Can the Roseburg High football team put aside last week’s disappointment and give highly favored South Medford a run for its money on senior night?
That question will be answered Friday when the two teams square off in a Southwest Conference game at Finlay Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Panthers (5-1, 3-0 SWC), who are No. 6 in the OSAA Class 6A power rankings, are tied with No. 3 Sheldon for the conference lead. The Irish (7-0, 4-0) will receive a forfeit win over Willamette (2-5, 1-3) this week due to a lack of healthy players for the Wolverines.
The Indians (2-4, 1-3) are looking to bounce back after losing 30-27 to North Medford in overtime at home last week. The Black Tornado rallied from an 18-point deficit in the third quarter to beat the Tribe and put Roseburg’s postseason hopes in jeopardy.
The top four teams in the conference receive automatic berths into the playoffs.
“It takes a while to get over a loss like that,” admitted Roseburg coach Dave Heuberger. “We’re still learning to get over the hump, but our kids loved being in a great football game.”
South Medford, the defending SWC champion, will bring one of its most talented teams in school history to Roseburg.
The Panthers feature a balanced offense, averaging 369.7 yards total offense and 38 points a game. They’ve been impressive on the defensive side as well, allowing averages of 259 yards and 13.8 points.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” said South Medford coach Bill Singler. “We’re coming off two emotional weeks (against North Medford and Grants Pass), and we’re excited about our next game with Roseburg. I worry about (being emotionally ready) every week — with high school kids you never know. Roseburg is a lot better team than last year.”
South Medford’s talented senior class includes quarterback Robbie Patterson (5-11, 195), Jaylin Parnell (6-0, 200) and Chase Cota (6-4, 200).
Patterson has completed 81 of 119 passes (68 percent) for 1,198 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. He shared SWC offensive player of the year honors last year with Parnell.
Parnell has rushed for 509 yards on 89 carries and scored 10 TDs. He’s a receiving threat as well with 18 receptions for 204 yards and three scores. He turned in a big game last week in a 40-21 win over Grants Pass, running for 118 yards and four scores and returning an interception 43 yards for a TD.
Parnell’s a two-way standout; the linebacker was the conference’s defensive player of the year in 2016.
Cota — the son of former Ashland High and University of Oregon great Chad Cota — is South’s top receiver with 23 catches for 426 yards and eight TDs. He’s also averaging 8.2 yards per rushing attempt.
“They’re a battle-tested, senior-laden team,” Heuberger said of the Panthers. “When you play the better football teams I don’t think they have a true weakness. All the windows are smaller and you have to do it perfect.
“But our kids are looking forward to this opportunity. They want to compete.”
The Indians came out in a no-huddle offense last week and it paid dividends. Junior quarterback Collin Warmouth had a solid game, leading the team in rushing with 86 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns. He completed 18 of 23 passes for 135 yards and one score.
“We need to be good on third down (Friday) and move the chains,” Heuberger said. “Take opportunities when they’re there, but be patient and pick away at them.”
Warmouth has passed for 561 yards and five TDs on the season. Sophomore Doran Gillespie is the Tribe’s top rusher with 440 yards and three TDs, while Garrett Russell is the top receiver with 20 catches for 276 yards and one TD.
“I like what (the Indians) are doing offensively,” said Singler. “They’re spreading it out and putting it in the quarterback’s hands, and getting the ball to kids in space. (Warmouth) will hit people if they’re open and I like how he makes plays with his legs.”
The Indians will be without their best defensive player, middle linebacker Zack Mandera. The junior injured his right ankle in the third quarter last week. Senior lineman Tyler Sconce (shoulder) is also out.
Roseburg could start as many as eight sophomores, Heuberger said.
The other SWC game Friday has Grants Pass (4-2, 2-1) at North Medford (2-4, 2-2). South Eugene (1-5, 0-4) has a bye.
NOTES — Sheldon is No. 1 in this week’s 6A media poll conducted by The Oregonian/OregonLive. Clackamas is No. 2, Tigard No. 3, West Linn No. 4, Jesuit No. 5, South Medford No. 6, Lake Oswego No. 7, Central Catholic No. 8, West Salem No. 9 and Sprague No. 10.
In 4A, Cottage Grove is No. 1. Marshfield holds the No. 2 spot, Scappoose is No. 3, Banks No. 4, North Bend No. 5, Henley No. 6, Sweet Home No. 7, Mazama No. 8, La Grande No. 9 and Cascade No. 10. South Umpqua received 12 votes.