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Indians host North Bend in football quarterfinal

Scappoose will have a tenacious defense to break down, but but one of the biggest keys is stopping the Bulldogs' speedy quarterback.


by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Devin Ray lets loose a roar as the buzzer signals an Indian win last week over Elmira. In the second quarter, a Falcon pass deflected off one of the intended receivers and into Ray's hands for an interception, which he ran 37 yards for a touchdown.In case anyone needed some extra proof that defense wins championships, the eight teams left standing in the Class 4A football bracket make a solid case. Six of the teams rank in the top eight on defense, and all of the top eight teams made the first round. It is against one of those programs that Scappoose will face their biggest challenge yet, a second-round tussle with North Bend on Friday night at home.

Ultimately, all that matters is ending the game with more points than the opponent, but North Bend's defensive prowess is impressive for several reasons. Firstly, they held a high-scoring Cottage Grove offense to within striking distance in their only loss of the season, and while the Bulldogs walked away with a disheartening 39-38 defeat, it proves they have the tools on both sides of the ball to be a dangerous team.

They sit just two points behind top-ranked Philomath in points against with 156, and ahead of Scappoose who gave up 178 points in the regular season. Additionally, as prolific as the Indian offense has been at times, it has been their offense that gets them beaten.

In the only losses for the Tribe, the Indians held their opponents far below their average offensive output, but between those two defeats, Scappoose scored a total of two touchdowns. It's no surprise the losses to Central and Banks were also the Tribe's worst rushing games of the season as well, and a bad game on the ground translates to a tough game through the air.

In North Bend's last game, a first-round match up with Cascade, they dispatched the Cougars 35-7 behind a huge defensive effort and the play of junior quarterback Cameron Lucero. Both a passer and a runner, as well as, a strong presence on defense, Lucero carried the Bulldogs, throwing for a pair and rushing for a pair of touchdowns.

But beware, Lucero is fast. Really fast. Blow-your-socks-off fast. All it takes is for the defense to hesitate for a moment, and Lucero is in the secondary outrunning the defensive backs by a mile. In this highlight reel, keep an eye on #1 and watch the breakaway speed once he gets past the line of scrimmage. It's next to impossible to catch him.

What the Indians need to do

Defensively, Scappoose has been good this year, but one of the most painful memories for the linebackers has to be the image of Banks' quarterback Garett Markham evading fistfuls of tacklers and rushing out of a deep, dark hole for positive yardage. Lucero has shown a similar ability, and though he doesn't have the same power running style as Markham, he's just so unbelievably quick, it doesn't seem to matter. If he gets free, it likely means points on the board for North Bend, and putting it bluntly, that simply cannot happen if Scappoose hopes to win this game.

The Bulldogs run a similar system to Scappoose, the ‘nickel-and-dime' idea which banks on athletes making big plays rather than setting up a play to get someone open downfield. If Scappoose can score early and get a lead, the long ball might begin to look a little more tempting to the Bulldogs. Such a tactic can either work in a big way or fail in an equally big way, and it's a risk teams have to take in order to make up a large deficit. The Indians have several playmakers in their defensive secondary as well as a number of solid pass rushers, making the possibility of either a sack or an interception rise should North Bend have to resort to a deep passing game. Regardless, Scappoose tends to play best when holding a lead, which is never a bad thing to have.

Though this game looks as though defense might have the final say, it will depend on whether the Indians can get their offense going in the first place. Those two losses early in the season hurt, especially because Scappoose had been averaging 49 points a game before dropping a pair of offensive eggs. Once the Indian train gets rolling, it's extremely hard to stop. Defenses start to respect the run and fear the arm of Loss, and now McNabb has decided to bring Krupsky in for a play or two a game, just to change things up. With another week of practice with their starting quarterback, the Indian offense should be a well-oiled machine once game time comes around, and they'll need it – the Bulldogs give up an average of only 15.6 points per game.

Keys to the Game:

Don't try to catch QB Cam Lucero from behind

Score early, force Bulldogs to keep up

Get the ball out of Loss' hands quickly

Stay patient on offense

Players to Watch

#1 QB Cameron Lucero

#33 RB Mason Laird