By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

Payne hopeful about return

The theme of the week for the McMinnville football team has been rest and recovery.

Since the Grizzlies played Oct. 26 at Century (a 34-7 loss), McMinnville coach Don Rutschman has been trying to give players the time off they need to heal up and prepare for the first round of the 6A state playoffs, which kick off tonight with the play-in round.

The Grizzlies automatically qualified for the first round of the playoffs with a fourth-place finish in the Pacific Conference and most likely will play at home Nov. 9.

“With another week to get healthy, hopefully we’ll be at full strength,” Rutschman said, “and I think we can give anyone a good football game.”

A handful of players were out for Mac’s game at Century and even more played with minor injuries, but the Grizzlies got a boost Monday when Spencer Payne laced up his cleats for the first time since having an appendectomy before the Tualatin game three weeks ago.

“I felt like I could have gone last week,” Payne said. “It’s more of the doctor and my mom who wouldn’t let me.”

Rutschman is still siding with the cautious approach.

“Spencer is questionable,” he said.

Payne said last week he wasn’t able to do much, though he started conditioning. For him, Mac winning vs. Glencoe to secure a bye week was important.

“Another week to rest,” Payne said. “It’s going to be good. It’s going to be fun.”

If Payne does play in the playoff game, it will provide the Grizzlies with some much needed depth in the rushing game. Tualatin and Century were able to take away the rush and force quarterback to throw more than he was accustomed to.

Payne said he was looking forward to playing at home again if everything holds up. He was in street clothes for Senior Night vs. Glencoe and wants to get back out there.

“I’ve never seen this place for a home playoff game,” Payne said. “I hope it’s going to be exciting and a lot of people come. It’s going to be a fun game.”

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