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Senior Tyson Wicklander and the offense have been bottled up this season, but will try to right the ship against McLoughlin at 7 p.m. tonight. (Paul Harder/The Observer)
La Grande looks to send seniors out with a league win against Pioneers
Four quarters. That’s all that’s left for the nine seniors on the La Grande football team. A final game against McLoughlin awaits the Tigers at Community Stadium at 7 p.m. tonight.
For the seniors, it’s about going out on a high note, currently staring at a possible one-win season.
“We want to go out with a win,” senior Tyson Wicklander said. “It’s been a rough four years. There hasn’t been a lot of wining. It’d be nice to get one more.”
Wins have been hard to come by during the four-year stretch for the soon-to-be graduating class, with an overall record of 8-26. That stretch also includes playing for three different head coaches.
Matt Wolcott was at the helm in 2010. Dave Collinsworth took over the following year, and Kenny Mace is in his second season as head coach.
“I’ve been in four different offensive systems in four years,” Wicklander said. “It hasn’t been easy. I’ve been at almost every postion on offense. It’s been hard to settle into anything.”
For LHS to pick up a win, the offense has to move the ball, a glaring issue during the 1-6 start to the season.
In last week’s 50-8 Greater Oregon League loss to Ontario, La Grande finished with 43 total yards of offense. The Tigers carried the ball 21 times for 15 yards and passed for 28 yards on nine completions.
La Grande’s spread attack hasn’t been as efficient as Mace had planned on. The offense has struggled to move the ball in the first year of the new scheme.
Wicklander said that he has seen improvements, though.
“I think the offensive line has been getting better each game” Wicklander said. “It’s taken some time, but I think the system is easier for them. We just need to continue to get better.”
Judging by the GOL games so far this season, La Grande and McLoughlin’s games have been eerily similar. Ontario defeated the Pioneers 50-6 Oct. 11, but Mac-Hi’s loss last week to Baker was much closer.
The Pioneers held a 7-6 lead at the half, before Baker pulled away for a 22-7 win.
The similarities don’t end there.
Offensively, the Tigers have scored 10 more points than Mac-Hi, while the Pioneers hold the edge on defense, though.
Mac-Hi allows 30.2 points per game, while La Grande allows 41.2 point.
The Pioneers head into the final game of their season with a 2-5 overall record, and still searching for their first GOL win.
Mac-Hi opened the season 2-0, picking up wins against Sisters and Dayton, Wash., outscoring its opponents 49-7 in those two games. But now it has lost five in row.
“We expect them to run the ball,” Wicklander said. “That’s what they like to do. We just need to be able to stop them and get points on the board.”
Both teams wish they could be playing in the other GOL game this week to decide the league championship, but are left hoping not to finish last in the GOL.
“Myself and the team want to go out and get this one for Coach Mace,” Wicklander said. “He’s got a great bond with the team.
“I think he’s done a great job over the last two years. It hasn’t been easy on anyone.”