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Seaside visits Scappoose in battle with huge implications

Whoever wins this one will likely finish second in the league and host a play-in game on Nov. 1


by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Senior receiver Justice Oman makes a leaping catch during last week's game at Tillamook. Oman is one of the Indian's biggest threats, especially in a battle with a team like Seaside, who sports such a strong defense against the run.Feeble fans beware, this Seagulls team is downright thrilling. Seaside football coach Jeff Roberts put it perfectly in a post on his blog following the Gulls’ 30-29 win over Astoria.

“If you are faint of heart,” he said, “the last two weeks may have been more than you can handle.”

With just three minutes and change left, Seaside (6-1, 2-1 Cowapa) was trailing Astoria (2-5, 1-2 Cowapa) by six points and sat with 65 yards between them and the end zone. The Seagulls took the ball the length of the field just before the final whistle, and senior tight end Nick Richardson caught a pass to score the game-tying touchdown.

   A week prior, Seaside had league-leading Banks hamstrung. After fighting back from a 14-point deficit, the Seagulls had just one desperate chance to win the game and avoid overtime. Banks’ Santa Maria had other plans, picking off a pass and returning it 40 yards for a touchdown to give the Braves a 20-14 victory.

Whew.

What a couple of weeks. If anything, it proves the Seagulls know what they’re doing in a tight game. What’s more, they aren’t afraid to break out of their shell when the situation demands it. Primarily a running team, it was two huge passing plays that made the difference on the final drive, including the play that tied the game.

That said, Seaside knows how to run the ball. Their three team captains actually don’t include junior quarterback Kevin LaCoste, and while the passing attack is there should the team need it, the air game is used largely on a situational basis.

Much of the reason for Seaside’s success on the ground has to go to the unbelievable size of their offensive line. The Seagulls have three seniors that stand well over six feet tall and weigh in at more than 300 pounds each. Offensive tackle Donald Zwahlen at 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds is the smallest of the monstrous trio, with offensive tackle Trenton Shaw measuring at 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds.

The team’s behemoth, and likely one of the biggest linemen in Class 4A, is senior Shawn Cobb. At 6-foot-5 and 328 pounds, he weighs almost twice as much as Scappoose senior running back Carson Davison. By contrast, the biggest player the Indians boast is 6-foot-8, 285 pound senior lineman Dalton Welter.

The disparity between the two lines gives Seaside a distinct edge in the inside running game, as the offensive line is able to simply push the defense out of the way and open up gaps. The Gulls take full advantage of their superior size, making up huge portions of their offense by running between the tackles.

Defensively, they are a nightmare for passing teams like Scappoose. If the defensive lineman you’re blocking outweighs you by over 100 pounds, he’ll be difficult to keep out of the backfield and off the shoulders of quarterback Taylor Loss.

What the Indians need to do

This isn’t their first game facing big linemen. In the season opener at Roosevelt, the game plan was to utilize the outside run game to get the heavier linemen moving side to side. As the game wears on, those linemen will either sit and catch their breath or simply run out of energy. The Indians have speed, and if they can get to the edge and utilize the option, they have a chance to open things up in the latter stages of the game.

One of the most impressive things about Seaside is that they can never be counted out of a game, no matter what the score. The Gulls came back from 14 points down to tie Banks, and got a long field goal in the game against Astoria to cut the lead to six points, setting up their final touchdown drive. No lead is too big, and if the lead is small, they have a solid chance. The Indians haven’t been beaten this season when getting the first touchdown, so scoring early and playing with a lead gives them their best chance.

Taylor Loss hasn’t thrown many interceptions this season, and now isn’t the time to get started. For that matter, turnovers in general could be deadly in a game this tight. With such an imposing defense, the threat of a sack will be a constant thought through Loss’ mind, and worry can force mistakes. A sack is better than a pick, but being smart and getting rid of the ball safely is the best option.