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South hopes to get out of losing rut

The high point of Wayne Amos? coaching career at Klamath Union was also the low point of Bill Singler's career at South Medford.

It was almost exactly one year ago — Oct. 15, 1999 — when Amos? Pelicans rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to pin an 18-17 loss on Singlers? Panthers at Spiegelberg Stadium.

The two teams meet again Friday night (7:30) at Modoc Field in Klamath Falls. And while each squad is better now than it was then, both have grown desperate for a victory.

South Medford, 2-2 in the Southern Oregon Conference and 2-3 overall, has lost three straight while Klamath Union (1-4, 0-3) has dropped four in a row since a season-opening victory over Mazama.

In other games involving SOC teams, No. 3-ranked North Medford (5-0) meets Thurston at Spiegelberg Stadium, Eagle Point (1-4) travels to Roseburg (4-2), Grants Pass (3-2) ventures to Crater (0-5) and No. 7 Ashland (4-1) journeys to Redmond (1-4).

Singler says South Medford won't be seeking revenge from last year's stunning loss.

The motivation is that we have a chance to win our third conference game and stay in the playoff hunt, he says. We're not looking backwards. We simply want to get out of our losing rut.

Both squads have shown they can move the ball and score points, but Klamath Union will be without starting tailback Brad Mejia and could be without starting quarterback Jason Mortenson, the heart and soul of the Pelicans? offense.

Mejia was ejected from last week's game for shoving an opposing player while Mortenson suffered a shoulder injury and is questionable for Friday's contest.

It's on his left side and isn't very serious so I think he?ll end up playing, Amos says of Mortenson. He had a loose shoulder to begin with and it popped out a little. But Jason's a tough kid and wants to play.

Mortenson has passed for 575 yards and five touchdowns and run for another 235 yards and three scores while operating Klamath Union's veer option offense. He fired a 78-yard touchdown pass to fullback David Trujillo that cut Klamath Union's deficit to 21-6 last week, but left the game a short time later and the Pelicans? offense was never the same.

Jason's brother, Jeff Mortenson, will take over at tailback. He is also the Pelicans? starting strong safety on defense.

While the Pelicans have just the single win under their belts, they've gone down stubbornly in all of their losses except for the one last week. They played Grants Pass tough throughout in a 21-0 loss, they trailed Roseburg just 13-8 at halftime and they rallied from a 35-8 deficit to make the score respectable (42-30) against Ashland.

This is the first time since I've been here that we've truly competed against the good teams, Amos says. We haven't beaten any of them yet, but it's a stepping stone to be able to line up and not get blown out.

The Pelicans haven't won more than one game in any season since 1993, and their record since the beginning of the ?94 season is 4-55.

Getting that second win is meaningful to us, Amos says. We're looking at this as a big game.

South Medford, meanwhile, has fallen on hard times since defeating Crater and Eagle Point in its first two games. But the Panthers showed flashes of excellence during last week's 35-14 loss to Ashland.

Singler hopes that his offense, which generated 62 points and 784 yards in its first two games, can spring back to life.

We just need to settle down and execute, he says. We need to establish our running game and give (quarterback Boomer) Marshall time to throw. If we can do that, we?ll win.

THURSTON VS. NORTH MEDFORD ?

North Medford coach Rod Rumrey admits his team could be a little flat following last Friday's 31-0 romp over Roseburg, but he expects the Black Tornado to to be ready.

As well as we played last week we still have some things to work on, Rumrey says. We didn't do a very good job of finishing our blocks and our guys have seen that on film.

I really don't think our players will take a step backwards. This is a goal-oriented group.

North Medford won a 56-35 shootout over the Colts last season in Springfield, but Thurston will find the Tornado defense much tougher this time around. North leads the SOC in total defense (168.0) and scoring defense (4.6), and held Roseburg to just 62 yards last Friday while registering eight sacks.

Linebacker Tyler Graham, tackle Norris Bier and end Curtis Stout all had monster games against the Indians.

Thurston got off to a 3-0 start this season and was in good position to claim one of Midwestern League's three playoff berths. But the Colts have lost their last two games, 13-7 to Willamette and 51-22 to Churchill last Friday.

The Colts are led by quarterback Rhett Green, running backs Anthony Mathews and Tim Frieh and wide receivers Jacob Sisler and Shea Washington, a 6-foot-5 junior who had seven catches for 143 yards and a touchdown last week.

They got some very good skill kids, Rumrey says. They're going to spread us out and throw the football.