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Cowboys gear up for powerhouse Marshfield

For its fourth and final non-league game of the season, the Crook County football team hosts Marshfield, one of the most successful football programs in the state over the past 11 years.
   The Pirates are famed for setting tantalizing records.
   They haven't missed the playoffs since 1990 and are on track to go again this year.
   From the final game in the 1993 season until a 46-13 loss two weeks ago against Churchill, Marshfield boasted an eight-year regular season home unbeaten streak.
   The Pirates once won 55 straight games until a 27-12 loss at Ashland Sept. 15, 2000, and were undefeated six seasons straight during that time. They brought home the state championship to Coos Bay in 1992, placed second in 1994 and finished either third or fourth in 1995, 1997 and 1999.
   This season the Pirates have shown vulnerability at times, but still find themselves in fourth place in the Midwestern Conference with an overall record of 4-2. The losses came at the hands of Churchill and against Willamette 21-20 Sept. 21, teams both ahead of Marshfield in league standings.
   The Cowboys (0-3 in Intermountain Conference play, 3-3 overall), who still have an outside shot at making the playoffs, will look to play old fashioned Crook County football in front of a home crowd for a chance to gain momentum into their final two games of the season. The Cowboys finish with games at Redmond Oct. 26 and against Bend in Prineville Nov. 2.
   "It would be a huge boost for us to get a win over a program like Marshfield," said Steve Turner, CCHS football coach. "The history it has behind it is tremendous. They're a playoff football team and to beat a team from another league that's a playoff team would be good for us."
   Marshfield's offense is most often sparked by 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior Brad Huntley. Huntley is the team's leading rusher with 95 carries, 659 yards and nine touchdowns, but he also wears more hats than one.
   He is the second leading receiver on the team in terms of yards with 199.
   Stopping Huntley just might be the key to a win for Crook County Friday, something which coach Turner pointed out is easier said than done.
   "First we have to figure where's he's going to line up, because he lines up in a lot of different spots," Turner said. "Sometimes he's a wide out, a slot, sometimes he's a tailback, sometimes he's a halfback, so they try to hide him and it's difficult to defend him by putting him in a lot of positions."
   At the helm of Marshfield is 6-foot, 170-pound junior quarterback Casey McCord, who has completed 48 of 87 passes for 668 yards, with two interceptions and six touchdowns. Also on offense will be 6-foot, 155-pound junior wide out Ben Looney. Looney leads the team with 246 yards on 13 catches. He's scored three times.
   In addition to Huntley, also expected to see time in the backfield is 5-foot-8, 185-pound senior fullback Roger Rubio. On 70 attempts Rubio has rushed for 370 yards and two scores.
   The Pirates will look to cut down on turnovers. They committed four in a 35-13 win last week to North Bend, a statistic Marshfield head coach Kent Wigle wants to forget.
   "We need to be able to run the football successfully against them," Wigle said, now in his 14th year at the helm of the Pirates. "And we need to cut down on turnovers offensively and create some defensively."
   The Pirates plan to make a day out of the trip to Prineville. They plan to practice Friday morning at the University of Oregon and have lunch at the Rustic Skillet near the McKenzie River.
   "It kind of falls at a good time in the schedule because we have a huge league game against Sheldon next week, so it's kind of a nice time," Wigle said about his team playing its only non-league contest of the season.
   "For us, it's an opportunity to try and concentrate on Marshfield and to get better. It's an improvement thing and we hope to do that."
   The Cowboys have lost three straight since winning their first three games of the season. Offensively, they will look to respond with senior tailback Jamie Swindle, sophomore fullback Matt Bliss and a handful of Cowboy receivers, five of whom combined for 143 yards in last week's loss to Hermiston. Swindle has rushed for 708 yards on the year, including 12 carries and 40 yards last Friday.
   Swindle also caught a 15-yard touchdown pass against the Bulldogs. Bliss led Crook County with 108 yards on the ground last week.
   The CCHS offense will be handled by sophomore quarterback Chad Swindle, who was 11 for 20 and 143 yards, one interception and one touchdown in a solid performance against Hermiston.
   "We've got to do the things that we haven't done the last couple of weeks," Turner said. "We have to execute on offense, not make little mistakes and put the ball in the end zone. I think we piled up a lot of yards last week, but we didn't put it in the end zone."
   Junior Mike Tracy, senior Evan Hendrix and senior Adam Barney each contributed more than 30 yards receiving a week ago.
   As far as defense goes, the Cowboys look to create some noise in senior leading tackler Colt Conley and both Tracy and Barney, who each have multiple interceptions this season.
   On the only injury note for the Cowboys, senior kicker and lineman Jason Wilkinson is suffering from a shoulder injury and will most likely be limited to attempting extra points and field goals against the Pirates.
   "We need to execute and be disciplined," Turner said. "Our effort has been there, great efforts, the physical stuff is all there. We just have to make sure we're doing the right stuff and we have to do it the whole ball game, we just can't do it in spurts."