The deeper you get in the playoffs, the tougher the competition gets.
Pendleton will strap on the pads Friday against Scappoose in the 5A quarterfinals at the Round-Up Grounds.
If the opponent sounds familiar, it should. The Bucks (9-1) beat the Indians (8-2) 47-27 in a nonleague game on Sept. 21. But don’t let that victory give you false hope.
“It is hard to beat a good team twice,” Pendleton coach Erik Davis said. “We turned the ball over four times in the first half last time. Scappoose has a tremendous winning tradition. We are in for a dog fight.”
Indians coach Sean McNabb said his team is excited to play Pendleton again.
“We are excited to play at the historic Round-Up Grounds,” McNabb said. “I don’t think we were as confident as we should have been the first time we played them. We ended up jumping out to a 13- or 14-point lead at the beginning. They have a lot of good athletes with a lot of speed.”
Scappoose likes to the run the ball, and has a pretty lethal three-headed monster working out of the backfield.
Senior Connor McNabb (6-0, 190) has run for more than 1,300 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has nearly 2,300 all-purpose yards for the Indians.
Fellow seniors Quincy Cleveland (6-1, 235) and Matt Roth (6-1, 220) have chewed up their fair share of yards this season, and junior quarterback Jakobi Kessi (6-0, 200) likes to take off and run, as well.
“Running the ball is our strength,” Coach McNabb said. “We have three good backs, and most of our offensive line is intact from the year before. When you run the football, you can put yourself in position to win games. We do have to be able to throw the ball better than we did last time.”
Davis said the Bucks will be ready for whatever the Indians throw at them.
“They will pound the ball at you, and I think they will try to throw more than they did in Week 4,” Davis said. “We have to give them some different looks on defense.”
Special teams also have played a big part for the Bucks. They blocked two punts and returned them for touchdowns last week against Crescent Valley.
The Bucks are balanced offensively with Aiden Patterson and Shawn Yeager coming out of the backfield, and quarterback Trent Sorey putting the ball in the air.
“Our defense is playing extremely well right now, and if we take care of the football, we will be OK,” Davis said. “We are a complete team, where other aspects can pick up where others lack.”
Another key for the Bucks is their team chemistry. Most of the seniors have played together since the seventh grade.
“This senior class has played with each other for a really long time,” lineman Everett Willard said. “We are tight-knit and play as a family. That has shown on the field all year.”
Bucks in the playoffs
Pendleton’s first state playoff appearance came in 1954, and though they have made the playoffs plenty of times (43), trips past the first round are few and far between. The Bucks have never played for a state title, according to OSAA records.
Last Friday’s win over Crescent Valley marked the first playoff win for the Bucks since 2002 — a 27-21 overtime victory over Wilson in the first round. The Bucks then dropped a 21-2 game to Lake Oswego in the second round.
Pendleton did reach the second round in 2006, but they had a bye in the first round before bowing out to Dallas 48-20 in the second.
Friday’s game against Scappoose will be the Bucks’ first quarterfinal appearance since 2001, where they lost to Sheldon 35-14.
The last semifinal game for the Bucks was back in 1977 — a 13-7 loss to Medford.