PENDLETON — At the beginning of the season, the Pendleton Buckaroos found themselves without a week nine opponent.
The Portland-based Benson Techmen, who the Bucks were slated to face at the end of the regular season, canceled their program for the year due to lack of participation, leaving Pendleton with an open spot in its schedule.
“They didn’t have the numbers to safely participate in a varsity schedule,” Pendleton head coach Erik Davis said of Benson. “That could mean a couple of things. Either they truly didn’t have enough players, or they just had too many freshmen and sophomores in their lineup. They chose to drop their program in the hopes that they can get more kids over the offseason. It worked out well for us. It allowed us to heal up a little.”
And after weeks of trying to get that spot filled, Pendleton has officially found their replacement in a familiar face:
The Bucks will host the Indians for the second time this season in a nonleague matchup on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Round-Up Arena.
On Sept. 27, the Bucks handily defeated the Indians 32-14. Coach Davis expects to see much of the same from Scappoose for the Friday night rematch, which includes many similarities with the Bucks themselves.
“They have the same concept as we do in our quarterback system,” Davis said. “We’ve run a two-quarterback system all year. Scappoose’s senior quarterback (Jakobi Kessi) has a really good grasp on their offense. Their sophomore QB (Luke McNabb) throws the ball really well. I expect to see them both on Friday. We have to prepare ourselves to see two different quarterbacks each bringing something different to the table.”
The Bucks (5-2, 4-1 IMC) are coming off a 30-19 loss to Parkrose, who would go on to be crowned the 5A Special District 1 East’s No. 1 team. Pendleton, the No. 2 team in the East, was assigned Friday night’s Scappoose matchup because the Indians hold the No. 2 spot in the West standings.
Although Pendleton’s conference ranking automatically earned them a trip to the state tournament, Friday night’s contest will determine who the Bucks will face in the first round, and where it will be played.
“It’s very important for us to stay in the top six or seven and get that home game,” Davis said.
Davis said the team has been braving the cold all week to stay tuned up and ready for their rematch against the Indians.
“Our kids have practiced really well this late into the season,” he said. “It’s been pretty cold. We knew we had to go out there and be efficient. They had some high-energy practices this week.”
The Bucks will challenge the Indians once again to close out the regular season before moving forth into playoff territory.
“They’re big up front,” Davis said of Scappoose. “Our offensive and defensive lines have to continue to try and wear those guys down a little bit. We have to keep a high pace. For us to be successful, we’re going to have to run the football real effectively.”