OAKLAND — When a team puts up 2,532 rushing yards in eight games, it’s doing something right.
That’s Oakland High’s Oakers, who enter Saturday’s OSAA Class 2A football quarterfinal game against Knappa averaging 316.5 rushing yards per game.
Senior Andrew Harrington has five games with more than 200 yards rushing and he’s averaging 233.4 yards a game. He has run for 15 of OHS’s 32 touchdowns this season.
He’d have a hard time putting up those kind of numbers without the rest of the team and the O-line in particular.
“Andrew’s a big part of the game, a big contributor, but then many of us are,” said Oakland center Tanner Sigfridson. “It’s definitely a team effort. It doesn’t rely on one guy.”
Oakland will face one of its sternest tests of the season at Astoria High School, starting at 4 p.m. Saturday. Knappa (9-0) hasn’t scored less than 36 points in a game this season and averages 46.556 points per game behind senior quarterback Kaleb Miller.
“He’s the heart of their team back there,” OHS coach Ben Lane said. “They’re going to throw the ball around, run it around, run inside zone read. If you don’t control him, you don’t control Knappa.”
That’s worked well for the Loggers thus far.
All 11 offensive starters — and 10 of 11 defensive starters — earned all-NWL recognition. Miller, a two-time first-team signal-caller, was the offensive player of the year, while linebacker Mason Hoover was the defensive player of the year. Knappa’s Aaron Barendse was the coach of the year for the second straight season.
However, Knappa’s schedule is suspect. The Loggers faced just two playoff teams: league foe Neah-Kah-Nie and Central Linn in a non-conference home game. Those squads combined for 20 points in first-round losses.
Oakland (5-3), meanwhile, played Class 4A Sutherlin and Class 3A Glide to open the season, then defeated 2A Kennedy. All three teams in the Mountain View Conference qualified for the postseason and two won their openers — Oakland at Gold Beach and second-ranked Monroe blitzed Stanfield at home.
“We’ve had eight games, and all quality opponents, too, which speaks volumes to the guys up front,” said Lane. “You look at what Glide did (5-4), Sutherlin got three wins, Kennedy is still in the playoffs.”
Kennedy plays Monroe on Saturday, with the winner of that game facing the winner of the Oakland-Knappa contest in the semifinals. That could mean a third meeting between the Oakers and the Dragons.
“Last week our word to the kids was discipline, and it’s that way again this week,” Lane said. “We have to stay home, be disciplined. If they’re going to beat us on the offensive side with their offense, we don’t want it to be the Miller kid running all over the field.”
There are two ways for the Oakers to control Knappa. The first is to shut down the Loggers’ prolific offense. The second is to control the game on offense, a task that will start up front with the line.
Sigfridson, guards Ronan Allen and Matt LaDuke and tackles Mathew Meixner and Calvin Hemmers, plus tight end Nic Freeman and super-sub Aiden Lindsey have become a cohesive unit that has shown a remarkable ability to adjust when needed.
“We’re all pretty good friends, we all know each other and we like to goof around,” Sigfridson said. “It’s just been hard to get the focus and to get everything down pat. Like Calvin Hemmers, he hasn’t played since freshman year, so he’s really gotten a lot better.
“It’s been getting us to work together and block as a line.”
When they do that, Harrington and junior Bryan Lehman have made opponents pay. Harrington has 1,634 rushing yards in seven games; Lehman is the second leading rusher with 452 in six games.
“They’re a pretty good back duo set,” said LaDuke. “But for them to have a good opportunity to make plays, we have to get the holes open and the blocks set.”
The Oakers average 418.6 yards a game and 33.9 points.
Manage that against the Loggers — who allow 9.4 points a game — and Oakland will have an excellent opportunity to advance to the semifinals for the first time since winning the 2A title in 2012.
“It’ll be a tough job, but I think we’ll be able to do it,” said LaDuke.
“I feel like our confidence is high, we just have to control it and not let it get too high, because this game is going to be a challenge,” said Sigfridson. “If we play like we did against Gold Beach — minus the fumbles — I think we’ll be OK.”