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Rivalry Night

The La Grande Tigers will look for its first win against Baker since 2006 at 7 p.m. tonight in Bulldog Stadium. (Observer file)
The La Grande Tigers will look for its first win against Baker since 2006 at 7 p.m. tonight in Bulldog Stadium. (Observer file)
 

La Grande opens league play on the road against Baker  

Don’t think La Grande is satisfied after picking up its first win of the season , 27-25, against Weiser, Idaho, last week.

There’s no time.

“Is there weight off our shoulders, yes and no,” Tigers head coach Kenny Mace said. “The team isn’t satisfied. They want to continue to build on what we’ve done.”

The start of the Greater Oregon League schedule is here, and it begins for La Grande with a rivalry matchup against Baker City.

The Bulldogs, 2-4 overall, have a lot on the line — it’s homecoming. Baker also has a seven-game winning streak on the line. 

The last La Grande win was a 15-14 win in 2006 at Community Stadium. The last win at Bulldog Stadium came in 2005, a 20-14 win.

“It’s a program that has a winning tradition, and recent state titles,” Mace said. “It’s their homecoming and a rivalry game. They’re going to play hard. So are we.”

The Bulldogs aren’t the same team that won the state title last season, or in 2010. Baker is in a little bit of a rebuilding phase.

“They lost some playmakers from last year,” Mace said. “That doesn’t mean anything to us. We have to prepare every week like the team we’re playing is the best in the state. No one is going to take it easy on us.”

The Bulldogs, defeated Weiser this season, 32-22, and recorded a 50-21 win against Payette, Idaho, for their two wins this season.

Baker enters the game averaging 19.3 points per game, while allowing 31.3 points per game. 

Like the Tigers, Baker struggled against Fruitland, Idaho, falling 45-6. The Bulldogs enter the game on a three-game skid.

La Grande finished with 322 total yards of offense against Weiser. Quarterback Brandon Dall had one of his better games, throwing for 166 yards with three touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions.

“That chemistry is coming along,” Mace said. “It’s not just X’s and O’s. Brandon knows where the receivers are going to be, and the receivers know where they need to be. 

“We just worked this week on what we do, and trying to do it even better. The players know it works. It’s been a process over the last three weeks. But, they’ve seen it work now. It was great to see the extra motivation this week.”

The Tigers offense picked things up the last two weeks, scoring more than 20 points in those two games.

La Grande averages 16.6 points per game, while allowing 39.2 points per game on defense.

The question marks will be on defense.

The Tigers held Weiser to one score in the second half to pull out the win. But what Mace calls the strength of the team took a big hit over the last week. Defensive end Isaiah Cranford dislocated a finger in practice and is not likely to play. Tackle Jake Comfort will be out with a concussion.

“All teams have to deal with injuries,” Mace said. “We’ll take some time tomorrow to go through exactly what’s going to happen. There will probably be some junior varsity players that make the trip.”

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