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Scappoose Indians take on No. 1 Wilsonville Wildcats in Class 5A football showdown

PHOTO COURTESY: JOHN BREWINGTON - Scappoose High senior Connor McNabb takes off on a kickoff return for a touchdown in the first minute of last week's game at home against St. Helens.Another week, another big game.

And this one might be the most formidable challenge so far for the Scappoose Indians.

Scappoose will play host at 7 p.m. Friday to the Wilsonville Wildcats, who are ranked No. 1 in the state at Class 5A by both the coaches and the Oregon School Activities Association.

"Wilsonville is the real deal," Scappoose coach Sean McNabb says.

The Wildcats are one of four undefeated 5A teams. The others are Pendleton, Silverton and West Albany. Pendleton came to Scappoose on Sept. 21 and rallied to defeat the Indians, 47-27.

"I have a feeling Wilsonville is probably better than Pendleton," McNabb says.

The Pendleton game remains the only loss for the Indians (4-1) since they made the step up from 4A to 5A this year.

Wilsonville is a 5A force in most every sport the OSAA offers. Its football team was 10-2 last year, losing to eventual state champion Hermiston 35-27 in the playoffs. This season, Wilsonville leads the state (5A) with 266 points scored (53.2 per game). The Wildcats have allowed 16.6 points per outing.

Scappoose has given up 23.6 points per game and scored 37.2, after its 49-25 win last week at home over St. Helens. That was a big game because of the Columbia County rivalry, and because it now counts in the new Special District 1 West Division for football.

Wilsonville will be Scappoose's third "big game" in a row, and a victory by the Indians would put them in a tie with the first-place Wildcats at 4-1 in league.

Getting it won't be easy.

"We're going to have to be on our 'A' game and be sharp," McNabb said.

The teams have played two common opponents.

Wilsonville defeated Hillsboro, 54-0, and Scappoose beat the Spartans, 39-14.

Against Forest Grove, Wilsonville won 43-6 last week while Scappoose won 44-32 on Sept. 7.

Wilsonville's offense is led by senior quarterback Nathan Overholt (6-3, 190 pounds). The second-year starter has thrown for 24 touchdowns this season, with one interception. He's completed 72.1 percent of his passes for 299.4 yards per game.

Senior Jonah Gomez, an all-league player in 2017, has 30 receptions for 477 yards and eight TDs. Senior Sam Westing also has caught eight touchdown passes, with 16 total grabs for 319 yards. Other key targets include senior Zach Rivers (15 receptions, 285 yards, three TDs) and senior Isaiah Haqq (nine catches for 155 yards and four touchdowns).

On the ground, the Wildcats have churned out 136.6 yards per game (4.6 per carry), using a variety of ball carriers. Four running backs and Overholt have combined to run for eight touchdowns.

Seniors also dominate the Wildcats' lineup on defense, with sophomore Chad Overholt, a 6-1, 195-pound linebacker, chipping in as one of the major tacklers.

For Scappoose this season, senior Connor McNabb has rushed for 764 yards, junior QB Jakobi Kessi has run for 363 yards, senior Quincy Cleveland has 307 yards on the ground, and senior Matt Roth has gained 218 yards. Their averages: McNabb, 8.9 per carry; Kessi, 7.3; Cleveland, 9.9; and Roth, 8.7.

In five games, Kessi has completed 55.5 percent (61 of 110 passes) for 610 yards and six touchdowns, with two interceptions.

McNabb and senior wide receiver Gavin Larson lead the team with 18 catches apiece. McNabb has 176 yards receiving; Larson has 262.

The loss to Pendleton was a disappointment, of course.

"That really burned," receiver/defensive lineman Larson says.

But it was only a temporary setback for the Indians — as were the first few seconds of last week's game against St. Helens, when the Lions jumped to a 7-0 lead on an interception return for a touchdown.

The Indians showed the ability to bounce back.

"Early on (in a game), we don't get down on stuff like turnovers or penalties, because we know we can bounce back, we've got the team," Kessi says. "And we were really able to come together after last week's loss (to Pendleton), so that really helped (against St. Helens), because we wanted it more.

"I had people all over town asking me what happened (versus Pendleton), and it was tough, but I think it brought us closer as a team. We fixed a lot of stuff, a lot of mistakes we'd made, and we're a better team because of it."

Good enough to upset Wilsonville?

"I hope we can have a big game," Cleveland says. "It will be a tough one, but we an do it. No mistakes. If we play like we did (against St. Helens), we'll have it in the bag."

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