LA GRANDE — The La Grande High School football team is out for revenge.
After a 34-12 victory over Gladstone in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs, the Tigers are slated to travel to Estacada for a rematch with the team that in Week 3 handed La Grande its only loss of the season. Riding a five-game winning streak, La Grande is hoping to avenge the 44-14 loss to the Rangers.
“I had a gut feeling the first time we played them that we would see them again,” head coach Rich McIlmoil said. “It’s going to be fun. The boys are excited for this rematch.”
After a close start between the Tigers and Gladiators on Friday, Nov. 5, at Community Stadium, La Grande broke down Gladstone’s opposing defense with its consistent rushing attack led by senior Brody MacMillan. He finished with 103 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
La Grande outperformed Gladstone from top to bottom, scoring 21 unanswered points midway through the game and coming up with huge stops late in the contest.
In the first matchup with Estacada, the Tigers looked outmatched in nearly every aspect of the game. The Rangers’ menacing option rushing attack made it impossible for La Grande to mount a comeback.
The matchup was also the first game of the season for MacMillan, who missed most of his junior year and the start of this season with a leg injury. Since his return, La Grande has established a bruising ground-and-pound identity on offense.
A noticeable improvement for La Grande has been the play of junior quarterback Logan Williams, who was stellar against Gladstone. Williams finished the game with 180 passing yards and two touchdowns, and added 79 rushing yards. In the loss to Estacada on Sept. 23, Williams was held to just 68 passing yards and 50 rushing yards.
McIlmoil noted that Williams has not only improved his play under center, but that he has also become one of the team leaders.
“He’s really off the charts with his leadership ability,” McIlmoil said. “We’re just really coming together as a team right now and he’s taking that leadership role.”
The Tigers will be hoping that the team’s improvement over the course of the season will create a more favorable outcome this time around. Kickoff between La Grande and Estacada is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Estacada High School on Friday, Nov. 12.
“Even when we lost early in the season, I told the guys that it might not be the last time we see that team,” McIlmoil said. “They’re excited to get after it.”