By News-Register staff • 

WVL rivals clash on Halloween night

Two football teams will meet on the artificial turf of Gubser Field tonight at 7 p.m. and engage in multidimensional chess.

Amity travels to Dayton with everything on the line for both the Warriors and Pirates. Due to tiebreakers, the winner of tonight’s game will secure an automatic berth to the Class 3A state playoffs. The Warriors (5-3, 3-2 West Valley League) and Pirates (5-2, 3-2 WVL) may still be eligible for an at-large berth, but both teams would need help from across the state.

Timely stops will be paramount.

“With the offense we run, the spread and (offensive coordinator Joel) Magill’s genius wing-T, it’s pretty simple but teams struggle with it,” Amity coach Justin Amaya said. “Just like Dayton’s offense – it’s pretty simple. You know what they’re going to run, just like you know what we’re going to run, but then why can’t teams stop it?”

After winning two games a season ago and having low turnout early in the fall, the Warriors have shown signs of rejuvenation. Health is also improved, with quarterback/safety Lance Nelson (hand) and running back/linebacker D.J. Trunde ready to go against the Pirates.

Dayton emerged from an injury-filled 0-2 WVL start (the Pirates’ worst league start since 1981) and has now won three straight contests, the latest a 47-34 victory over Taft on Oct. 24.

“Considering all of it, I told the boys I’m proud of the way they played after two league losses,” Pirates coach Greg White said. “After poor showings in the run game, they’ve clearly bounced back.”

Dayton senior Darren Ashley will start at quarterback after having missed parts of four games after he suffered a concussion against Santiam Christian. Running backs Tyler Clark (ankle) and Chance Bowlin (shoulder) will play despite nagging injuries.

- Robert Husseman

Pride on the line for Sheridan, Willamina

The two Class 3A West Valley League schools with the least distance between them will meet on the football field Friday night as the Sheridan-Willamina rivalry is renewed at Sheridan High school. Both teams are hungry for a conference victory (they’re a combined 0-10 against WVL opposition this season) and they’ve seen each other before, playing in a jamboree way back in August.

The Bulldogs are focusing on two key issues that have pestered them all season, penalties and turnovers, in the hopes that cleaning up the little things can provide big results.

“I think, definitely, we’re looking pretty hopeful for this game,” head coach Rob Shader said. “I’ve been preaching to them all week that we’ve got to get no penalties and not turn the ball over. I know it’s going to be an emotional game; we’ve got to play classy and not get any personal foul penalties. We’re getting prepared.

Willamina will look to open up the running game against the Spartans, who aren’t quite as large up front as some of the teams they’ve faced in recent weeks, but defensive execution is a critical concern for the Bulldogs against a Sheridan offense with multiple alignments from drive to drive and even play to play.

“They’ve got a lot of interesting formations. Looking at the game film, it’s anybody’s guess as to what formation they’re going to come out in,” Shader said of the Spartans’ offensive playbook. “We’ve just got to make sure we line up correctly on defense. That’s probably the biggest thing.”

Sheridan, led by the athletic backfield duo of Dominique Card and Justin Acuff, can move the football with ease in space, and a good night for the Spartans’ offensive line could help create that space and help the Spartans defend their home ground.

- Rockne Roll

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