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Football Forecast

Lincoln (6-3) at North Medford (9-0) Tonight, 7:30, at Spiegelberg Stadium Radio Broadcast, KMED (1440-AM)

North Medford begins its quest for a state championship against the No. — representative from the Portland Interscholastic League. PIL teams traditionally have not fared well in the state playoffs and Lincoln will be hard pressed to keep pace with the hard-charging Black Tornado. However, the Cardinals have big-play capability with QB Cam Spies, RB James Steele and TE T. J. Jones. North Medford will attempt to control the ball behind what could be the best offensive line in the state, and the Tornado has its own home-run hitter in WR Mike Olson, who has scored at least one touchdown in eight games. This game could produce a lot of fireworks but it will ultimately be decided in the trenches, where North Medford has a decided advantage.

— North Medford by 22.

South Medford (5-4) at Churchill (8-1) Tonight, 7 p.m., at Eugene Radio Broadcast, KTMT (580-AM)

Churchill brings an eight-game winning streak into this playoff opener and might be one of the top two or three teams in the state at this point. Lancers operate out of a double-wing offense that is bound to confuse Panthers? defense. Beyond that, Churchill boasts perhaps the state's top running back in senior Niles Mittasch, who averages 8.7 yards per carry and has scored 23 touchdowns. South Medford must control the ball on offense with its running attack and short passing game, pile up first downs and score at least four touchdowns to have any chance of an upset. Lancers are still smarting from last season's 29-27 first-round playoff loss to Lake Oswego.

— Churchill by 35.

Ashland (7-2) at Clackamas (7-2) Tonight, 7 p.m., at Clackamas Radio Broadcast, KCMX (880-AM)

This could be one of the more closely contested first-round games. Clackamas is a team comprised mostly of juniors, but second-year coach Ray Baker has the Cavaliers on a roll. Clackamas runs a wide-open offense that features four receivers and no tight end. Cavalier QB Jake Spellmeyer, who has completed 61 percent of his passes, is questionable after suffering a knee injury in last week's 37-35 victory over Oregon City. If he can't play, then the Grizzlies have a big edge. Ashland also has the superior defense.

— Ashland by 10.

Roseburg (7-2) at South Albany (8-1) Tonight, 7:30, at Albany

Roseburg looks primed for another deep run into the playoffs but faces a dangerous first-round opponent in South Albany, which tied for the Valley League championship and is on a seven-game winning streak. The eighth-ranked Indians have finally gotten healthy after going through most of the season with as many as six starters out. This game matches two running offenses — Roseburg's veer attack and South Albany's double-wing alignment. Whichever team is best at controlling the ball and the clock will win.

— Roseburg by 1

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— Illinois Valley (6-3) at Marist (8-1) Tonight, 7 o'clock, at Eugene

Illinois Valley makes its first-ever state playoff appearance and faces a stiff challenge out of the chute. The Cougars, the No. — Skyline Conference team, earned the playoff berth with a 22-14 win over Hidden Valley. They?ll rely on the 1-2 running punch of Mike Petersen and Brandon Henry. The Spartans, No. 2 in the Sky-Em, ride the talents of Tim Crawley, who rushed for 183 yards and caught an 81-yard TD pass in a 31-14 win over Junction City last week.

— Marist by 14.

Philomath (7-2) at Mazama (6-3) Saturday, — p.m., at Viking Stadium, Klamath Falls

Mazama, No. 2 in the Skyline Conference, takes on a Philomath team that was docked in the top-10 rankings for most of the season before suffering two late losses. The Vikings are led by quarterback Brendan Quirke, who ran and passed for four touchdowns last week in a 26-0 rout of Lakeview. The Warriors, No. 2 in the Val-Co League, may have righted themselves with a 40-12 win over Elmira last week behind Charles Bell's two scores.

— Mazama by 4.

Cascade Christian (5-4) at North Douglas (8-1) Saturday, — p.m., at Drain

The Challengers are in the playoffs for the first time since the football program started in 1991. They're coming off a 35-12 loss to Lost River, which dropped them to No. 2 in the Southern Cascade League. Cascade has relied on the running of Brian Prins and Jordan Ferrell, but they?ll find the going tough against the Warriors. North Douglas? only loss was 36-27 to Yoncalla. During a five-game stretch, the Big Fir champ pitched three shutouts and allowed only one TD in each of the other two games.

— North Douglas by 28.

— California (3-6) at Oregon (8-1) Saturday, 12:30 p.m., at Autzen Stadium Radio Broadcast, KCMX (880)

An Oregon victory over the Golden Bears coupled with an Oregon State loss to Arizona would vault the Ducks to the Rose Bowl for the first time in six years. Oregon has given its coaches and fans a lot of anxiety the past two weeks by squeaking out overtime victories over Arizona State and Washington State. Ducks hope to win more decisively in this matchup and probably will if their defense can match its effort in earlier games. The defensive players held a closed-door meeting earlier this week to sort out their problems. Two of Cal's three wins have been over UCLA and Southern California. Ducks seeking 20th straight win at Autzen Stadium.

— Oregon by 14.

Oregon State (8-1) at Arizona (3-5) Saturday, 7 p.m., at Tucson, Arizona Radio Broadcast, KMED (1440-AM)

Four straight victories have improved the Beavers to 8-1 for the first time in school history, and they?ll try to keep their Rose Bowl hopes alive with a victory over the Wildcats. OSU tailback Ken Simonton (1,288 yards, 16 TDs) and quarterback Jonathan Smith (1,991 yards, 14 TDs) are both having superb seasons but will find the going tough against an ornery Arizona defense. Wildcats have lost their last three games by a total of 10 points and need a victory in this game to become bowl eligible.

— Arizona by 3.

ELSEWHERE IN THE PAC-10 CONFERENCE ?

Stanford by — over Arizona State at Palo Alto, Calif.; Southern California by 10 over Washington State at Los Angeles; Washington by 8 over UCLA at Seattle.

— Eastern Oregon (2-7) at Southern Oregon (4-4) Saturday, — p.m., at Raider Stadium Radio Broadcast, KTMT (580-AM)

Southern Oregon is out of the playoff picture following last week's 33-0 loss to Pacific Lutheran but can salvage a winning season with a victory. Raider tailback Dusty McGrorty needs just one yard to become the sixth player in school history to reach 1,000 yards. Look for the freshman from Warrenton to go over the 100-yard mark against an Eastern Oregon defense that gives up 33 points per game.

— Southern Oregon by 17.