It might not seem fair that Pilot Rock/Nixyaawii has to face Adrian/Jordan Valley in the first round of the 1A state football playoffs.
The teams played just last week in a 1A Special District 3 crossover game, a 52-14 victory for the Antelopes.
“It’s a weird twist of fate,” Rockets coach Mike Baleztena said. “It just happens to be the way the rankings work. We were eighth, then we lost to Adrian, and Imbler upset Crane. That’s the way it goes.”
Friday’s first-round game will be played at noon at Adrian High School.
Baleztena said the Rockets (6-2) came out flat-footed last week against the Antelopes (6-3).
“The wheels fell off the bus and we were stuck in the mud,” he said. “We had eight turnovers, missed catches, missed handoffs, our punter missed two snaps and we had a touchdown called back. We also had a dropped pass two steps from the end zone. We absolutely did not play our normal game.”
Unless the bus fails to get over the mountain, Baleztena said Friday’s game will have a different look.
“This time, I think we will be a much more disciplined team,” he said. “I expect a much better game.”
The Rockets, who have lost their past two games, have had a productive offense this season, scoring an average of 37 points a game.
Junior Logan Weinke, last year’s quarterback, has moved to wide receiver, where he has been on the receiving end of 600 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also has run for four touchdowns and six 2-point conversions.
“He wanted to be quarterback again, but he is an exceptional receiver,” Baleztena said. “His speed is phenomenal and he runs the routes well.”
Sophomore Tanner Corwin took over at quarterback for the Rockets. He has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also has run for four touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Tyasin Burns has been a workhorse this season, He has run for more than 1,100 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also has 239 receiving yards and six 2-point conversions.
2A playoffs: Kennedy at Heppner
The Mustangs rule the roost in the Blue Mountain Conference, now it’s time to see if their dominance rolls over into the state playoffs.
Heppner (7-2) will host the Kennedy Trojans (7-2) at 7 p.m. Friday night.
“Kennedy is a very good team.” Heppner coach Greg Grant said. “Probably way better than their ranking (10th) indicates. They lost to the top two teams in the state (Santiam and Sheridan), in my opinion.”
The No. 7 Mustangs enter the game on a seven-game win streak after opening the season with losses to 3A Clatskanie and Santiam, which is in the opposite side of the bracket from Heppner.
The Trojans have won their past five games, the past two by a combined score of 109-6.
“We will have a good challenge on our hands Friday,” Grant said. “We are looking forward to it. Our kids are excited and I think our community is excited. It’s always nice to have a home playoff game.”