MILWAUKIE — After two back-to-back games at home, the Pendleton High School football team is ready to get back on the road.
On Friday, the Bucks (3-1, 2-0 IMC) head to Milwaukie for a 5A Special District 1 contest. Pendleton is coming in with a three-game streak, including two consecutive wins at home, the last of which — a 32-14 win over Scappoose — imbued the team with a sense of renewal.
“Scappoose was one of the bigger wins we’ve had as a program in quite some time,” Pendleton coach Erik Davis said. “I truly believe we were underdogs going into it. Last year, we were the favorites, but this year, Scappoose is pretty well known. We were the pregame underdogs. Our kids’ inexperience faded away.”
The Indians weren’t the only familiar faces the Bucks have reunited with this season, and it won’t be the last — the Mustangs, who will host on Friday, fell to the Bucks 56-0 last year. But coach Davis isn’t letting last year’s experience seep into this year’s playbook.
“We’ve moved forward from looking back as a team,” he said. “That’s been part of our process with this young group. It’s not fair to them. We’re really just focusing on this year and what’s ahead.”
For those who wish to reminisce, this Friday, it will have been almost a year to the day since the Mustangs have won a game. Milwaukie’s last victory was on Oct. 5, 2018, when they took down Benson 61-19.
Furthermore, the Mustangs haven’t had a playoff berth since 2005, where they lost 46-14 to North Medford in the first round. Milwaukie’s last playoff win came in 1991, where they defeated none other than the Pendleton Buckaroos 12-7 in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.
Milwaukie is 0-4 this season, and failed to score during last Friday’s 50-0 matchup with Parkrose.
“We want to make sure the kids don’t have a letdown week,” Davis said. “Coming off a big, emotional win, it can be easy to overlook an 0-4 team. In high school football, you can never overlook anybody.”
Meanwhile, the Bucks haven’t dropped a game since the season opener at La Grande, and Davis noted that the team is coming into its own.
“We’re definitely more balanced than we’ve been in the past,” he said. “We’ve had some success up front running the football.”
The Bucks have relied on its running abilities to put games away in recent weeks. The offense has combined for an average of 250 rushing yards each game for the past three games, and ran over 300 against Putnam two weeks ago.
“It makes it a lot easier on me when you’re able to just call a run play and be productive with it,” Davis said. “Any time you can run over 200 yards in a game, you’re doing OK.”
The Bucks have spent the past week polishing what’s worked well for them. Fans can expect to see plenty of cleats on the ground come Friday night in Milwaukie, but Davis also hopes to see the ball get some air.
“We definitely want to throw the football and see if we can’t establish a passing game as well,” he said. “We’ve had great practices this week. The kids are moving around well and having a good time. They’re loose and ready to go. We’re gonna go out with a good game.”
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Milwaukie.