Early showdown with Roosevelt could set the tone for a special season

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Carson Davison spins around a defender at practice last week. Davison's speed and ability to get to the edge will be a huge asset in the match up with Roosevelt, where the Indians need to spread out the big defensive line and wear them down by moving laterally.There’s no slow start in store for the Indians football team this season. Last year they matched up with Roosevelt at home, eventually losing a 48-41 thriller which saw Scappoose come back from a 42-14 deficit in the second half and put up more than 400 yards of offense. This year they have a rematch with Roosevelt, but the Roughriders have a lot more to offer than they did a year ago.

Roosevelt, ranked 10th in the nation in a recent poll, finished a deceiving 3-7 in the Portland Interscholastic League last season, but had to forfeit four games due to the use of ineligible players. Three of the four games they had to give up were blowouts, and in all four games, the Roughriders scored 43 points or more. In fact, Roosevelt’s offensive brilliance was only stopped a handful of times last season. They averaged 39.3 points per game, a large percentage of those gaudy numbers due to the efforts of returning junior quarterback Kimane Domena.

Domena tore up the Indians’ defense in the opener last fall, throwing for 187 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and rushing for another pair of scores. On the season, Domena threw for 1,457 yards and 19 touchdowns, with just six picks and the league’s longest passing play of 60 yards. With another 782 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, Domena is a real threat to any defense he’ll see this season.

The strength of Roosevelt’s team doesn’t begin and end with Domena, however, but with their offensive and defensive lines. A pair of seniors, Simon Taumoe’anga (6’2,” 295) and Semise “Tonga” Kofe (6’1,” 280), have both been catching attention from college scouts since the beginning of last season, and they are much of the reason behind Roosevelt’s success.

Such size on the offensive and defensive lines can conceivably cause serious problems for a team like Scappoose, which relies heavily on the passing abilities of quarterback Taylor Loss to run the offense. A quarterback in a spread system needs time to read which of his receivers are open, and that can take much longer than a traditional system because there may be as many as five receivers on the field at once. The longer it takes for the pass to be made, the more pressure is put on the offensive line to protect the quarterback. Against big bodies like Taumoe’anga and Kofe, the time allowed grows shorter and shorter.

Not only does the presence of such a strong defensive line make life difficult for Loss, it also makes the run game more challenging because of the difficulty to find holes in between tackles. However, the Indian’s biggest advantage is already built into their offensive system.

Because Scappoose runs a spread offense, they have a powerful weapon to use against big, strong players. Even if those players can move well, they run out of energy faster than the lighter players do, simply because of their size. The Indians plan to use the lack of stamina to their advantage against Roosevelt, according to assistant coach Ryan Svenson, and get the ball to the edges and force the bigger players to move from sideline to sideline.

What the Indians will need to do:

Establish a strong running game early. If they can get the defense to focus on plugging up the middle, the secondary will spread out and allow for Loss to hit receivers down the field. In addition, if Scappoose can get players outside the hashmarks when they come out of the backfield, they’ll force Roosevelt to place more of an emphasis on the line of scrimmage, again opening up opportunities for players to catch passes down the field and wearing out the big, strong defensive line.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Indians will need to keep a close eye on speedy and slippery quarterback Kimane Domena. That could mean giving him more attention from the safeties, or working on a variety of pass rush options, but Domena’s ability to hurt an opposing defense in several different ways poses a steep challenge. If the pass rush is successful and Domena is flushed from the pocket, he still has enough speed to gain serious yards. Pressuring him, but keeping a constant, patient eye on Domena from the defensive backfield, are about all Scappoose can do.

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