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Football Forecast

Thurston (3-2) at North Medford (5-0) Tonight, 7:30, at Spiegelberg Stadium Radio Broadcast, KMED (1440-AM)

More and more, North Medford is looking like a state championship contender. The Black Tornado's 31-0 victory over Roseburg last week was no fluke. Its swift, bone-jarring defense has allowed just 23 points in five games, and most of those came after coach Rod Rumrey cleared his bench. Thurston has some excellent skill-position players, notably QB Rhett Green, RBs Tim Frieh and Anthony Mathews and WRs Jacob Sisler and Shea Washington, a 6-foot-5 junior who had seven catches for 143 yards and one touchdown in the Colts? 51-22 loss to Churchill last week. But Green is likely to face a fierce pass rush — — North Medford registered eight sacks last week — and Thurston's defense is no match for a Black Tornado offense that averages an SOC-best 387 yards and 45 points per game.

— North Medford by 24.

Grants Pass (3-2) at Crater (0-5) Tonight, 7:30, at Dutch Meyer Field Radio Broadcast, KAJO (1270-AM)

After back-to-back losses to Ashland and Roseburg, Grants Pass regrouped in a big way last week with a 33-7 romp over Eagle Point and seems destined for another trip to the state playoffs. QB Nate Olson broke out of a slump with an 11-for-17, 159-yard, one-touchdown performance against EP, providing the Cavemen with the kind of balance they?ll need down the road. Grants Pass RB Brandon Hamada is the SOC's No. 2 rusher with 468 yards and the No. — scorer with 10 touchdowns and 60 points. Look for Crater's young defense to get a big dose of Hamada tonight. Crater had a bye last week, and that was helpful for junior QB Derek Petersen, who was thrown into the fire a couple of weeks ago following a season-ending injury to P.J. Price. Grants Pass has more talent, more speed and more experience.

— Grants Pass by 28.

South Medford (2-3) at Klamath Union (1-4) Tonight, 7:30, at Modoc Field Radio Broadcast, KTMT (580-AM)

Despite a three-game losing streak, South Medford can be in the thick of the state playoff race with a win tonight. The Panthers will try to re-establish a dormant running attack in the hope that sophomore QB Boomer Marshall can go to play-action passes that worked so well earlier this season. Six of Marshall's seven touchdown passes came in the Panthers? opening two games. Klamath Union QB Jason Mortenson is questionable with shoulder injury, and Pelicans RB Brad Mejia won't play after getting ejected in last week's loss to North Bend. Klamath Union rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to beat the Panthers 18-17 a year ago, but South Medford is the more-improved team.

— South Medford by 14.

Ashland (4-1) at Redmond (1-4) Tonight, 7:30, at Redmond Radio Broadcast, KCMX (880-AM)

Two teams headed in opposite directions clash in a non-conference game. Redmond has one of the state's top passers in junior QB Josh Wagenblast, who has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. But the Panthers? are giving up 39 points per game and their only victory was over Intermountain League doormat Crook County. Look for Grizzly running backs Mac Contreras and Noah Hayes-McKiernan to pick up huge chunks of yardage on the ground. Ashland coach Jim Nagel may miss his first game since taking over the program 18 years ago due to pneumonia.

— Ashland by 22.

Phoenix (2-3) at Illinois Valley (3-2) Tonight, 7 o'clock, at Cave Junction

Despite a 35-0 loss to No. — Henley last week, it's entirely possible Illinois Valley is the second best team in the Skyline Conference. Phoenix played reasonably well against Mazama but was hurt by the big play. Eric Kessler rushed for 154 yards as Phoenix rushed for 285 yards and piled up 364 yards in total offense. But the Pirates? playoff chances are ebbing away and the Cougars could prove their playoff dreams are real with a win.

— Illinois Valley by 6.

North Valley (3-2) at Hidden Valley (3-2) Tonight, 7:30, at Murphy

It's hard to tell which is the real Hidden Valley, the team that fell to Coquille, 12-7, and was trampled by Henley, 42-0. Or the one that rolled up nearly 400 yards last week against Rogue River in a 37-13 win. Chances are it will be somewhere in between. Nick Mason rushed 205 yards against the Chieftains but won't likely equal that effort against North Valley. The Knights piled up 407 yards against winless Lakeview. The team that holds on to the ball will prevail, and the hunch here is that the Knights will make fewer mistakes

— North Valley by 6.

Rogue River (0-5) at Lakeview (0-5) Tonight, 7 o'clock

The biggest game of the year for both teams. The winner will avoid the conference cellar, and the loser won't have a similar opportunity again. Rogue River scored for the first time since opening night against Hidden Valley, while Lakeview continues to have defensive woes. It looks like the Chiefs will bag a big road win.

— Rogue River by 2.

Henley (5-0) at Mazama (4-1) Tonight, 7 o'clock, at Viking Stadium, Klamath Falls

The scary thing for Mazama is this: After running its record to 5-0 with a 35-0 win over Illinois Valley, Henley was grumbling about its performance. Mazama made the most of a couple of big plays against Phoenix, but won't have such opportunities this week.

— Henley by 28.

St. Mary's (0-4) at Chiloquin (1-4) Tonight, 7 o'clock

Chiloquin led Lost River 14-13 at the half last week, but wound up losing, 38-14. If the Panthers have that kind of lead against the Crusaders, they needn't worry about losing it. Keegan Riddle rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown for Chiloquin and will be tough for St. Mary's to stop.

— Chiloquin by 22.

Cascade Christian (2-3) at Gilchrist (1-0) Saturday, 2 p.m.

This figures to be a closer game than either team had last week. Cascade had its way with St. Mary's, 36-6, while Gilchrist was on the short end of a 46-0 count to Bonanza. Challenger coach Andy Maurer said his linemen were able to work on some things last week. They?ll get to show their stuff against the Grizzlies.

— Cascade by 12.

ELSEWHERE IN THE SOUTHERN CASCADE LEAGUE -Lost River by 6 over Bonanza at Merrill.

— North Lake (2-2) at Prospect (3-2) Tonight, 7:30

Prospect goes after its fourth straight win and tries to keep pace with the Skyline A League's other unbeatens, Days Creek and Powers. The Cougars pulled out a thriller last week, 28-22 over Paisley, when QB Zach Gordon snuck in from the 2 with 10 seconds remaining. North Lake is coming off a 24-22 win over Elkton.

— Prospect by 10.

Butte Falls (1-4) at Elkton (0-4) Today, — o'clock

Butte Falls is hoping to put together two solid halves this week in search of its first Skyline A League win. The Loggers played Mapleton to a 6-6 deadlock by halftime last week, only to be outscored 36-12 after the break. Mark Lunsford had 185 rushing and receiving yards for Butte Falls and two scores. Elkton dropped a squeaker to North Lake, 24-22.

— Elkton by 8.

ELSEWHERE IN THE SKYLINE A LEAGUE -Days Creek by 4 over Mapleton at Days Creek.

Stanford (2-3) at Oregon State (4-1) Saturday, 3:30 p.m. at Reser Stadium Radio Broadcast, KMED (1440-AM)

This could be a pivotal game for OSU in its quest for the Pac-10 championship and another trip to the postseason. Stanford isn't the same team it was a year ago when it went to the Rose Bowl, although it proved in a 20-14 loss to Notre Dame last week that it can be dangerous. Beavers will try to control ball with RB Ken Simonton, the fifth-leading rusher in the nation at 162 yards per game, and mix in play-action passes from QB Jonathan Smith, who amassed 314 yards and three TDs through the air in last week's 33-30 loss to Washington. Stanford's best weapon is WR DeRonnie Pitts. Beavers have the edge on defense.

— OSU by 10.

Oregon (4-1) at Southern California (3-2) Saturday, 12:30 p.m., at Los Angeles Coliseum Radio Broadcast, KCMX (880)

Oregon could take a big step toward winning the Pac-10 Conference for the first time since 1994 with a win in this game. USC is reeling from a two-game losing streak, including a 31-15 home loss to Arizona last Saturday. Trojans? running game has been atrocious in the two losses, forcing QB Carson Palmer to do the dirty work. Look for Trojans to pound the ball early with RB Sultan McCullough. Ducks need a more consistent effort from QB Joey Harrington, who was erratic in win over Washington. Both team's kickers — Oregon's Josh Frankel and USC's David Newbury — have struggled, and either could just as easily be the hero as the goat. Trojans fight their way out of losing funk.

— USC by 4.


UCLA by 12 over California at Berkeley, Calif.; Washington by 4 over Arizona State at Tempe, Ariz.; Arizona by 14 over Washington State at Tucson, Ariz.;

— Western Oregon (3-3) at Southern Oregon (2-2) Saturday, — p.m., at Raider Stadium Radio Broadcast, KTMT (580-AM)

Emotions almost always run high in this bitter, small-college rivalry. Raiders are still smarting from last season's 59-28 loss in Monmouth that knocked them out of the NAIA playoffs. SOU has good balance on offense with QB Danny Walters and RB Dusty McGrorty, who averages 136 yards per game. Wolves rely on QB Adam Bledsoe, the younger brother of New England Patriots QB Drew.

— SOU by 7.