Lincoln City
Saturday, February 27, 2021

Tigers hope defense rests its case in Friday football home opener


friday football
Sound tackling, displayed here last week by Antonio Suarez, will be the key against Sutherlin

A week removed from surrendering 60 points in a season-opening defeat, the Taft High football coaching staff faces a perplexing problem.

How are the Tigers going to stop a Wing T attack they have traditionally struggled against?

“That’s the type of offense that has typically given our defense problems,” Taft coach Jake Tolan said of the Sutherlin High attack his team will face at 7 p.m. Friday when the Tigers open their home season at Voris Field.

The deceptive offense typically lines up three backs in a row behind center with intentions of making every play look the same for the first few steps. Expect to see running plays such as the belly, buck sweep, power, trap, counter and waggle.

”A team that is big and physical and prefers to run the ball is something we need to find a way to stop,” Tolan said.

Sutherlin coach Josh Gary’s squad is stepping down from Class 4A to the 3A Special District 2 league this season, but the Bulldogs have already shown they remain capable of playing and beating the bigger schools by opening their season with a 16-13 victory at 4A Hidden Valley. Worse for the Tigers, Gary doesn’t think his team played well when it had the ball a week ago against the Mustangs of the Skyline Conference.

“I was happy with our mental toughness while dealing with adversity,” Gary said. “We struggled on offense, but played great defense most of the game.”

Gary said his players were “still trying to get on the same page offensively.”

“We are moving from a spread offense scheme to a traditional Wing T offense and our players have many things to work on,” he said. “I think we will continue to get better offensively and we could be a playoff-caliber football team.”

Sutherlin runs at least 80 percent of the time behind senior quarterback Cade Meisner and senior running back Bryce Anderson, Gary said

“As we progress through the season, we will add multiple shifts and formations to keep the defense off balance,” he said.

Gary said he was particularly pleased with his team’s effort against a solid passing attack, citing defensive ends JR Bailey and Scott Shepard, cornerbacks Mason Gill and Brandon Carr, and safeties Hunter Fadness and Anderson, who stars both ways for the Bulldogs.

“They scored 30 points last week against a tough Harrisburg team,” Gary said of Taft’s 60-29 road loss to open the season. “Their QB [David Jin] looked solid, as well as some athletic skill players. They have a few undersized offensive linemen, but they move well.”

Tolan blamed conditioning, in part, for the Tigers’ demise against the perennially powerful Eagles. He said his team’s physicality has been the centerpiece of Taft’s preparation this week.

“Our focus has been on continuing to execute on offense, making sure defensively we are aligned correctly versus the various different offensive formations we might see Sutherlin throw at us, and increase our conditioning level,” he said. “Last week, we were tired and fatigued after one quarter. Hopefully, this Friday our conditioning will be a factor in our favor.”

Jin threw four touchdown passes in the loss, two to sophomore Fco Ramos and one each to senior Tyee Fisher and sophomore JJ French.

“We hope to come out Friday and compete,” Tolan said. “I thought we played really hard last week for two quarters against Harrisburg. This week, we will be looking to put four quarters together. We have the home crowd in our favor and hope to give everyone something to cheer for.”

Class 3A Special District 1 Standings

LeagueOverallPoints ScoredPoints Allowed
Madras (4A)0-01-0537
Blanchet Catholic0-00-1647
Corbett (4A)0-00-1824
Salem Academy0-00-13541

Taft Roster

2Logan McLendonWR/DB125-8
3Kaden HindmanWR/S95-9
4Devon LindquistWR/S125-10
6Zane RowleyWR/DB105-4
7Chris LopezWR/DB125-9
8David JinQB/DB125-10
9Kameron KesslerWR/S126-1
11Fco RamosWR/DB105-7
14Tristan BeachWR/DB115-10
15Connor BaileyWR/DB115-10
16Darius SmithWR/DB105-9
19Antonio SuarezQB/LB105-10
20JJ FrenchRB/LB105-10
22Tyee FisherWR/S126-5
23Clay NelsonWR/LB126-0
24Trenton HallWR/LB115-9
25Kaden WhiteWR/DB95-7
28Logan GilleoRB/LB116-0
50Dylan RodriguezOL/DL95-8
53Micah DavisOL/DE115-10
54Eriq AquinoOL/DL126-1
55Elin FitchOL/DE116-3
56Malachi LaFrenzOL/DL126-2
57Jace PhippenOL/DL115-10
60Chris ByrumOL/DL125-8
61Victor CarrascoC/DE126-2
62Brendan WelchOL/DL105-9
66Tyrese HellmanOL/DL116-1
70Josiah LaFrenzOL/DL106-3
74Sebastian WelchOL/DL105-9
75Dakota SteenOL/DL96-0

Taft Schedule

All games 7 p.m.

8/31 @ Harrisburg, L 60-29

9/7 vs. Sutherlin

9/14 @ Knappa

9/21 vs. Yamhill-Carlton

9/28 vs. Amity*

10/5 @ Clatskanie*

10/11@ Willamina*

10/19 vs. Dayton*

10/26 vs. Rainier*

*Denotes league game

Class 3A Special District 2 Standings

LeagueOverallPoints ScoredPoints Allowed
Cascade Christian0-01-0280
La Pine0-01-01812
Pleasant Hill0-01-04135
Santiam Christian0-01-02013
Hidden Valley (4A)0-00-11316
Siuslaw (4A)0-00-1674
St. Mary’s, Medford0-00-1751
South Umpqua0-00-12046

Sutherlin Roster

1Bryce OlsonK/P126-0150
2Case WellsDB/RB115-10146
3Brandon CarrDB/WR116-0154
10Jake MerrifieldDB/RB115-8150
11Hunter FadnessDB/RB125-10155
14Mason GillDB/WR116-3165
15Anthony FriesenLB/QB96-1189
21Hunter StrongLB/RB116-0190
22Bryce AndersonDB/RB126-0175
24Dillon GuruleDB/RB125-10140
26Cade MeisnerQB/QB126-2230
36Hayden DornanLB/WR126-1180
50Hunter ElbertDL/OL115-10180
51Quinton GarciaLB/OL125-10200
54Jason BakerLB/OL115-10180
55Will SingletonLB/OL126-0180
56Wyatt BurnsDL/OL125-11190
57Jacob MansfieldDL/OL126-0205
63Bryon BakerDL/OL116-0195
71Austin OwensDL/OL126-6229
71Scott ShepardDL/OL126-5230
74Dayden JacobsDL/OL115-10245
77Zach LeprieDL/OL126-0220
87Issac HornLB/TE116-4210
88JR BaileyDL/TE126-5235

Sutherlin Schedule

All games 7 p.m.

8/31@ Hidden Valley, W 16-12

9/7 @ Taft

9/14 vs. Douglas

9/21 @ South Umpqua

9/28 vs. La Pine*

10/5 vs. Harrisburg*

10/12 @ Santiam Christian*

10/19 vs. Pleasant Hill*

10/26 @ Siuslaw*

* denotes league game

Jim Fossum
Jim Fossumhttp://SilverandBlackToday.com
Homepage Executive Editor and former longtime Sports Editor of the near-200,000 circulation Las Vegas Review-Journal, Fossum brings 40 years of award-winning experience covering virtually every facet of print and digital journalism to Lincoln City Homepage. The former longtime reporter for the Newport News-Times and Lincoln City News Guard is also Editor-in-Chief and Senior Columnist for SilverandBlackToday.com, which covers the NFL's Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders.


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