Mountain View set to play another 6A team

The Cougars' schedule is filled with tough tests and big schools

By Grant Lucas / The Bulletin / @Grant_Lucas88

Published Sep 19, 2013 at 05:00AM

Prep football this weekend, at a glance

Here is a quick look at the games involving area teams on Friday, with records in parentheses:

Bend (0-3) at Marist (1-2), 7 p.m.: Lava Bears coach Matt Craven will tell you that you will never see a bad Marist team. The Spartans have advanced to the Class 5A state semifinals each of the past four seasons and have appeared in three state finals during the same span. Craven expects Marist, which fell at Ashland 21-7 last Friday, to establish the line of scrimmage with a heavy dose of rushing, leading the Bend coach to draw comparisons to his Lava Bears. Jordan Neelon, after rushing for 118 yards and a TD in a 47-7 loss at West Salem last week, is averaging more than 130 yards per game on the ground, and he is expected to carry the load against Marist on Friday night, but Craven says Hunter McDonald could see more touches. “We obviously want to be able to run the ball, and (Neelon) is the featured back in our offense,” Craven says. “Our fullback (McDonald), we’d like to get him incorporated more in running the ball and catching the ball.”

Redmond (1-2) at Franklin (2-1), 7 p.m.: The Panthers come off a 45-19 loss to visiting Hood River Valley last Friday, and for the reigning Intermountain Conference champs, it is all about getting better at executing their assignments both offensively and defensively, according to Redmond coach Nathan Stanley. The Panthers visit Portland on Friday night to take on the Quakers, who dispatched the defending Portland Interscholastic League champion, Wilson, 24-6 last week. Franklin has its fair share of athletes, Stanley points out, but the second-year coach says the Panthers have the potential to pull out a road victory. Stopping the run is crucial, Stanley says, an area that hurt Redmond in its recent 26-point loss. Fortunately, the Panthers do not have to rely on just one playmaker, such as Derek Brown, who rushed for 48 yards and also logged a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown against Hood River Valley. Instead, Stanley notes the variety of players that can contribute to Redmond’s attack. “Our offense isn’t about getting the same person the ball over and over again,” Stanley says. “Everyone (is) contributing to what we’re doing. Certainly, when we do that well, one person can have really good statistics or have a really productive night, but I think that’s a product of everyone doing their job.”

The Dalles Wahtonka (2-1) at Summit (2-1), 7 p.m.: A touchdown pass from Bransen Reynolds to Tyler Mullen with 14 seconds left propelled the Storm to a thrilling 28-22 win at Klamath Union last week. Summit hosts former Intermountain Conference foe The Dalles Wahtonka on Friday, and it could be the play-making of Reynolds and Mullen that carries the Storm to a second straight win. Reynolds threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns against KU, by far his most yards passing so far this season. Mullen, meanwhile, added 156 yards receiving to his season total, giving the wideout 365 yards for the season with five touchdowns. The Eagle Indians, who have dropped the past two meetings against Summit, are coming off a 45-28 win against Crook County.

McNary (1-2) at Mountain View (2-1), 7 p.m.: The Cougars felt as if they were the better team against Sprague last week in a 36-14 loss in Salem, but as Mountain View coach Brian Crum will say, it is what you do, not what you think, that matters. Crum says the biggest factor in that defeat was that the Cougs “didn’t show up to play for the first quarter and a half,” Crum says. They will need to show up on Friday night, when Mountain View hosts McNary, the second straight Central Valley Conference opponent for the Cougars and third consecutive Class 6A program. “Our kids, I think, they’re accountable for what they did,” Crum says. “They understand that we’ve got to be ready to play, first snap to the last snap. If we can do that, then we feel like we can play with most teams in the state regardless of their size.” Crum says Mountain View needs to get its rushing attack back on track after not having much success against Sprague. But at the same time, after Conor Nehl threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns against the Olympians, and with a downfield threat such as Nick Hjelm, who racked up 128 yards receiving, if Mountain View is forced to air it out, it will. “It’s consistency on each play,” Crum says. “We have 11 guys executing on one play. ... If we can just get consistent, know-our-roles focus long enough to get it done, we’ll get there.” e_SClBCascade Christian (2-1) at Ridgeview (2-1), 7 p.m.: After rushing for 465 yards in a 47-10 win against North Valley in Grants Pass last Friday, the Ravens are ready for more. Ridgeview entertains Medford’s Cascade Christian, which comes off a 41-14 victory at Pleasant Hill and has advanced to the Class 3A state semifinals each of the past five years (including last season’s run to the state final, where the Challengers fell). Ravens coach Andy Codding says Cascade Christian likes to spread the field to create space for its athletic and quick players, such as wideout Cody Parker, who Codding calls “probably the fastest kid we’ll see all year.” Ridgeview expects to present the Challengers with the three-headed attack of running backs Tanner Stevens and Boomer Fleming as well as quarterback Cody Simpson, all of whom have rushed for more than 250 yards this season. “We’ve got three kids, all fairly equal in their rushing yardage for us, so we want to be balanced that way,” Codding says. “We want to threaten (Cascade Christian) all at once.”

Madras (2-1) at Crook County (0-3), 7 p.m.: For the third time in two years, the White Buffaloes and Cowboys meets up. Crook County dispatched the Buffs 60-52 in Madras during the regular season in 2012, but in the Class 4A play-in game, Madras returned the favor, a 33-21 decision, to seal its first postseason win since 1998. After connecting for four touchdowns in a 31-20 win over Sisters last Friday, quarterback Chad Lindgren and wideout Cody Shepherd look to lead Madras against Crook County, which fell 45-28 at The Dalles Wahtonka last week.

Sisters (0-3) at Cascade (2-1), 7 p.m.: Tristen Lewis threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns last Friday, but Sisters gave up 24 points in the second half before falling 31-20 to visiting Madras. Lewis, as well as Lane Gladden (108 yards receiving against the Buffs) and Nathan Kaping (three touchdowns last week), lead the Outlaws into Turner on Friday to take on the Cougars, who advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals last season and come off a 40-6 rout of Clatskanie last week.

Burns (1-2) at La Pine (0-2), 7 p.m.: The Hawks have struggled to get things going offensively, as shown in their 57-0 loss to Henley last week in Klamath Falls, where La Pine accumulated just 78 yards of total offense. On Friday, in their home opener, the Hawks entertain the Hilanders. Burns lost to Lakeview 28-7 last week, but the Hilanders have defeated La Pine each of the past three seasons.

Waldport (0-3) at Culver (0-1), 7 p.m.: Two weeks have passed since the Bulldogs’ last game, an 18-14 loss to Bandon/Pacific. A mid-week cancellation forced Culver to sit out last Friday’s festivities, but the Bulldogs return to action this week with a Tri-River Conference matchup against the Irish. Last season, Culver fell 48-0 at Waldport, which dropped its third straight last Friday in a 42-20 decision to Reedsport.

Gilchrist (2-0) at Prospect (1-2), 7 p.m.: The Grizzlies are off to their best start since 2007 after defeating Elkton in a 74-62 shootout last Friday. Gilchrist coach Steve Hall said afterward that four players — Trinton Koch, Mike McGregor, Jonny Heitzman and Tucker Boone — each accounted for multiple touchdowns in a Class 1A Special District 2 win, during which the Grizzlies never trailed. Gilchrist puts its flawless record on the line when it heads to Prospect, which lost to Days Creek 48-18 last week.

Mountain View coach Brian Crum would not call the Cougars’ nonconference schedule daunting.

Three straight Class 6A opponents and several high-caliber 5A programs may seem that way, but not to Crum. For the second-year coach, Mountain View’s nonleague lineup is more of a challenge. It is a test, and it will have the Cougars well-prepared for Intermountain Conference play come Oct. 11.

“It puts you under pressure,” Crum says. “Our kids, you get tested by that fire. You play yourself into shape. You get put in pressure situations against teams that can continue to throw bodies at you and teams that are able to go with one-way players instead of two-way players. You realize you have to be consistent.”

When Mountain View (2-1) hosts McNary on Friday night at 7 p.m., it will be the second straight meeting against a Central Valley Conference opponent and the third straight 6A team the Cougars will have faced.

Not only that, but the Keizer school will mark the fourth straight program that advanced to the 6A or 5A state playoffs last season. And after playing Wilsonville next week, the Cougars will have taken on four teams that finished in the top 20 of the final 6A and 5A OSAA rankings in 2012.

Intimidating, though? Not through the eyes of the Mountain View coach.

“I don’t think it’s daunting,” Crum says. “I think it’s a challenge. ... How do you approach it? What kind of challenge is it? I wouldn’t call it daunting, but you know you’ve got some games that you’ve got to get ready for.”

These first six games will help Mountain View create depth, Crum says, as the Cougars are forced to play themselves into shape. More importantly, after its nonconference schedule is in the books, Mountain View will have its identity established.

“You don’t accomplish anything by playing nobody,” Crum says. “You get out there and you test yourself. My goal when I came in two years ago ... when you schedule a preseason, you want a third of games that you think you can win, you want a third of the games that you probably think you might lose, and you want a third of the games against teams that you think you’re dead even against. By the time that you’re done with that, whether you have (played) three games or whether you have six games, you know who you are after six weeks.”

“Any time you play good teams, you’d like to think that playing at that fast tempo will pay dividends down the road,” says Bend High coach Matt Craven, whose Lava Bears (0-3) fell to 6A West Salem last week and take on perennial 5A state power Marist of Eugene on Friday night.

There is no real impact on power rankings, both Crum and Craven emphasize. Defeating a top-tier 6A program and beating a quality 4A team are calculated similarly by the OSAA computers. However, the difference in what is learned on the field is noticeable.

“Any time you play a good team, you force yourself to get better,” Craven says. “You expose areas that you can improve in. If you go out there and beat up on weak [teams], a lot of times you can’t tell the areas that you’re deficient in. It definitely lets you know areas that you can get better in.”

At Mountain View, the trial-by-fire nonleague schedule determines which players rise up to the challenge, and guys like center and defensive tackle Austin Phillips, tight end Jace Johns, and wide receiver Nick Hjelm have stepped up and answered the call, displaying high levels of confidence and realizing the level of play each can compete at.

“Our kids know that if they play the way that they can play all together,” Crum says, “then we can play with anybody.”