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The Knappa High football team prefers to run the ball, but the Loggers would be just as happy to throw it. That’s how you score 70 points in a game, which they did last week in a 70-28 road win over Toledo.
“Knappa is a very good team that has the ability to both run the ball on offense and throw the ball when they need to,” Taft Coach Jake Tolan said. “They have a good quarterback who is a dual threat and can be very dangerous when running the ball off of the inside zone read.”
While Coach Aaron Barendse’s Loggers are unbeaten at 2-0 and ranked third in Class 2A, Taft is also coming off a victory, 14-13 at home against Sutherlin in preparation for tonight’s 7 p.m. non-league road game. Tolan said he expects to see a lot of the ball on the ground, but understands the Loggers also like to air it out on occasion.
“Their running game is very similar to Harrisburg’s running game, which we faced in Week 1 [a 60-29 season-opening road defeat] and gave up more yards than we wanted to,” Tolan said. “We feel that defensively we have made some adjustments and have improved enough since the Harrisburg game that this time we will be much more successful in stopping the run.”
The Tigers were encouraged by the five turnovers they forced and the ability of their defense to rise up and stop the Bulldogs in last week’s one-point home win against Sutherlin, Tolan said.
“Last week, our defense was able to stop a very physical, run-heavy offense in Sutherlin, and we hope to do the same [Friday] against Knappa,” he said.
“What does worry us a bit is that Knappa also has the ability to pass the ball, which will be the first team we have faced this year that poses that threat to our defense. This week, we have tried to balance our time in making adjustments to stop their shotgun running attack, while also devoting time to scheme against their passing game.”
While the Tigers kept Sutherlin out of the end zone in the second half, they also failed to score after tallying the game’s final points 13 seconds before halftime on a 5-yard TD reception by Tyee Fisher and fellow senior DeVon Lindquist’s point-after.
“Our week of practice was productive, but going on the road and traveling three-plus hours will be a challenge,” Tolan said. “I’m excited for [Friday] night. We will be playing one of the best 2A teams in the state, and the matchup will be another tough road test.”
The main goal, of course, is to return home next week to face Yamhill-Carlton with a winning record.
“We need to execute better on offense and hope the personnel adjustments we have made up front on the line will give us better protection in both the running game and passing game,” Tolan said.
All games 7 p.m.
*Denotes league game