PENDLETON - One team will buck its Intermountain Conference oh-fer Friday at the Round-Up Grounds. The other will have to try again next week.
Bend (0-2 IMC) will travel to Pendleton on Friday to face the Buckaroos (0-2 IMC, 0-3 overall) in a conference contest.
Lava Bears coach Craig Walker said he expects both teams will have the same agenda.
"I don't know a coach in America who doesn't want to win their ball game. They're 0-3, we're 0-2 ... I imagine there are two teams focusing on their first IMC win," Walker said.
For their part, the Bucks will do anything but play the gracious hosts.
"I'd like to see us come and put four quarters of solid football together - fewer mistakes, fewer penalties," Pendleton coach Brice Gundlach said.
The Bucks are coming off their worst defeat in recent memory last Friday, a 51-14 loss at Summit.
"We're all in this boat together - players, coaches, everybody. We're going to keep working our tails off, and we want them to keep working their tails off. ... We know we have the talent here to compete, and we just have to get it out," Gundlach said.
He said his team has worked this week on getting better play from the offensive and defensive lines. He added that it is particularly critical that the O-line play at an aggressive, fast pace.
"That's what sets the tempo of the game and determines whether you're going to move the ball and get first downs or not - control the line of scrimmage, and run the football," he said.
The team has been rocked by injuries and illness, which have prevented the Bucks from practicing at full strength. Last week, the team practiced without offensive linemen Joe Williams, Justin Williams and Guy Hamm and halfback Shane Cooley.
Justin Williams is likely done for the year, and Gundlach said he won't hesitate to call on younger players to step up when a veteran goes down with an injury.
Youth has been the M.O. for Bend this season. The team boasts 10 seniors - five of which start.
The Lava Bears lost 19-15 last week to Mountain View on a late touchdown and watched Hermiston come back to defeat them 31-24 on Sept. 10.
"We need to work on limiting our mistakes, hang on to the football and start playing consistent football," Walker said.
Turnovers and mental gaffs have proven costly to the Lava Bears, who have turned the ball over nine times in two games.
"You can't win when you have nine turnovers, I don't care who you're playing. We've had good production offensively, we've made some good defensive stands ... but we've put ourselves in a bad way with turnovers," Walker said.