Comets continue to make strides

While some might point to Crater's 1-3 record in football as a sign that the Comets have slipped a little, the folks in Central Point know better.

It's all part of a bigger picture, one that has the Comets hoping to celebrate well into November.

"We feel really good about where we're at right now," says Crater coach John Beck.

And, to a degree, the Comets should feel that way.

Crater has lost to the Nos. 3 and 4 teams in the state (Sherwood and Wilsonville, respectively) by a combined 23 points, and was dominating one of the biggest schools in Washington's Clark County (Heritage High) before succumbing in a 26-25 heartbreaker.

Instead of buckling the Comets' confidence, the close games against tough competition have broadened it.

"We've played some good football teams," says Crater junior D.J. Pree. "We could go back and say we should've done this or that, but we all know as a team how good we are and what we're capable of."

"You can look at the (1-2) San Diego Chargers," adds the tailback. "You can't tell me they're not a good football team. That's just the way it goes sometimes."

Pree and the rest of the Comets hope to take another step Friday when they play host to Springfield at 7 p.m. at Dutch Meyer Field. The Millers (2-2), who lost 24-17 in last year's matchup, are coming off a 20-0 rout of Marshall.

"It's going to be a real interesting football game," says Beck. "I think they're better than they were last year, by quite a bit. They've definitely got our players' attention and coaches' attention. We're going to have to play well to beat them."

In other games Friday involving Southern Sky teams, fifth-ranked Ashland (4-0) plays host to Marshfield (2-2), Eagle Point (2-2) is at Roosevelt (0-3), Klamath Union (2-2) plays host to Phoenix (1-2) and Mazama (0-4) is at Henley (2-2).

Leading the charge for Springfield has been running back Dusty Jarvis, who accounted for all the Millers' points against Marshall.

Jarvis carried 20 times for 90 yards and scored on a pair of 1-yard runs, and also caught a 30-yard scoring pass from Brock Auxier. For good measure, Jarvis also ran for a two-point conversion.

"He's pretty fast and shifty," Beck says of Jarvis.

On defense, Springfield also limited Marshall to minus-8 yards rushing last week. The Millers like to send a lot of pressure defensively with blitz packages, and are pretty stout in the trenches.

EAGLE POINT AT ROOSEVELT — Going for a two-point conversion in the waning seconds of last Friday's 30-29 win over then-No. 9 Jefferson was never a question for Eagle Point coach Harry Hedrick.

"We haven't hardly kicked an extra point since I've been here," says the sixth-year coach.

So what seemed like a gamble to some was, in fact, EP's best option in the face of a 29-28 deficit with 18.3 seconds to play. Scott Erickson calmly eluded pressure on the key conversion and found Tyler Kinert for the game-winner in a contest the Eagles hope to use as a springboard to bigger and better.

"I think that was important to our season right there, to make sure we got a win when we had the chance," says Hedrick.

That win did come with a cost, with Erickson suffering a slight shoulder separation on his right throwing arm two plays prior to the two-pointer. The 5-foot-9, 165-pounder was expected to practice for the first time since the injury on Wednesday, and Hedrick says the senior should be ready to go against Roosevelt.

"We're not exactly healthy going into this one, but we'll see what we can do," says Hedrick, noting a couple other starters have missed practice due to sickness and various bumps and bruises.

To lessen the load on Erickson, who has completed 114 of 173 passes for 1,177 yards and 10 TDs, the Eagles expect to give backup quarterback Ryan Smith some snaps on Friday. Smith is one of the leading receivers in the SSC, but was in a close battle with Erickson in the offseason for QB duties and can be a playmaker with his feet.

Eagle Point boasts the top offense in the league at 381 yards per game, with much of the credit going to the play up front of linemen Austin Rowley and Brian Hodgkins.

Roosevelt dropped a 35-14 contest in Ashland last week, with tailback Terrell Malley rushing for both Roughrider scores. Malley finished with 164 yards on 17 carries, and hauled in the only two pass completions of the game for Roosevelt.

MARSHFIELD AT ASHLAND — Marshfield's Kent Wigle became the second football coach to win 300 high school games in Oregon two weeks ago when his Pirates defeated Klamath Union 33-15, and Ashland has no plans on being victim No. 301.

The fifth-ranked Grizzlies are allowing an average of only nine points per game — tops in the SSC — and posted a defensive touchdown for the second straight week during last Friday's 35-14 rout of Roosevelt. Ashland has also been opportunistic on offense, averaging about 28 points through four games with a plus-12 turnover margin.

Marshfield is coming off a 34-2 dismantling by Grants Pass, but the Pirates possess a capable ground attack spurred by fullback Jesse Fox. The senior rushed for four touchdowns — all inside 12 yards — during Marshfield's win over KU. The Pirates also received two interceptions from Alexz Elletson in that game.

Wigle's career record is 300-89-2 in 37 seasons. He joined the late Dewey Sullivan (352-84-2) in the 300-win club. Roseburg coach Thurman Bell ranks third on the all-time list with 281 victories heading into Friday's matchup with Bend.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail

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