Two straight losses have the Indians searching for answers.

by: FILE PHOTO - Taylor Loss runs in a touchdown against Yamhill-Carlton during last years' road victory.Already, Yamhill-Carlton is miles better than last season. Their 2012 campaign ended badly, finishing without a win, but this time around the Tigers have a new coach and a pair of ‘Ws’ to boot.

After dropping their first three games, Yamhill-Carlton (2-3, 1-0 Cowapa) put together a pair of wins against Estacada and Astoria. The first contest, a 45-12 debacle at home to Philomath, has been their low point so far, and the Tigers have improved steadily each week.

   Mostly due to the play of Zac Rhodes, their 6-3, 211 pound returning starter at quarterback, Yamhill-Carlton has been able to put up decent scoring numbers this season, but they’ve been hit-and-miss. 39 points were more than enough to blast past Estacada, but the Tigers managed only 13 points in their game at home against Astoria, a contest in which they scored just two touchdowns and gave up a safety.

Scappoose has seen big quarterbacks already this season. Banks’ Garrett Markham and Central’s Ben Finnegan both stand at around 6-2 and weigh between 190 and 210 pounds. In both cases, the quarterbacks gave the Indians fits. Finnegan led with his arm and threatened with his legs, and Markham scrambled time and time again for yardage out of the backfield.

Because the Tigers run the Pistol offense, Rhodes will spend a lot of his time lining up in the shotgun, and not under center. If the Indians defensive line is as successful in disrupting the snap as they were against Banks, Scappoose could find themselves with quite a few forced turnovers. That is, if Rhodes has any less than half of Markham’s scrambling ability. The Indians did well to pressure the Banks offense, but weren’t able to wrap up in the rain and mud. This week facing a slightly less brilliant athlete and in better conditions, that won’t be as big of a challenge.

Offensively, the Indians have some things to work out. A far cry from his performances in the first four games, Loss has had trouble hitting his receivers early on in games, often over throwing his intended targets. The Tribe has also struggled to get the run game going. After averaging 147 rushing yards through the first three games, Scappoose has notched 115 yards total in their last two games. Senior running back Carson Davison accounts for most of those, gaining 60 yards against Central and 48 yards against Banks, but the Indians need more running options, perhaps senior Lionel Sandoval, whose 5-10, 230 pound frame could be a wrecking ball when Scappoose needs rushing yards up the middle.

What the Indians need to do

It’s been a key for the last few games, and Scappoose has a big chance to get some experience in running the football. Opponents haven’t been respecting the running game, and are abandoning the run defense to attack Loss in the backfield. Loss was sacked seven times against Banks for -17 yards, and was one of two rushers for the Indians. Jonathan Tardif and Braden Clark didn’t carry the ball at all, and the lack of options makes defending the run much easier. Spreading out the carries also gives Davison a rest, and can leave a few more pass blockers in the backfield to protect Loss as he looks for receivers downfield.

Scappoose also needs to dial in on Rhodes. The victory at Roosevelt proved the Indians can shut down a playmaker like Kimane Domena, and this instance isn’t any different. Disrupting Rhodes’ flow by getting in his face limits his options with his arm by shortening the amount of time he has to make choices.

Lastly, Tribe head coach Sean McNabb has said the team is one of the best he’s ever had in his time at Scappoose. The rest of the season is still there for the taking, regardless of whether the Indians can catch Banks for the Cowapa league title, and the difference between success and failure is about mindset. If Scappoose can pick themselves up and come out to win this game going away, they can use it as a springboard for the remainder of their league schedule.

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