Scappoose will play their first game without Taylor Loss starting at quarterback.
As far as standings are concerned, the Tribes season finale on the road against Astoria really doesnt mean much, but with so much riding on the final rankings, this is no time to slip up.
The Fishermen (2-6, 1-3 Cowapa) were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs two weeks ago, compounding a painful 30-29 loss to rival Seaside on a last-second touchdown by watching their post-season hopes slip away.
For the Indians, there is still much to play for. In addition to keeping their spot at No. 4 in the OSAA rankings, they will also need all the momentum and confidence they can muster as they take a shot at the rest of the Class 4A playoff bracket.
Following the win over Seaside last week, coach Sean McNabb spoke highly of his teams depth, especially when it comes time for post-season play. The Indians showed an impressive resiliency after starting quarterback Taylor Loss went down with a sprained ankle late in the first half, and they may need the depth as Loss wont make the return against Astoria.
Even though Loss will stay on the bench an extra week for his ankle to heal, Scappoose shouldnt have much of a reason to fret. Not only do the Indians have a more than capable backup in junior Joey Krupsky, but the Tribe has an excellent opportunity to clean up on defense against Astoria.
Its safe to say the Fishermen dont have much of a passing attack. Senior quarterback Dyllan Sollars has thrown nearly twice as many interceptions as touchdowns, including three picks during Astorias 13-9 loss to Yamhill-Carlton.
In addition, the Fishermen have proven they cant exactly make a team pay for stopping a single aspect of their offense. Against Gladstone in the season opener, Astoria got exactly 15 yards on the ground. Sollars was sacked six times and completed just four passes, the same amount fellow senior Nick Strange completed when Sollars was found to be ineffective.
Strange is really the only other option for the Fishermen. He leads the team in rushing attempts, yards and yards per carry. Senior Brandon Winters is a distant second in receiving yards.
What the Indians need to do
Keeping Loss healthy and being sure he stays that way is the Tribes only chance to do well in the post-season. Its not worth risking him getting reinjured for him to play in a game where hes not needed. As of Wednesday, Loss was not set to play against Astoria, especially because Scappoose will make the playoffs regardless of a win or... well, Loss.
If Scappoose can handle the Fishermen running game anywhere close to as well as Gladstone, theyll force Sollars to throw the ball, especially if the Indians get an early lead. This brings up two opportunities for Scappoose. Once Sollars drops back to pass the ball, hes vulnerable. If Scappoose brings the safety up for the sake of pressuring Sollars in the backfield, hell either toss up a dangerous pass into coverage or attempt to scramble out of a sack. The Indians struggled to take down Banks Garrett Markham during their 21-0 loss to the Braves, but Sollars is a completely different animal. While Markham stood at a menacing 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Sollars is a head shorter at 5-foot-11, 150 pounds. He should be much easier to get to and tackle for a loss.
If ever there was a time the defense should step up, its this game. Regardless of whether Loss is under the weather, the defense will be called upon time and time again as the stakes raise in the post-season, and this is a perfect chance to show they can shut a team down from the first snap. Focus has been a mantra of head coach Sean McNabbs, and theyll never find a better time to dial it in.