Two hot Class 3A football teams square off on Friday night in Sutherlin, with sole possession of first place in Special District 2 North on the line.
Santiam Christian of Adair Village (6-0, 2-0 SD2N) visits the Bulldogs (5-1, 2-0). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the turf field.
The Eagles are No. 3 in the OSAA 3A power rankings and No. 2 in the coaches’ poll. Sutherlin is No. 8 in the power rankings and received votes in the coaches’ poll.
Santiam Christian — which played in the 3A state title games in 2017 and 2015, losing both — has yet to be challenged this season. The Eagles average 48 points and allow 8.3 points per game.
“We have a good opportunity and are looking forward to it,” Sutherlin coach Josh Gary said. “It should be a great football game.”
The Eagles will be without two of their top players, junior running back/defensive end Marcus Fullbright (6 feet, 175 pounds) and junior tight end/defensive end Joseph MaQatish (6-9, 240). Both were ejected from last week’s 50-15 win over Siuslaw at home and must serve a one-game suspension.
Fullbright rushed for 191 yards on 11 carries and scored four touchdowns against Siuslaw.
“They still have No. 34 (sophomore Heston Bain). He’s a very good runner,” Gary said. “Their quarterback (sophomore Ely Kennel) runs the ball really well. They’re pretty balanced with the run and pass, and a key for us will be keeping their quarterback inside the pocket.”
Kennel (5-10, 180) ran for 84 yards and passed for 84 yards and two TDs last week.
Sutherlin has won five straight since opening the season with a 50-26 loss to top-ranked Hidden Valley at home. The Bulldogs whipped Harrisburg 45-7 last week on the road.
“They (Santiam Christian) haven’t played a team that runs the ball like we do,” Gary said. “If I was them, I would load up the box and make us throw the football.”
Sutherlin features a potent 1-2 rushing punch in senior Jake Merrifield and junior Josh Davis. Merrifield leads the team with 907 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Davis has 643 yards and 11 TDs.
The Bulldogs have a pair of big-play receivers on the outside in Brandon Carr and Mason Gill. Junior Tehgan Pacini directs the Wing-T offense.
Sutherlin upset S.C. 26-23 last year in Adair Village. Sutherlin, Santiam Christian and Harrisburg went on to share the league title.
“We’ll have to play our best game of the season,” Gary said.
Other Friday Games
CASCADE CHRISTIAN (5-1, 1-1 SD2S) AT DOUGLAS (0-6, 0-2) — The Challengers, No. 6 in the 3A coaches’ poll, travel to Winston to meet the winless Trojans in a Special District 2 South contest.
Cascade Christian pounded South Umpqua 60-0 last week. Douglas lost 38-25 at Brookings-Harbor, but led after three quarters. The Trojans lost running back Leevi Brown (broken collarbone) in the third quarter.
SOUTH UMPQUA (1-5, 0-2 SD2S) AT HIDDEN VALLEY (6-0, 2-0) — The Lancers face another talented league opponent, heading to to Murphy to face the No. 1 Mustangs.
Hidden Valley, which beat Cascade Christian 42-14 two weeks ago in Medford and ended the Challengers’ 40-game league winning streak dating back to 2008, averages 48.7 points and 14.2 points a game.
CRESWELL (2-4, 1-1) AT OAKLAND (5-1, 2-0 SD3) — The Oakers go after their sixth straight victory, hosting the Bulldogs in a Special District 3 game at Eddy Field.
Oakland, No. 6 in the 2A coaches’ poll and power rankings, won 21-7 at Regis last week. The run-oriented Oakers are led by junior Corbin Picknell, who has 1,424 yards rushing on the season. Quarterback Conrad Jones passed for 180 yards and one TD last week.
GLIDE (3-3, 1-1 SD5) AT LOST RIVER (4-2, 1-0) — The Wildcats face a tough task on the road, meeting the Raiders in Merrill.
Glide lost 22-13 to Rogue River last week at home, blowing a 13-point lead. Lost River hasn’t been an offensive juggernaut, getting outscored 164-117 on the season.
GOLD BEACH (0-6, 0-1) AT REEDSPORT (2-4, 0-2 SD4) — The Brave can climb out of the league cellar with a victory over the winless Panthers at Ruppe Field.
Reedsport was blown out by top 10 teams the past two weeks, losing 56-14 to Coquille and 48-6 to Toledo.
OAKRIDGE (2-4, O-3) AT ELKTON (2-3, 0-3 SD1S) — The Elks seek their first league win, hosting the Warriors in an eight-man game at 4 p.m. at Saladen Field.
Elkton lost 54-14 at No. 6 Lowell last week.
NORTH DOUGLAS (3-3, 2-1 SD1S) AT YONCALLA (2-4, 1-2) — The Warriors and Eagles will renew their North County rivalry in an eight-man contest at the Eagles’ field.
North Douglas defeated Oakridge 66-58 last week in Drain, while Yoncalla lost 48-13 at No. 10 Mapleton.
“I’ve been telling the kids all week, you’re going to run into them (the North Douglas players) 10 years from now and if they beat you they’re going to tell you about it,” Yoncalla coach Matt Bragg said. “It could be a tight game either way. I think it’s going to be won in the trenches.”
North Douglas has won eight of the past 10 meetings between the two clubs, including 30-28 last year in Drain. The Eagles last beat the Warriors in 2015.
Both teams have speed at the skill positions. North Douglas is led by Austin Frieze and Wyatt McDaniel and Yoncalla counters with Jordan Aguilar, Bryan Allen and Brandon Wigzell.
“I see a lot of resemblance,” Bragg said. “Neither team has a lot of depth. J’s offense (N.D. coach JJ Mast) is ground and pound and we’re more wide open.”
CAMAS VALLEY (5-0, 3-0 SD2W) AT MYRTLE POINT (1-5, 0-3) — The unbeaten Hornets, No. 5 in the 1A coaches’ poll, will be heavily-favored over the Bobcats in an eight-man contest.
Camas Valley is a two-headed monster at quarterback, with sophomore Jared Standley and senior Jared Hunt sharing the duties.
The Hornets average 60.4 points and allow 9.6 a game.
DAYS CREEK (5-1, 2-1 SD2W) AT GLENDALE (3-3, 2-1) — A win over the Pirates at Leckel Field would put the Wolves in position to finish second behind Camas Valley in Special District 2 West.
Days Creek ends the regular season at Butte Falls.
RIDDLE (1-5, 0-3 SD2W) AT BUTTE FALLS (4-1, 2-1) — The Irish are hoping to get their first league win, but it won’t be easy with a road trip to the Rogue Valley.
Riddle lost 62-14 to Camas Valley last week at home.