BEND - Buckaroo football is off to a rocky start this year, and Pendleton coach Brice Gundlach said injuries to key players could continue to hamper his team.
"We're not where I'd like to be right now, that's for sure," Gundlach said.
The team travels to Summit on Friday to take on the Storm. The Bucks (0-2) need a victory to get on the winning track.
"Part of it is we're pretty banged up right now. We've got some key guys injured and we're young, and inexperienced trying to survive in this league."
Offensive linemen Joe and Justin Williams, along with tailback Shane Cooley, are all nursing injuries. Center Guy Hamm has been out two days this week. Gundlach said practices have been tough with four first-stringers out.
"It's tough to do the things we need to do to get better. We need to get better each day," he said.
He credited quarterback Trevor Patterson for rolling with the punches.
"(Patterson is) working through it, trying to get better."
He also praised the play of Tim Austin, Bobby Corey and Matt Gundlach.
Summit head coach Jerry Hackenbruck said his team's opener, a 14-11 loss to Redmond, has been a wake-up call for the Storm.
"I think our kids learned a lesson last week, and I hope we got a wake-up call and show up more ready to play. ... I'm hoping our renewed effort and better practices this week will pay off," Hackenbruck said.
Despite Pendleton's 0-2 record, he said his team isn't about to look past the Bucks.
"They scare me to be honest. I think they're a good football team that's maybe ready to break it out. It'll be a strap it on, dogfight kind of football game," he said.
Heading into the game against Summit, Gundlach said he'll look for his team to buck the stretches of inconsistent play and low energy that have so far plagued the Bucks.
"We need to be able to go out there and give 100 percent effort for four quarters and ... establish some consistency where we're playing hard, getting it done every down, putting series' together without breakdowns," he said.
A win at Summit would be a good start for a team that Gundlach said could still be playoff-caliber.
"If we get better every week, (we can) put ourselves in position to make a playoff run."