The last time Eagle Point had to deal with a Portland Interscholastic League team, big plays led to the Eagles' demise in a 62-51 loss to Roosevelt last season.

The last time Eagle Point had to deal with a Portland Interscholastic League team, big plays led to the Eagles' demise in a 62-51 loss to Roosevelt last season.

Big plays will once again be the focus for Eagle Point tonight when ninth-ranked Jefferson comes to town in a matchup that stands to gain considerable interest across the state.

"They're pretty solid from what I'm hearing and have a lot of really good athletes," says EP coach Harry Hedrick. "They had a lot of big plays against Glencoe (two weeks ago), and that's kind of their M.O. — they're going to get those big yards."

In tonight's other games involving Southern Sky teams, Crater (1-2) is at Heritage (Wash.), No. 7 Ashland (3-0) plays host to Roosevelt (0-2), Klamath Union (1-2) plays host to Henley (2-1) and North Eugene (1-1) is at Mazama (0-3).

Eagle Point (1-2) was able to handle the Democrats (2-0) for a 35-14 road victory last season, but Jefferson has returned seven starters on offense — including breakaway threat Kalonji Paschal — and eight on defense for one of the deepest squads it's had in several years.

Paschal has moved from quarterback to wide receiver and hasn't missed a beat. The 6-foot, 165-pound senior scored on 82- and 74-yard connections from Quincy Perkins in the Demos' 42-25 win over Glencoe, the former beginning as a simple swing pass in the flat.

It's that kind of game-breaking speed that has Hedrick concerned.

"We're not the most athletic group so I'm kind of worried about mismatching," says the coach. "We're going to have to be really active and get everybody to the football and try to hang on and not give up the big play."

Jefferson's big-play ability is built off a ground attack that employs junior Marlon Miles (5-10, 165) as its main contributor. Miles had two touchdowns against Glencoe, and teammates Ian Perkins and Termine Channel added scoring runs of double-digit yardage.

The Democrats followed that effort with a 14-2 win last week over Liberty and are looking to build momentum in a program that has been somewhat stagnant in recent years.

The Eagles, meanwhile, are interested in putting forth a complete game for the first time this season.

Eagle Point led second-ranked Mountain View 20-14 at halftime last week before letting the Cougars off the hook in a 42-20 loss. The Eagles struggled in the second half thanks to a host of turnovers and missed opportunities. Eagle Point quarterback Scott Erickson tossed three interceptions — two near the end zone — and the Eagles fumbled in their own territory to aid the Cougars.

"Ball security is the key for us," says Hedrick. "If we can do that, we give ourselves a chance."

Erickson finished 24-for-40 for 240 yards against Mountain View, with Garrett Davis, Jon Taylor and Tyler Kinert gaining the bulk of the receptions. Davis leads the Southern Sky Conference with 23 receptions for 234 yards.

Eagle Point did receive a boost from sophomore quarterback Austin Marlia once he was inserted into last week's game, and Hedrick says he expects to find more ways to get the 5-7, 145-pounder involved as the season progresses.

"He runs hard and gives us a different look and brings a lot of energy into the game," says the coach.

Marlia scored on a 9-yard run and a 2-yard run against Mountain View, finishing with six carries for 46. He completed his only pass for 6 yards.

CRATER AT HERITAGE, WASH. — After two straight weeks against two of the state's top 5A programs in Wilsonville and Sherwood, Crater finally got a break last week and took advantage with a 41-21 victory over St. Helens.

D.J. Pree provided a breakout effort with 164 yards rushing on 22 carries, scoring three times on the ground and another time on a 28-yard pass from Nick Brothers.

The Comets will need a similar effort tonight when they hit the road to face Heritage High, which boasts a school enrollment that almost doubles Crater's. The Timberwolves (2-1) already own a 69-8 win over Portland's Parkrose High and are coming off a 61-8 pasting of Hudson's Bay in Washington.

In between those romps, Heritage lost starting quarterback Brian Glascoe to an injury in a 27-19 loss to Columbia River two weeks ago. Glascoe had his team up 19-0 at one point in the first half but was injured playing defense on the first play of the second half.

In his place, sophomore Garrett Grayson stepped up last week against Hudson's Bay and completed 17 of 22 passes for 376 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Grayson hit receiver Mike Blake for a 35-yard score, then went deep to Hakeem Pearson for scores of 54 and 73 yards.

Also aiding the Timberwolves is a ground game sparked by Donovan Cunningham and Ashton Clark, who combined for 259 yards and four TDs on only 18 carries last week.

ROOSEVELT AT ASHLAND — Roosevelt went through a coaching change in the offseason and the PIL's Roughriders have yet to get their feet under them. Roosevelt has been routed by Corvallis (36-0) and Wilsonville (65-12).

Ashland, however, is coming off a confidence-building 14-9 win over Corvallis that was spearheaded by a handful of defensive stands and a 15-yard interception return for a score by Andrew Hodgkins that put the Grizzlies over the top.

Matt Dierks leads the SSC in passing and has helped the Grizzlies to a remarkable plus-10 turnover ratio with six TD passes and no interceptions.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com