It looks like the Roseburg offense has a big opportunity to bust out of its shell this week.

The Indians (0-3, 0-1 Southwest Conference) hit the road Friday for a league game with South (0-3, 0-1). Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

It’s no secret Roseburg is struggling on the offensive side. The Indians have scored only 22 points on the season — the fewest in Class 6A — managing just three touchdowns and one field goal.

Roseburg was held to 111 yards total offense in last week’s 33-0 loss to Grants Pass at Finlay Field.

“We need to keep the offense on the field longer and get the defense off the field,” said Roseburg first-year coach Dave Heuberger. “We need to play better. We’re playing decent defensively.”

Heuberger says senior Sam Tibbetts is still the starting quarterback, with sophomore Zack Mandera available if needed. The coach says the entire offense needs to improve in the spread formation.

“We’ve got some raw talent there,” Heuberger said. “We’d like to be further along, but I like these kids.”

South Eugene is coming off a 19-13 defeat to North Medford at Spiegelberg Stadium. The Axemen were outgained 360-164.

South features a playmaker in junior wide receiver Myles Green-Richards (6-foot, 180 pounds). Green Richards made four receptions for 100 yards against North Medford, including scoring plays of 73 and 16 yards.

The Axemen are quarterbacked by senior Parker Mannila (6-2, 175). He was 9 of 21 passing for 152 yards with two TDs and two interceptions versus the Black Tornado.

Junior running back Oskar Mertz (5-10, 200) gained 32 yards on 11 carries versus North. Mertz turned in a strong performance against Roseburg last year in South’s 30-28 victory at Finlay Field, rushing for 122 yards and two TDs.

“They’re playing decent football,” Heuberger said of the Axemen. “They have a three-year starter (Mannila) at quarterback. He’s a Doug Flutie type ... he has a good arm and scrambles around and waits for his receivers. (Green-Richards) is athletic and has good speed, and they find ways to get him the ball. Their running back (Mertz) is a physical runner.”

Heuberger admitted Grants Pass “was a hard matchup for us.” He feels the Indians match up well with South Eugene.

“It will come down to field position and turnovers,” he said. “We need to play within the scheme and what the kids are asked to do. With a game on the road we need to take care of the ball and create some turnovers, give our offense a short field.”

In other SWC games Friday: Willamette (0-3, 0-1) at Grants Pass (3-0, 1-0) and North Medford (3-0, 1-0) at Sheldon (3-0, 0-0). South Medford (1-2, 1-0) travels to South Salem (2-1, 2-1) for a nonconference contest.

South Medford forfeited a season-opening win over Wilsonville for using an ineligible player.

Sports Editor Tom Eggers can be reached at 541-957-4220 or email teggers@nrtoday.com

Tom Eggers is the sports editor for The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4220 or by email at teggers@nrtoday.com.

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