EOU running back Chris McGinnis-Parker carries the ball during practice Thursday. (Casey Kellas/The Observer)
The Eastern Oregon University football team had its two-game win streak snapped last week against Rocky Mountain College.
The Mountaineers (2-4 overall, 2-3 Frontier Conference) will look to get back on track Saturday against a familiar foe in Montana Tech. The Orediggers (2-4 overall, 2-4 FC) defeated EOU 23-7 earlier this season at Community Stadium.
“We’ve had a really, really good week of practice,” EOU head coach Tim Camp said after Thursday’s practice. “That’s the one thing that I talked to them about on Sunday and Monday, is the ability to put everything else behind and just say, ‘this thing isn’t going to change itself just magically.’ It never has. We’ve been here before, and we’ll be here again in the future. But until people stand up and dig their feet into the dirt, it isn’t going to fix itself.”
The first time the Mountaineers played Montana Tech, EOU led 7-0 after the first quarter. But Tech scored 23 unanswered points to get the win.
Running back Pat Hansen ran for 180 yards for the Orediggers. Since that game, Montana Tech has changed up its quarterback situation.
True freshman Dawson Reardon made his first career start last week for sophomore Herman Tapley and led the Orediggers to a 34-14 victory over Dickinson State. Reardon completed 26-of-40 passes for 283 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for two scores.
“He does some good things,” Camp said of Reardon. “He’s a second-team all-state kid out of Montana. He can throw the ball. He makes good decisions. He was effective with the offense. I expect him to start, but if not somebody’s going to take the snaps and we’ll adjust on the run.”
Camp said that preparing for a team the second time is nothing new for him and his staff. It was just a couple of seasons ago that the Mountaineers played each team in the Frontier Conference twice in a season.
The coach said he has some things saved for the Orediggers this time, but isn’t going to limit the playbook.
“You never give them too much,” Camp said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to go into a game handcuffed, either. I’ll throw it out there. If you can get to a point where you can do it better than they can defend it, I don’t care if they know what we’re doing.”
The Orediggers started the season ranked No. 7 in the NAIA coaches’ poll, but after defeating EOU in its season opener, Montana Tech dropped four straight until last week’s win over the Blue Hawks.
Camp said the Orediggers’ struggle shows just how tough life is in the Frontier Conference.
“I think it has to do with consistency. They’re a good team,” Camp said. “But I think a little bit of it has to with the league. Seven years ago this league wasn’t like it is today. The league is better, and I think that anyone can win on any given day.”
As for Saturday, Camp said records get tossed out the window.
“They’re 2-4 too. They were conference champions last year. They’re hungry. We better be hungrier. It’ll be two good 2-4 teams battling on Saturday in Butte.”
Kickoff is set for noon PST. The game can listened to live on 103.1 FM.