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Walters earns the start as Raider QB

Yates zeroes in on school mark

ASHLAND -- With record-setting tailback Griff Yates serving as the focal point of the offense, sophomore quarterback Dan Walters eagerly awaits his first starting assignment for Southern Oregon.

The Raiders are host to Menlo College, an NCAA Division III team from Atherton, Calif. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

It's nice to have a back like Griff back there because it takes the heat off me, says Walters, who quietly completed 12 of 13 passes for 119 yards and one touchdown in SOU's 58-21 win over Pacific Lutheran University last Saturday.

Walters' fine numbers in relief of starter Shawn Sharp were barely noticeable because of Yates.

The sophomore from Coquille ran for 348 yards on 38 carries and scored five touchdowns.

The output leaves Yates within 19 yards of breaking the school rushing record held by Dennis Shields. Shields, who also is from Coquille, gained 2,425 yards from 1974-77. He'll be on hand to present the game ball to Yates should the record fall.

When we even fake the ball to Griff, says Walters, the linebackers have to suck up in and the middle is wide open. It's nice to see receivers wide open like that.

My job is to go out there and move the chains. Hopefully, play-action passes will loosen the defense and give Griff more room to run.

Last week, Walters took over for a struggling Sharp in the second quarter. He was 8-for-8 passing in his first series and led the Raiders to a touchdown -- him passing 15 yards to former Eagle Point High player Toby Taylor. His play impressed coach Jeff Olson.

I knew Dan was capable of doing what he did, says Olson. He came in and took charge when he got his chance. That's why he earned the start this week.

Southern Oregon visited Menlo last year and won, 44-20.

The Oaks are 1-2 this year.

They move the ball well and they have good talent, says Olson. They throw the ball very well, and they have a big, physical running back (Dan Nguyen).

Quarterback John DeVille of Menlo has completed 65 of 96 passes for 794 yards and five touchdowns. The Oaks led Wisconsin-Oshkosh 30-16 in the third quarter last Saturday but lost, 41-38.

Former North Medford player Will Salade will make his first start for the Raiders at free safety.

He played real well there last week, and we will keep him right there, says Olson. He's really filled in for the loss of Jenner Yriarte.

Yriarte, a junior from Eugene who led the Columbia Football Association in pass interceptions last season with six, is out for the season with a broken wrist.

He's expected to regain his junior year of eligibility as a medical redshirt, says Olson.

RAIDER NOTES -- Southern Oregon Sports Information Director Rich Rosenthal started a campaign this week promoting Yates as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Question is: Can an NAIA player win it? Answer: No. The closest thing to a Heisman-like award at the NAIA level is the NAIA Player of the Year award. Right now, Yates

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looks like a front-runner, but it's a long season ... if Yates breaks the SOU career rushing record Saturday, he will also run past No. 2 SOU career rusher Jeff Southern (2,414 yards) ... The Raiders lead the CFA in total offense (465 yards per game) and rank first in pass defense (138.0).