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Ashland kicks off season in Japan; Grants Pass entertains Milwaukie in '97 opener

The Ashland Grizzlies hope to answer at least one question when theyopen their 1997 football season against a Japanese all-star team Saturdayat Osaka.

The contest will be aired live by KCMX (AM-580) at 12:30 a.m. with arepeat broadcast at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Ashland coach Jim Nagel, starting his final season with the Grizzlies,hoped to settle on a starting quarterback based on the performances of ElijahJordan and Erik Nagel, who is the coach's son.

Both are right there, the elder Nagel says. I'm notsure, who will be starting.

Both backed up Southern Oregon Conference Offensive Player of the YearJeremy Guthrie last year, while Nagel was an all-conference linebacker.

Elijah probably could play somewhere else for us, but he's investedtoo much time in being a quarterback and I don't know how Erik would holdup playing quarterback and inside linebacker, and we may have to alternate.

Grants Pass is the only other SOC team launching its campaign this weekend.The Cavemen play Milwaukie in a 7:30 kickoff tonight at Mel Ingram Stadium.

Two Class 2A games involving Big Fir League teams are also on tap tonight:Yoncalla at Bonanza and Chiloquin at Glendale.

Three Cavemen enter the season with broken hands. Starting defensivetackle Josh Wright and tight end Grant Slagle are out, while offensive tackleJacob Harris might see action.

I think they all got stepped on, Grants Pass coach Tom Blanchardsays. While Grants Pass has been to the state playoffs four times in the1990s, Milwaukie hasn't been to the postseason since 1991.

Milwaukie finished fourth in the Three River League last season, postinga 3-6 mark under coach Rick Ward.

I don't know much about them, Blanchard says. RickWard was an assistant at Lewis & Clark (College) when Tom Smythe wasthere and runs a lot of same things as Tom.

Smythe now coaches at McNary in Keizer.

I think it will be a fun game. They run a real wide-open, no-huddleoffense and go no-back a lot of times, Blanchard says. Thatmight help us since we play Ashland (Sept. 5) and Ashland runs a lot ofdifferent formations.

The SOC season starts next week with four league games, while Eagle Pointentertains Intermountain Conference favorite Bend.