No. 17 Raiders look to climb higher up rankings
ASHLAND-- Southern Oregon University's 17th-ranked football team will try to edge closer to the NAIA top 10 and win its fifth game in six outings Saturday.
The Raiders (4-1) will meet Simon Fraser (3-2) in their homecoming game at — p.m. at Raider Stadium.
Southern Oregon, which churned up big yardage again behind the running exploits of senior All-American tailback Griff Yates and the passing of quarterback Dan Walters, scored its first shutout since 1991 with a 34-0 pounding of Menlo College last Saturday in Menlo, Calif.
The Raiders are off to their best start since the 1991 season.
Yates finished with 183 rushing yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns to tie the Northwest small-college record for touchdowns in a career with 56. He can move past co-leader Chad Barnett of Pacific Lutheran with a touchdown Saturday against Simon Fraser.
Simon Fraser counters with Marchi Gabriele, the 1998 Columbia Football Association rushing runner-up, who is averaging 101 yards per game.
Simon Fraser is very good offensively, says SOU head coach Jeff Olson. They have a good back in Gabriele and an excellent left-handed quarterback (Terry Kleinsmith).
Kleinsmith ranks second in the CFA in passing with an average of 228.8 yards per game and nine touchdown passes.
He (Kleinsmith) is probably one of the best quarterbacks we will face all season, says Olson.
SOU's aggressive defense forced several of Menlo's five turnovers last Saturday, and the Raiders totaled nine sacks. Linebacker J.D. Callicoatt, a former Grants Pass High player, made a career-high 17 tackles against Menlo.
J.D. is a prototypical middle linebacker, says Olson. He loves to hit and he's usually in the middle of the action.
The Raiders will be seeking to pile up more yards and points against the Clansmen after the two teams battled through a triple-overtime game last season. Simon Fraser won, 43-37.
Right now, it's our biggest game of the season,' says Olson. We need to win it to stay in good shape to make the (national) playoffs.
Walters completed 20-of-29 passes for 238 yards in the win over Menlo. It was his second-highest passing output in his three-year career at SOU.
He spread the ball around and hit six or seven different receivers, says Olson. Menlo's defense was set up to stop Griff (Yates) and the run, and Dan took advantage of that with his passing.