The level of competition is about to go up a few notches, with the Dufur Rangers playing against the Adrian Antelopes in a 1A showdown in a 3 p.m. game Friday at a neutral site at Imbler High School.
Both teams head into play off lopsided wins, with Adrian defeating Lummi, Wash. 44-20 last Friday in Adrian.
The Antelopes fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter, but then bounced back with a 30-6 spurt in second quarter and held on in the second half for the 44-20 triumph.
Adrian had scoring plays of 69 yards (run), 40 (pass), 60 (kickoff return), 80 (pass) and 90 (run), and just one drive ending in a play of less than 40 yards (a 12-yard run that tied the game at 14 in the second frame).
Dufur coach Jack Henderson is well aware of the threats Bryson and Reagan Shira, along with 6-foot-2 inch tight end, Jett McCoy bring to this dynamic group of stout athletes.
“Adrian is one of the top three teams in the state,” the Ranger coach said. “They are fast in all their skill positions and can attack you in many ways. Offensively they can do it all, they can pound it at you as well as spread you out and create space for their playmakers.”
Bryson Shira is a game-breaking running back, who can score from anywhere on the field and Reagan Shira is a dual threat quarterback.
In having McCoy at tight end, the Antelope signal caller has a reliable pressure valve to get the ball to in open space.
Dufur, who dropped high-powered Lowell last week by a 58-38 margin, held the Red Devils scoreless over their final four fourth-quarter possessions to stay on top late.
The Rangers defense picked up three sacks, forced two turnovers, recovered a muffed punt and scooped up an onside kick attempt.
Henderson knows his team will have to be on point in order to contain an Adrian offense that scored 498 points in nine games a season ago.
“We just need to be more consistent in our alignment and make better pre-snap reads in every position,” Henderson said. “Our tackling was mediocre last week, so we need to be more physical and finish plays.”
Just as potent as the Adrian offense is, the Dufur offense can be just as dangerous with lot of talented backs and ends.
In their 20-point win over Lowell, sophomore quarterback Bailey Keever rushed nine times for 145 yards and a touchdown and completed 12 of 20 passes for 185 yards and five more scores to lead his squad.
Nick Little had a solid day on the ground with seven totes for 83 yards and a touchdown, and Trever Tibbets chipped in nine carries for 50 yards and a trip to paydirt.
Through the air, several players had their hand in leading the attack, as Dufur posted nearly 300 yards rushing and 185 yards passing for the night.
In theory, Lowell went into that matchup with a different defensive philosophy, than Adrian will institute.
Henderson said the Antelopes will fly to the ball and make things happen.
This Adrian defense allowed 24.8 points last season and has many of its components back on the roster.
Much like Dufur displayed, Adrian’s second-half adjustments were the difference in holding Lummi to just one score in the second half.
“Offensively, this game will be much different than last week,” Henderson said. “Lowell put pretty much everybody at the line of scrimmage. Adrian doesn’t tend to do that, so I would see us utilizing the run more this week. Our offensive continues to develop, which should help our ability to run the ball.”
Henderson likes an early-season test of wills for Keever, Little, Brent Sumner and company.
A key is executing in all three phases of the game and eliminating any turnovers that can turn the tide in a ball game.
“We expect all of our kids to improve each day and thus far, they have,” Henderson said. “Adrian is a major challenge which we look forward to.”