No. 1 Grizzlies gird for feisty Eagles
ASHLAND -- Top-rated Ashland faces test No. 2 of what coach Jim Nagelcalls the big three games of its schedule tonight.
The Grizzlies (3-0), who defeated North Medford 38-7 last Friday nightto successfully begin their quest to win the toughest three-game portionof their schedule, meet Eagle Point tonight at Walter A. Phillips Fieldin Ashland.
In other Southern Oregon Conference games tonight, Crater will meet Mazamain Central Point; North Medford and South Medford collide at SpiegelbergStadium; and Klamath Union plays at Roseburg.
All games start at 7:30 p.m.
Ashland meets fifth-ranked and undefeated Roseburg, the two-time defendingstate champion, a week from tonight at Roseburg in the game of the yearto decide the Southern Oregon Conference title next Friday night.
Nagel says he doesn't fear any kind of complacency among his playersas the Grizzlies brace for Eagle Point, with Roseburg looming next on theirschedule.
As far as I can tell, there hasn't been any looking ahead to nextweek among our players this week, says Nagel. I've been talkingto them all week about continuing to get better and not taking anythingabout Eagle Point for granted.
We won't, says Nagel. I'm confident of that.
The Eagles pounded Klamath Union 46-0 last Friday night to improve theirrecord to 2-1 and their Southern Oregon Conference record to 1-1.
They (the Eagles) are a team full of potential, says Nagel.They were a team that I felt would be right up there in the conferencethis year, and in the state rankings.
I don't think they have fully played in sync yet this year, andit could happen against us, says Nagel. We need to be ready.
The Eagles feature offensive and defensive tackles Steve Wyatt (6-1,260 pounds) and Robbie Fleetes (6-2, 275). We have pretty good size,but not that big, says Nagel. Eagle Point has some huge linemen.They are a big, talented team.
Eagle Point quarterback Dan Shopp had his best game of the season againstKlamath Union with 13 completions in 24 attempts for 258 yards and threetouchdowns.
Shopp also intercepted a Klamath pass and returned it 27 yards for atouchdown from his safety position.
He threw the ball accurately, and probably had his best overallgame, says Eagle Point coach Mike Johnston. He spread the ballaround to all of his receivers because Luke Scott was getting a lot of extraattention from Klamath's defense. He's looked good in practice again thisweek, which is encouraging.
After a loss at Roseburg two weeks ago, the Eagles are anxious to showthey can compete against a ranked team, according to Johnston.
I really don't know how good we are yet, says Johnston. I'dlike to find out.
More than thinking about beating the No. — team in the state, I'dlike us to concentrate on playing our best football, says Johnston.Then we see what happens. If that isn't good enough to win, then wemove on.
Ashland totaled 243 yards rushing in defeating North Medford last Fridaynight.
My biggest premise going into the game is not letting Ashland dominatethe game with its running game, says Johnston. We know aboutall of their skill players, but we can't let them run it down our throat.
Fullback Ben Ross ran for 112 yards on 16 carries and two touchdownsagainst North Medford.
Crater (2-1) will try to bounce back from a 35-3 loss at Grants Passlast Friday night. Mazama (2-1) is off to its best start in five years.The winner will stay in good position to earn one of the SOC's four stateplayoff berths.