PILOT ROCK — Tyasin Burns has made a name for himself as a basketball player at Nixyaawii High School, helping the Golden Eagles to a Class 1A state title in March.
But before basketball season gets underway, the 5-foot-10, 160-pound junior is putting his talents to good use on the football field for Pilot Rock/Nixyaawii, where he has rushed for 1,254 yards and 12 touchdowns in four games.
“You get him out in the open one-on-one, he is pretty shifty,” Rockets coach Mike Baleztena said. “The way he sees the field is pretty awesome. (Linemen) Willie Sigo and Kade Koberstein give him room to run. He needs to buy them a sandwich, or something.”
Burns’ efforts have the Rockets sitting pretty atop the Blue Mountain Conference at 3-0, along with four-time defending state champion Dufur (3-2 overall).
The Rockets (4-0, 3-0 BMC), ranked No. 9 in the Class 1A poll, will put their perfect record on the line Friday when they host Union (2-2, 1-1) in a BMC showdown.
“They play good,” Baleztena said of the Bobcats. “They have a pretty decent team, and they are fast. They lost to Dufur by four, and they (Dufur) are a good team.”
Pilot Rock has outscored its opponents 220-48 this season, with Burns and quarterback Tanner Corwin leading the way. Corwin set a school record with five passing touchdowns in a win over Ione/Arlington the second week of the season.
Against Ione, Burns had season-high 343 yards rushing and 250 yards receiving, with a combined six touchdowns.
“Fullback Caden Thornton makes some awesome blocks for Tyasin to get around him,” Baleztena said.
Thornton, who is under concussion protocol for a second week, will miss Friday’s game, but Wyatt Stillman has played well in his absence.
While the Rockets pile up the points on offense, they are very stingy on defense, allowing just 12 points a game.
“Wyatt Stillman, Logan Weinke and Tyasin do a great job at linebacker,” Baleztena said. “They try and run up the middle, we have that stopped. We get Magi Moses (6-5, 315 pounds) back this week, and that gives us more size on the line. Our defense is pretty good.”
UMATILLA AT BURNS — The Vikings lost their first game of the season to Nyssa last week, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier as Umatilla takes on the Hilanders on Friday in Eastern Oregon League play.
Burns (5-0 overall, 1-0 EOL), ranked No. 7 in the Class 3A poll, has three shutouts to its credit this season, including a 60-0 victory over Irrigon last week.
The Hilanders, under veteran coach Terry Graham, have given up just 12 points this season.
The Vikings (4-1, 0-1), off to their best start in recent memory, have limited teams to less than 10 points a game, but they have struggled to score the past two games.
Umatilla beat Grant Union 6-0 two weeks ago, then dropped a 22-7 game to Nyssa.
STANFIELD AT GRANT UNION — The Tigers have dropped their past two games to the Prospectors, but Grant Union has had trouble scoring this season (average 14 points per game), and Stanfield’s defense has been rock solid.
The Tigers (3-1, 1-0 BMC) get good production from running back Enrique Arellano, who ran for 231 yards and three touchdowns last week against a good Weston-McEwen team.
MAC-HI AT KIONA-BENTON — The Pioneers, who are playing an independent schedule this season, hit the road to take on the Bears (4-1), who have won three games in a row.
Mac-Hi (1-4) is coming off a 41-12 loss to Henley last week.