Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Estacada faces must-win Friday


Victory against Madras would give Rangers automatic bid into the playoffs

With just three losses on the season — all three to teams ranked in the top four in state — Estacada would seem to be a prime candidate for an at-large playoff bid this season.by: PHOTO BY LOREN NIBBE - If the Rangers want to beat Madras on Friday, the improvement is going to need to come from the offensive side of the ball.

Head coach Brigham Baker, however, doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.

This Friday the Rangers travel to Madras for their final regular season game, with the game’s winner claiming the third and final automatic playoff bid behind La Salle and Gladstone.

“OSAA has changed things every year, but in order for us to be in, we need to beat Madras,” Baker said. “If we lose, we might stay home. There are a couple at-large bids, but I don’t know what we would need to do for that to happen. Last year we got in at 1-9, but that was because our preseason schedule was brutal.”

Entering the game on Friday, Estacada is tied with Madras with a 2-2 record in Tri-Valley League play. While the Rangers were 3-1 outside of league play, Madras was just 1-3.

In games against common opponents this season, the outcomes were similar. Both teams were dominated by La Salle and Gladstone, but Madras fared much better against North Marion and Molalla, winning by a combined score of 79-24.

While also 2-0 in those games, Estacada won by a combined score of just 38-28.

“They’re big and they have a lot of speed,” Baker said. “They have a good group of kids with a couple good running backs and a quarterback who leads the conference in passing yards.”

Against most high school opponents, coaches can focus on stopping the run in hope that big passing plays won’t kill them. That isn’t the case with Madras, though.

“The key against them is stopping the passing game, because they pass the ball a lot and they have a lot of speed,” Baker said. “Their running game is simple and basic, but the passing game is sophisticated, so we’ll need to bring our A-game.”

One problem for the Rangers in their passing defense is the loss of cornerback Ryan Vauthier, who sprained his neck and suffered a concussion in last week’s loss. His replacement is Landon Young, a senior who has seen plenty of playing time thus far.

“I’m excited about what he’ll be able to do,” Baker said. “(Landon) would be the question mark, but I don’t think it will be a problem as much as some people might think.”

Offensively, the Rangers will need to get things on track quickly if they want to compete with the run-and-gun offense of Madras. In wins this season, Madras is allowing just under 13 points per game to their opponents.

For Baker, the key to the offense is simply execution.

“We’ll stay with what we’ve been doing because when we do it right, it works,” he said. “The way our offense is set up, we have five different running plays and three rules for each kid. The theory is that even if they’re just guessing, they would guess right 33 percent of the time, but we’re guessing wrong more often than that. We just need to keep after it and find a solution.”

With time running out in the season, this week would sure be a good time for the Ranger offense to start clicking and running at full speed. The Rangers have shown they can beat the teams they need to and that they have the potential to keep things close against the state’s finest.

Then again, if they don’t make it to playoffs, none of that will really matter.

The Rangers kick off at 7 p.m. in Madras on Friday.