Oregon Prep football: Local preview—Week Five
There are several mismatches on paper for Friday; PLUS, a cancer update on Coach Robin Hill
There is an old sports adage that “on any given night, any team can beat any other team.” And that is generally true. But win-loss records can be pretty good predictors of general team success—which is why expectations about wins and losses are more or less locked in. With that said, here is a preview of Salem-Keizer teams and expectations for victory.
Sprague (2-2) at South Medford (4-0): This game starts at the oddly early time of 5:00 pm at Medford’s Spiegelberg Stadium. The host South Medford Panthers are coming off an exhilarating 48-35 win at South Salem in a battle of unbeatens. SM quarterback Deacon Edgar threw for better than 300 yards and four touchdowns, while the Panther defense yielded zero TD passes in the win.
In the meantime, Sprague throttled winless Roseburg last week, 54-17. Five different players scored for the Olympians, led by team leader Drew Rodriguez—who ran for a score, caught a TD pass, returned a kickoff for a third touchdown, and threw a 5-yard TD pass as part of a memorable night. Fullback Casen Collins had one running TD, and another on the pass by Rodriguez. The resounding win was only overshadowed by 125 yards in Oly penalties.
Without accounting for a 4 ½ hour road trip and a strange 5 pm start, it is already a difficult contest for Sprague. Their overall team numbers are low, and the size of their line is a bit small. And the home Panthers have a decided edge in total top athletes.
Sprague has a shot at a road win, but the chances are low overall. Coach Jay Minyard’s team will need an impressive performance in all four quarters to have a chance.
South Salem (3-1) at West Salem (0-4): There are two big factors working against West in the effort to record the team’s first win of the 2022 season.
First, West faces a South Salem team coming off a difficult 48-35 home loss against South Medford. The Saxons would like to remove that bad taste from their collective mouths with a quick and decisive win at West—where the Titans have ruled supreme for the past several years. South has lost the last six encounters against West.
The other factor working against West Salem’s efforts to control the game is injuries—specifically their own team injuries. In week one, the Titans lost transfer receiver Braiden Copeland to a knee injury. Last week, sophomore quarterback Kaden Martirano also suffered a season-ending injury—reportedly a broken wrist—as part of West’s 27-25 loss at Grants Pass. Losing your QB is never a good sign.
Those two elements are real negatives in a game that has traditionally been entertaining. West coach Shawn Stanley has done well in prepping for opponents with a decided advantage and continues to preach “next man up.” But he will need a little gridiron magic to take down South Salem.
South is a team still brimming with confidence, averaging nearly 40 points per game thanks to a wide open, mostly-pass oriented offense directed by quarterback Daschel Smith. The defense has also been solid, despite last week’s loss, yielding nearly 27 points a contest. Despite the loss at home, the Saxons’ drop in the state power rankings was somewhat minimal—from third down to seventh. West is rated 42nd out of the 44 teams in 6A football.
North Salem (3-1): at McNary (0-4): The McNary Celtics are still licking their collective wounds after getting thumped at home last week by unbeaten Sheldon. The Irish’s Brock Thomas scored the first points on a 60-yard TD scamper, and Sheldon never looked back—winning 62-6 in Keizer.
The Celts face a North Salem team that was rocked by North Medford. The Black Tornado shut out the visiting Vikings in the second half last week, and strolled to a 27-13 home victory.
North Medford was guided to the win by the offensive output of running back Ty Pugliano, who had two TD pass receptions, while rushing for nearly 100 yards in the game. All totaled, the Black Tornado rolled up nearly 270 yards. The NM defense was impressive as well, limiting North Salem’s vaunted rushing attack to just 43 yards on 30 carries. Vikings quarterback TC Malumaneua was one of the few bright spots for North, throwing for 170 yards and two touchdowns to junior transfer wideout Pierce Walker.
North Salem also has a memorial service Friday afternoon at Willamette University for recently deceased assistant coach Ken Slack, who passed away September seventh. Coach Jeff Flood will be attending the event before driving over to McNary. It will serve to only further motivate North to overcome last week’s difficult road loss.
5A McKay (0-4) at (1-3) Crescent Valley: McKay is coming back to Oregon football from Reno, Nevada, where they were pummeled by host Galena High, 45-7 last Friday. The long trip was billed as a great team-building contest—and it will be used in that manner by Scots coach Brandis Piper.
McKay faces a Crescent Valley squad whose only win has come against cross-town rival and basement dweller Corvallis back in week three by a score of 32-27.
The projected winner is not quite as clear as the other Salem-Keizer games, but McKay will need four full quarters of steady football effort to garner a win. The Scots lost late in their first two contests (Lebanon, Dallas) before being shut down by South Albany in week three.
Other games out of 6A Special District One involve southern Oregon schools—(2-2) North Medford at (3-1) Grants Pass, and (4-0) Sheldon at (0-3) Roseburg.
Sheldon should walk over for win #5 against a Roseburg squad still trying to find its offense after losing its starting QB to injury; Grants Pass may have the better record and home field advantage against North Medford, but the visiting Tornado has been very consistent the last two weeks, and out-size the host Cavemen.
Good health news for a former coach: Longtime Sprague football coach Robin Hill has apparently gotten the upper hand against cancer in his latest battle with the disease.
Last September, Hill had standard chemotherapy treatments done for Double Hit Lymphoma—a very aggressive form of cancer. The normal approach did shrink the tumor in his chest, but it grew back quickly. Robin and his doctors were not deterred.
In June, a new approach—used successfully on Robin’s sister—was carried out by physicians. It involved three new rounds of chemotherapy, followed by Robin’s re-engineered T-cells being transplanted into his body, using the coach’s own DNA as a weapon against the cancer.
The word Wednesday from Robin’s wife Karen is that the “scan and biopsy show complete response.” To paraphrase her, that is science speak for “fantastic news” for the now 70 year-old coach. As Karen told me later directly—it was “a complete response to the Car T Therapy, with no evidence of any cancer.”
More updates will be posted as they become available.