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Good start vs. Astoria showed team's depth, but Forest Grove presents bigger challenge for Scappoose

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JOHN BREWINGTON - The Scappoose defense was stingy in last week's season opener, won by the Indians, 27-0, over Astoria.Football coaches always want to see execution improve.

That's certainly the case for Scappoose coach Sean McNabb as his Indians prepare to entertain Forest Grove on Friday.

Sure, there was a lot to like about the 27-0 win over longtime rival Class 4A Astoria in the season opener on Aug. 31.

But this week's game introduces the Indians to competition in the new Class 5A-6A Special District 1 for football, as the 6A Vikings come for the 7 p.m. kickoff.

The Indians, after their shutout win over the Fishermen, are ranked 10th in the Oregon School Activities Association 5A coaches poll. District rivals Wilsonville (ranked second behind Churchill) and Pendleton (ranked sixth) are also in the top 10.

Two challenges the Vikings (1-0) figure to present Friday are a 4-3 defense that focuses on shutting down an opponent's ground game and some talented skill players who will test the Scappoose pass defense.

"We're looking to improve a lot from Week 1 to Week 2," McNabb says. "Forest Grove is, I feel, a better team than Astoria. They have some big-time athletes. They have some speed."

Forest Grove opened with a 33-13 win over Putnam, the one-sided score a result of a 5-1 advantage in the turnover battle for the Vikings. Putnam outgunned Forest Grove 371 yards to 334 in total offense.

For Scappoose, the standout on offense against Astoria was Connor McNabb, who rushed for 154 yards and a 5-yard touchdown on 19 carries. He also took back a punt 80 yards for a touchdown.

Scappoose, which led 21-0 at halftime, finished with 289 rushing yards against Astoria. Quarterback Jakobi Kessi ran for 47 yards and a touchdown. Matt Roth had five carries for 31 yards and a 15-yard touchdown run.

The ground game helped Scappoose control time of possession. The Indians might have scored more than three offensive touchdowns if not for two lost fumbles and some drive-halting penalties.

For all of that success on the ground, Coach McNabb will be looking for more balance on offense against Forest Grove. Kessi completed 7 of 17 passes for 65 yards last week. Gavin Larson led four receivers with three catches for 29 yards.

"We have to throw the ball better. I didn't think we threw and caught very well against Astoria," Coach McNabb says.

Among the bright spots in the season opener for Scappoose was the depth demonstrated by the Indians' defense.

"The big question defensively was how our No. 2s were going to play," McNabb says. "I was really pleased with our backups. I thought they played really well.

"Defensively, I thought we flew around and made some plays. We played physical and came out of there with a shutout, which is always a big thing."

Among those providing defensive depth were inside linebackers Slater Smiens and Conner Havlik, each in on four tackles, and defensive backs Mike Reed and Thomas Greiner.

The leading tacklers against Astoria were Connor McNabb and Connor Maclachlan, each with three solo tackles and two assists. Terrence Lewis (two solo) and Roth (one solo) each were in on six tackles.

Tommy McKedy and Gavin Larson made a quarterback sack, and Blake Morkert and Gabe Jacobs each intercepted a pass.

It was a strong opener for the Indians. But there were breakdowns in pass coverage, according to Coach McNabb, that an effective throwing team would be able to exploit.

Limiting penalties also was a point of emphasis after the opener.

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