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Football Forecast

Ashland (7-1) vs. North Medford (8-0) Tonight, 7:30, at Spiegelberg Stadium Radio Broadcasts, KMED (1440-AM) and KCMX (880-AM)

The Southern Oregon Conference championship is on the line as the No. 3-ranked Black Tornado meets the No. 7 Grizzlies. Ashland has won six straight over the Tornado and 14 of the past 15 matchups, but Grizzlies haven't met a North Medford team with this kind of talent in years. Tornado sputtered on offense last week when it squeezed out a 12-9 victory over Grants Pass and will try to re-establish its running-game dominance. Ashland, which is seeking its eighth SOC title since 1987, has been playing outstanding defense of late and will need its best effort tonight. Grizzlies will alternate QBs Cameron Voget and Bryan Clevenger, and that could keep North Medford off balance. Grizzlies come in confident, but North Medford has more offensive weapons, more team speed and more all-around talent.

— North Medford by 7.

South Medford (4-4) at Grants Pass (5-3) Tonight, 7:30, at Mel Ingram Field Radio Broadcasts, KTMT (580-AM) and KAJO (1270-AM)

South Medford can obtain a winning season for the first time since 1996 and a state playoff berth for the first time since 1994 with a victory, but Grants Pass has its own designs on the postseason and also needs a victory to advance. Grants Pass RB Brandon Hamada has had two subpar games in a row due to a concussion against Bend that limited his playing time and a North Medford defense that held him in check last week. Caveman coach Jeff Weiss wants to gets his standout back more involved in the offense tonight. South Medford will probably struggle to move the ball on the ground and will thus pin its hopes on sophomore QB Boomer Marshall, who has thrown for an SOC-best 1,270 yards along with nine touchdowns. Panthers will keep it close well into the second half but GP is the better team.

— Grants Pass by 15.

Klamath Union (2-6) at Eagle Point (1-7) Tonight, 7:30, at Eagle Stadium

Pride is about all that's left to play for in this matchup, although Klamath Union can post its first three-win season since 1993 with a victory. Eagle Point has the better defense but Klamath QB Jason Mortenson is a dangerous option runner who can take it the distance from anywhere on the field. He had a 67-yard touchdown scamper in the Pels? 28-7 win over Crater last week. Eagle Point ranks last in the SOC in rushing but Klamath Union ranks last in rushing defense, so RB Victor Shelton could find daylight operating behind a big Eagles offensive line. Home field gives Eagle Point the edge.

— Eagle Point by 7.

Crater (0-8) at Roseburg (6-2) Tonight, 7:30, at Finlay Field

A bad season hit rock bottom for winless Crater last week when the injury-riddled Comets lost to Klamath Union. Now they must take on well-rested Roseburg, which had a bye last week. The Indians want to fine-tune their offense for the state playoffs. Look for Roseburg RBs Conway Bixby, Rod Cope and Matt Manser to all have big games.

— Roseburg by 35.

North Valley (5-3) at Phoenix (2-6) Tonight, 7 o'clock, at Jack Woodward Stadium

Phoenix hasn't been able to find an offensive attack all season, most recently garnering its lone touchdown in a 14-6 home loss to Rogue River on the last play of the game. The Pirates will try to snap a four-game losing streak. The Knights have little chance at making the playoffs, but still will want to finish strong.

— North Valley by 14.

Rogue River (1-7) at Henley (8-0) Tonight, 7 o'clock, Klamath Falls

The Chieftains picked up their first win of the season in last week's 14-6 win at Phoenix. Momentum won't be any factor against third-ranked Henley, however. The Hornets boast too much firepower in quarterback Frank Gauntz and a bevy of offensive weapons to let Rogue River have a chance.

— Henley by 35.

Hidden Valley (5-3) at Illinois Valley (6-2) Tonight, 7 o'clock, Cave Junction

It wasn't long ago that Illinois Valley coach Perry Sheehan had hopes for a single victory on the season. Sheehan and the Cougars have altered their hopes dramatically this season, with IV set to make its first state playoff appearance. A look at the standings would suggest that the Mustangs need tonight's win more than the Cougars, but IV stands ready to avenge years of dismantling by Hidden Valley. Nick Mason has three 200-yard rushing efforts in the last four games for the Mustangs, while the Cougars boast a strong ground game of their own with Mike Peterson and Brandon Henry. Whoever controls the line of scrimmage controls the game.

— Illinois Valley by 2.

Mazama (4-4) at Lakeview (1-7) Tonight, 7 o'clock

The Vikings can inch closer to its third straight state playoff appearance with a must-win over the Honkers. Quarterback Brendan Quirke should be able to shred the Lakeview secondary with passes to Eric Brosterhous, while Robert Draper piles on the yards at running back.

— Mazama by 20.

Lost River (6-2) at Cascade Christian (5-3) Tonight, 7 p.m., at V.A. Dom, White City

In a battle of two evenly-matched Southern Cascade League squads, whoever can win the turnover battle should come out on top. The winner of tonight's tilt goes to state as the league's No. — team, the loser as No. 2. The Challenger's ball-control offense is led by running backs Brian Prins and Jordan Ferrell, and they will get a stiff test against a sturdy Raider defensive scheme. Look for the Challenger defense to step up as well in a close battle.

— Cascade Christian by 4.

ELSEWHERE IN THE SOUTHERN CASCADE LEAGUE -Bonanza (5-3) by 12 at Chiloquin (2-6).

— Butte Falls (4-4) at Prospect (3-5) Tonight, 7:30 p. m.

Prospect has had a fairly empty bench of late, dressing only nine players for last week's 46-22 loss to Powers. The Cougars will need more than that if they are to keep up with a Butte Falls team that overworks the scoreboard operator each week. Led by quarterback Nick Rodgers and the brother backfield of Mark and Tommy Lunsford, the Loggers are a threat each time they have the ball. Butte Falls simply has too much for this finale, even though Prospect QB Zach Gordon should make things interesting.

— Butte Falls by 12.

Days Creek (8-0) at Powers (8-0) Today, — p.m.

In a battle of unbeatens, top-ranked Powers still has the edge thanks to the strong play of quarterback Tommy Blanton. Blanton passed for four TDs and ran for another in last week's 46-22 win at Prospect as Powers managed a 36-0 halftime lead. Days Creek has been dominant this season as well, but Powers has the tradition and the home-field advantage.

— Powers by 18.

ELSEWHERE IN THE SKYLINE A LEAGUE -North Lake (2-5) by 8 at Paisley .

— Oregon (7-1) at Washington State (3-5) Saturday, 2 p.m., at Pullman, Wash. Radio Broadcast, KCMX (880)

Oregon provided its fans with enough excitement and drama to last an entire season during last Saturday's 56-55 overtime victory over Arizona State. The Ducks would just as soon grind out an uneventful, three-touchdown victory over Washington State and take another step toward the Rose Bowl. Washington State could do little right during last week's 38-9 loss to Oregon State, but the Cougars are a dangerous team offensively. They have amassed more than 400 yards of offense in five of their eight games and have a highly efficient QB in Jason Gesser, who has thrown for 1,932 yards, 16 TDs and nine interceptions. Meanwhile, Oregon QB Joey Harrington tied a school-record with six TDs passes last week. Another shootout could be in the works, but Ducks are the more well-rounded team.

— Oregon by 14.

Oregon State (7-1) at California (3-5) Saturday, 12:35 p.m., at Berkeley, Calif. Radio Broadcast, KMED (1440-AM)

Oregon State is off to its best season since 1964 and can stay alive in the Rose Bowl race with a victory over the Golden Bears. Beavers? balanced offense featuring RB Ken Simonton and QB Jonathan Smith keeps taking a toll on opposing defenses. Simonton became the first back in Pac-10 Conference history to rush for 1,000 yards as a freshman, sophomore and junior following last week's 169-yard effort against Washington State. Cal has a quality defense led by end Andre Carter, last week's Pac-10 defensive player of the week, but the Golden Bears offense is average at best.

— Oregon State by 10.

ELSEWHERE IN THE PAC-10 CONFERENCE ?

UCLA by 14 over Stanford at Pasadena; Arizona State by 5 over USC at Tempe, Ariz.; Washington by 7 over Arizona at Seattle.

— Pacific Lutheran (6-1) at Southern Oregon (4-3) Saturday, — p.m., at Raider Stadium Radio Broadcast, KTMT (580-AM)

Southern Oregon is in position for a berth in the NAIA playoffs following two straight victories, but faces a stern challenge from defending NCAA Division III national champion PLU. Raider RB Dusty McGrorty ran for 164 yards and two touchdowns last week and needs only 45 yards to become the sixth player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards. McGrorty should gain his share of yards against the Lutes. By the same token, PLU's high octane offense that averages a whopping 540 yards and 46 points per game — tops in Division III — is bound to give SOU defense fits. The Lutes? focal point is QB Chad Johnson, who has thrown for 2,210 yards and 20 touchdowns. Raiders will likely need to score more than 30 points to win.

— PLU by 14.