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Lincoln City
Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Tigers hope defense rests its case in Friday football home opener

PHOTOS BY LON FRENCH

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

League Overall Points Scored Points Allowed
Amity 0-0 1-0 51 7
Clatskanie 0-0 1-0 46 0
Madras (4A) 0-0 1-0 53 7
Rainier 0-0 1-0 58 6
Willamina 0-0 1-0 34 0
Yamhill-Carlton 0-0 1-0 42 13
Blanchet Catholic 0-0 0-1 6 47
Corbett (4A) 0-0 0-1 8 24
Dayton 0-0 0-1 13 20
Salem Academy 0-0 0-1 35 41
Scio 0-0 0-1 20 21
Taft 0-0 0-1 29 60

Taft Roster

No. Name Position Grade Height
2 Logan McLendon WR/DB 12 5-8
3 Kaden Hindman WR/S 9 5-9
4 Devon Lindquist WR/S 12 5-10
6 Zane Rowley WR/DB 10 5-4
7 Chris Lopez WR/DB 12 5-9
8 David Jin QB/DB 12 5-10
9 Kameron Kessler WR/S 12 6-1
11 Fco Ramos WR/DB 10 5-7
14 Tristan Beach WR/DB 11 5-10
15 Connor Bailey WR/DB 11 5-10
16 Darius Smith WR/DB 10 5-9
19 Antonio Suarez QB/LB 10 5-10
20 JJ French RB/LB 10 5-10
22 Tyee Fisher WR/S 12 6-5
23 Clay Nelson WR/LB 12 6-0
24 Trenton Hall WR/LB 11 5-9
25 Kaden White WR/DB 9 5-7
28 Logan Gilleo RB/LB 11 6-0
50 Dylan Rodriguez OL/DL 9 5-8
53 Micah Davis OL/DE 11 5-10
54 Eriq Aquino OL/DL 12 6-1
55 Elin Fitch OL/DE 11 6-3
56 Malachi LaFrenz OL/DL 12 6-2
57 Jace Phippen OL/DL 11 5-10
60 Chris Byrum OL/DL 12 5-8
61 Victor Carrasco C/DE 12 6-2
62 Brendan Welch OL/DL 10 5-9
66 Tyrese Hellman OL/DL 11 6-1
70 Josiah LaFrenz OL/DL 10 6-3
74 Sebastian Welch OL/DL 10 5-9
75 Dakota Steen OL/DL 9 6-0

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

League Overall Points Scored Points Allowed
Brookings-Harbor 0-0 1-0 26 6
Cascade Christian 0-0 1-0 28 0
Harrisburg 0-0 1-0 60 29
La Pine 0-0 1-0 18 12
Pleasant Hill 0-0 1-0 41 35
Santiam Christian 0-0 1-0 20 13
Sutherlin 0-0 1-0 16 13
Douglas 0-0 0-1 12 18
Hidden Valley (4A) 0-0 0-1 13 16
Siuslaw (4A) 0-0 0-1 6 74
St. Mary’s, Medford 0-0 0-1 7 51
South Umpqua 0-0 0-1 20 46

Sutherlin Roster

No. Name Position Grade Height Weight
1 Bryce Olson K/P 12 6-0 150
2 Case Wells DB/RB 11 5-10 146
3 Brandon Carr DB/WR 11 6-0 154
10 Jake Merrifield DB/RB 11 5-8 150
11 Hunter Fadness DB/RB 12 5-10 155
14 Mason Gill DB/WR 11 6-3 165
15 Anthony Friesen LB/QB 9 6-1 189
21 Hunter Strong LB/RB 11 6-0 190
22 Bryce Anderson DB/RB 12 6-0 175
24 Dillon Gurule DB/RB 12 5-10 140
26 Cade Meisner QB/QB 12 6-2 230
36 Hayden Dornan LB/WR 12 6-1 180
50 Hunter Elbert DL/OL 11 5-10 180
51 Quinton Garcia LB/OL 12 5-10 200
54 Jason Baker LB/OL 11 5-10 180
55 Will Singleton LB/OL 12 6-0 180
56 Wyatt Burns DL/OL 12 5-11 190
57 Jacob Mansfield DL/OL 12 6-0 205
63 Bryon Baker DL/OL 11 6-0 195
71 Austin Owens DL/OL 12 6-6 229
71 Scott Shepard DL/OL 12 6-5 230
74 Dayden Jacobs DL/OL 11 5-10 245
77 Zach Leprie DL/OL 12 6-0 220
87 Issac Horn LB/TE 11 6-4 210
88 JR Bailey DL/TE 12 6-5 235

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

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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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