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Quest for perfection continues with Rainier

Diesel attack from Rainier adds spread thread


by: FILE PHOTO - Quarterback Taylor Loss runs the ball in last year's match up with Rainier. Scappoose knocked off the Columbians 40-22 last season.Every season for the last decade there has been a buzz around the football team in Rainier.

But this season, the Rainier Columbians have a vastly different look. Head coach Mike King is now in his second season, and as he gets more acquainted, the Columbians’ rigid running game gets a little looser.

In the past, Rainier relied heavily on the Diesel offense and the rushing game. Columbian teams, including the one that won a Class 3A title in 2010, were full to the brim of smash-mouth, in-your-face runners.

Now, things are a little different. King surprised many onlookers in the opening victory over Kennedy on Aug. 30 by dropping the run altogether for a few series’ and switching to a spread. At times it worked, resulting in a touchdown and a punt in Rainier’s two attempts, but it says something about King and where he plans to take this program.

No longer will teams know exactly what they’re getting into when facing Rainier. No longer will the Columbians stubbornly smash the ball up the middle, leaving the passing game to waste away while they hold on to the ball and grind out a win down the stretch.

On Friday, it’s difficult to say what Rainier will bring to Scappoose, and that’s exactly what King intends.

“It adds that shred of doubt when defenses face us,” said King.

The core of the Columbian attack is still the brutal running game, but the newfound flexibility can clearly be seen in the numbers from the win over Kennedy. Of the nearly 400 yards of offense, a quarter was through the air by the hands of senior quarterback Wes Tripp, a massive shift from years past.

The new system was highlighted late in the first quarter. With just over a minute remaining, Tripp led a 78 yard drive to the end zone with passes of 22, 28 and 15 yards in a lighting version of the two minute offense.

While Tripp accomplished good things in the passing game, it was the rest of the stat sheet that was the difference maker. In addition to going 8-16 in the air for 105 yards and one score, Tripp rushed 27 times for 188 yards and two touchdowns. He also stepped up to kick the extra points.

What the Indians need to do

The spread is somewhat new and fresh for Rainier. They’ve had time to get more comfortable since the start of the season, but it’s not something the team has been running for several years. The Diesel is still the bread and butter, and is likely what the Columbians will go with out of the gate. The main goal for a defense is usually to stop the run, but in this case it’s a little more important. Shutting down the running game will force Tripp to pass, and defending the spread is something Scappoose is more suited for. If the Indians can slow the run early in the game, chances are King will give his new system a try, opening up opportunities for takeaways.

Tripp is especially dangerous. He’s not a tall, lanky quarterback like Roosevelt’s Kimane Domena, and he doesn’t do his damage with sheer athleticism. Tripp at 5’8”, 190 pounds, is a freight train. In fact, he and his brother Jeff, who stands at 6’1” and weighs in at 225 – are a two man wrecking machine that start on both offense and defense. Tripp is essential to this offense because of how difficult it is to stop him when he builds up a head of steam. Filling the gaps on defense and keeping an eye on Wes Tripp’s action in the backfield will be essential to keeping him out of the secondary where he can do serious damage against some of the lighter, speedier players.

Offensively, Scappoose has all the tools to make this one another blowout. Rainier doesn’t have a roster near the size of the Indians,’ and continuing to run their no-huddle, lightning quick attack won’t leave the Columbians any room for error. Or time to breathe.