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La Grande Observer 11/28/14

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SEMIFINAL REMATCH FOR POWDER VALLEY

Semifinal rematch for Powder Valley ().
Semifinal rematch for Powder Valley ().

By Pierre LaBossire

Observer Staff Writer

It's a chance for revenge — and redemption — for the Powder Valley Badgers this weekend.

Last year, the Badgers played St. Paul in the 1A football state semifinals, and held a 34-30 lead going into the fourth quarter.

St. Paul answered with 42 unanswered points to win going away 72-34.

This year, the Badgers are one year older and one year wiser. And they get St. Paul again — again in the 1A state semifinals.

The Badgers will play the Buckaroos at noon Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium. The winner will move on to the 1A State Championship, against either Dufur or Perrydale, on Nov. 30.

Powder Valley head coach Alan Stanfield said the Badgers' talented quarterback, Todd Baxter, got hurt in that game and missed the second half.

"(And) we overlooked them (St. Paul) last year," said Stanfield. The Badgers were looking forward to playing Dufur in the state championship. Dufur ended up beating St. Paul 30-8 for the state title.

The Badgers learned a tough lesson not to overlook anyone at this level. Powder Valley (10-0) has dominated and has been ranked No. 1 all season.

While many coaches argue that the state polls are not that important, they have been accurate for 1A football. The top four ranked teams in the state — Powder Valley, Perrydale (No. 2), Dufur (No. 3), and St. Paul (No. 4) are all in the semifinals.

Powder Valley is averaging 60.6 points a game, but Stanfield said defense will be the key from this point on.

Stanfield said all four teams left in the playoffs have extremely good offenses. Powder Valley is averaging 60.6 points a game.

Last week, Stanfield said the Badgers put forth a "tremendous effort" on defense, keeping in check Ione's star running back, Andrew Reitmann.

They will have an even bigger challenge this week to contain the Buckaroos' star running back, Manuel Ramos. Ramos rushed for 300 yards last year against the Badgers.

Nose guard Brad Feik has been a terror on defense during the playoffs. He had five quarterback sacks last week alone against Ione.

"He's been unblockable the last couple of weeks," said Stanfield.

Stanfield said Powder Valley's defensive linemen may not be as big as St. Paul's offensive line, but they are quick.

Powder Valley's offense is led by Baxter, who threw for 408 yards in last week's quarterfinal win over Ione, and a quintet of speedy and talented runners and receivers (David Dozhier, Cody Taylor, Kaycee Shroyer, Deven Thompson and Arden Perkins).

Stanfield said all of the four remaining teams have good running games, and he thought one advantage the Badgers may have over their opponents is a better balance between running and passing.

"Most everyone (at this level) can run. If we can throw the ball, that doubles our threat on offense," he said.

The game will be played on artificial turf. Stanfield doesn't think this will give Powder Valley an advantage. He said that while the Badgers are built around their speed, every team at this level is fast.

The Dufur-Perrydale semifinal will take place at Hillsboro Stadium at 3 p.m. Saturday, immediately following the Powder Valley game.

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