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Two juggernauts to do battle on the field

Friday’s afternoon tilt between undefeated Dufur and No. 12 Crane figures to be an early playoff preview between two programs that continue to be on the rise.

This game would certainly show Dufur where they stand in the playoff mix.

“Crane is a perennial playoff team, with tough, hard-nosed kids that don’t quit,” said Dufur coach Jack Henderson. “The 2013 Crane team is no different.”

While the Big Sky champion Rangers are ranked third in the state, they are top-5 in both scoring offense and defense, No. 2 offensively with 544 points scored in nine games so far.

They hit the field against a Mustang unit that has allowed 136 points for 17 points a contest will challenge that offensive representation.

Last week, Trever Tibbets had 240 yards of total offense, Kurt Nuevo hit paydirt for the second consecutive week and the Rangers cruised to a 58-8 victory over the Condon-Wheeler Knights.

In all, Tibbets had four catches for 100 yards and two receiving scores and racked up 19 carries for a 140 yards and two more tallies on the ground.

In the air, Cole Parke completed 7 of 11 passes for 180 yards and three scores.

It will be a chess match between Crane coach Stub Travis and Henderson, but with the stout efforts of Tibbets and Parke and company, a new dimension was added with the top effort last week by Jake Little.

In addition, Nick Little will be fully healthy for the first time in five weeks.

“Jake Little played the best game of his life last week, which makes us a much better team,” Henderson said.

“Offensively, we will continue to do what we do. Nick Little is healthy, so that is certainly a boost for us on both sides of the ball.”

Friday’s game will be a battle in trenches, a pronounced tower of strength of both programs.

Henderson highlighted the names of a robust Crane trio of Michael Casey, Quinton Nymon and Andy Casey, who weigh 225 pounds or more.

That means Austin Olson, Zach Christiansen, Brent Sumner and the big guys on the line will need to continue their stout play.

Overall, the Rangers rank fifth in the state in scoring defense, with 19.5 points allowed through nine games.

Crane’s (7-1 overall) offense is nothing to sleep on however, as quarterback Tyler Opie brings with him an arsenal of weapons.

In their eight games, the Mustangs have scored 426 points (53.2 points a game), including 64 or more points on three occasions. In their only loss, on Oct. 4 at home against Adrian, Crane was held to a season-low 20 points.

“Crane’s strength is to pound it at you, but they also spread you out and attack in space as well,” Henderson said. “Our goal to success is to continue working on fundamental improvement, as well as identifying what Crane does from each formation.”

Eight-man gridiron action starts at 1 p.m. Friday in Dufur.

Radio station 102.3 FM broadcasts the game live.

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