Here the North Douglas Warriors go to the Class 1A state football playoffs with a familiar foe laying in wait.
Twice in the past three years North Douglas has faced Crane in the postseason. The Warriors have yet to get past the Mustangs.
“It doesn’t look like we beat them in the playoffs ever, so that will be our goal,” first-year N.D. coach Rocky Rodgers said.
Rodgers will have a full deck to play with when the two teams meet at 1 p.m. Friday at Crane High.
The Warriors didn’t have all their players a week ago when they played at Falls City and suffered their worst loss of the season, 46-6. Senior Cal Parks and junior Jake Gerrard missed the game due to state-mandated suspensions after both were ejected from N.D.’s previous game against Lowell. They missed a total of seven quarters, which contributed to the Warriors dropping from 5-2 to 5-4.
“We’ll have Cal and Jake back, which will be a big help,” Rodgers said. “We didn’t play well at Falls City, at all. It’s not that we didn’t have the other two, it’s that we forgot to get off the bus.”
Parks leads the Warriors in rushing yards with more than 1,450 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns in a little more than seven games. Gerrard is one of N.D.’s top receivers and both players are integral members of the defense.
Crane, ranked No. 3, comes in at 7-2. The Mustangs handed Camas Valley its only loss of the season in Week 1 and have been one of the highest-ranked teams in the state all year.
The teams met in both 2015 and 2016. Crane dominated the ‘15 meeting, 62-14, on its home field in eastern Harney County in the first round of the playoffs. In ‘16, the game was played at Summit High School in the state semifinals and the Mustangs managed to fashion a 36-24 win.
Parks was a freshman on the 2015 team and was a major contributor on the 2016 squad. He had 21 yards rushing and 63 yards receiving against Crane in 2016.
Crane has five players left from its 2016 roster, and all of them are juniors on this year’s squad. Rixon Doman is the Mustangs’ quarterback, while Chase Joyce and Jacob Dunn are key players on both offense and defense. Crane has no seniors listed on its roster.
“They’re fairly young, with a couple of sophomores that are dynamic,” Rodgers said. “Otherwise they’re pretty vanilla, I-formation and come right at you. They’re pretty physical, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen all year.”
North Douglas left Drain at 9 a.m. Thursday for the game as Rodgers planned for a leisurely trip to keep the team fresh for the game. The Warriors were to practice in Redmond Thursday afternoon and spend the night in Burns before traveling the final 70-plus miles to Crane on Friday morning.
“We don’t have to be in a big rush,” Rodgers said. “We’re going to enjoy the trip over.”