0 after victories over Pasco and Richland. The Kennewick Lions (0-2) are up next, visiting Kennison Field on Friday.
“Kennewick is a few missed plays and a few missed tackles away from being 2-0,” Hermiston coach David Faaeteete said. “Kennewick is very explosive and very athletic. They are huge up front — bigger than us. We just have to do our job.”
The Lions are coming off a 27-26 loss to Chiawana last week, a game in which Ryan Lowry kicked a game-winning 35-yard field goal for the Riverhawks as time expired.
“I was very proud of our kids,” Lions coach Bill Templeton said. “We had a mental letdown, but it was mayhem until the end.”
Going into Friday’s game, the Bulldogs rank first in offense in the MCC with an average of 417 yards per game. The defense ranks third behind Kamiakin and Chiawana.
Individually, senior running back Wyatt Noland leads the league in rushing with 399 yards on 52 carries, while quarterback Andrew James ranks fourth in passing with 206 yards. He has thrown three touchdowns and one interception.
“That’s great, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean anything,” Faaeteete said. “We are just trying to be balanced. We try to design our offense to work with our group.”
Kennewick will have quarterback AJ Templeton back in the lineup after missing last week with a shoulder injury.
“We just wanted to be cautious last week,” coach Templeton said of his son.
While Faaeteete has his concerns about the Lions, he isn’t quite ready to give his team a passing grade.
“I like everything to be good all the time,” he said. “We need to finish blocks, run the gaps and throw to the right receiver. Attention to detail. I am a dot the i’s and cross the t’s kind of guy.”
Templeton knows his boys will be in for a battle.
“They are a well-coached team,” Templeton said. “Their front five are grinders. They are skilled. They move you and they are very good at making things go.”
Which helps make Noland and James very dangerous.
“He is a very talented kid,” Templeton said of Noland. “So is Andrew James. We have our work cut out for us.”
Bucks take perfect record on the road
Despite two tremendous wins so far this season — the season opener against La Grande (38-12) and a league debut against Hood River Valley (46-0) — the Pendleton Bucks are keeping a level head.
They’ll travel to Portland to face the Putnam Kingsmen on Friday, who have a 0-2 record, while Pendleton’s is 2-0.
“We played Putnam during the past two years,” said Pendleton head coach Erik Davis. “Two years ago, we got beat pretty handily. They play disciplined football. But last year, they came up here and we took care of business.”
The Bucks excelled in all phases on the field last Friday night — quarterback Trent Sorey threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns and the defense prevented Hood River Valley from scoring even once.
The team has spent the past week refining what they did well against Hood River. Coach Davis has noticed his team has been slow to start during this season’s first two games. He hopes to come out of the gate swinging on Friday.
“We’re not adding anything new,” Davis said. “We’re familiar with how Putnam coaches and how they work offensively.”
The Bucks’ goal this week is simple: Continue a winning streak.
“Our goal is 3-0,” Davis said. “It doesn’t matter what the score is, a win is a win, and every one of them is a confidence booster. Confidence helps with performance and speed. This team has lofty goals, but they also understand our immediate goals. It just comes down to coming out 3-0.”
In other leagues:
Irrigon at Liberty-Spangle (WA): The Knights (2-0) will put their perfect record on the line against a Liberty-Spangle team that is much better than its 0-2 record.
“They know how to play football up there,” Irrigon coach Ken Thompson said. “They are trying to find themselves after some kids graduated.”
The Knights have gotten good production from running back Lino Covarrubia (180 yards), while Caleb Adams is the main target at wide receiver for quarterback Keith Flemming, who also stars at linebacker.
“Our defense is pretty stout,” Thompson said.
Heppner vs. Lost River (in Bend): The 0-2 Mustangs are looking to enter the win column after early season losses to Clatskanie and Santiam.
Heppner will be looking for more good things from running back Mason Lehman, who ran for 108 yards and a touchdown last week against Santiam.
Umatilla at Stanfield: Two teams looking for their first win will match up in Stanfield.
“A win would go a long way in getting our program going in the right direction,” Tigers coach Davy Salas said. “We have gotten better each week, even if the scoreboard doesn’t show it. There is still work to do, that’s what preseason is for.”
Riverside at Seton Catholic (WA): The Pirates travel to Vancouver, Wash., for a 1 p.m. game Saturday.
Riverside (0-1) suffered a 48-6 loss to Portland Christian last week.
The Cougars (1-1) are coming off a 7-6 loss to Charles Wright, a game where a blocked 30-yard field goal and a slew of penalties cost them the game.
Baker at Mac-Hi: After losses against Madras and Tillamook, the Mac-Hi Pioneers hosts 1-1 Baker on Friday. This is the Pioneers’ first league game of the season.
Pilot Rock/Nixyaawii at Ione: Ione has lost both its games so far this season, against Powder Valley and Enterprise. Pilot Rock is currently undefeated with a 2-0 record after defeating Enterprise and last week’s shutout against Sherman.
Arlington/Condon at Sherman: Sherman is 0-2 for the season so far, while Arlington/Condon is 0-1 after a 56-0 loss at Dufur last week.