OKANOGAN This year’s Backyard Brawl between rival football teams from Omak and Okanogan promises to be a memorable one.
If ever there was a David versus Goliath scenario, this could be it, come 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1.
Okanogan (7-1 overall, 5-1 league) enters the game ranked No. 11 in the state and having secured the Caribou Trail League’s No. 2 seed to crossover games. The Dogs will host Lakeside (5-3) at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8.
The Bulldogs have scored 259 points this year and given up 164.
Okanogan’s lone loss was to No. 7 Cashmere (7-1).
Omak, very much the team wanting to be the spoiler, is 0-8 this season. The Pioneers have e scored 59 points and given up 327 points.
“When Omak and Okanogan play each other, you can pretty much throw the records out the window,” Okanogan coach Erik Judd said.
Injuries hurt the Pioneers early, especially when quarterback Alex Aguilar left with a back injury.
The team has also lost players on its line.
“We are just not very deep,” Omak coach Nick Sackman said. “The guys we have are healthy.”
Okanogan, too, had to replace its quarterback.
Justin Rivas brought his elusive speed to the position when Clay Ashworth, a great passer, was injured against Connell the second week of the season.
But will the ever-improving Pioneers have enough to beat the high-flying Dogs?
“Everyone has to put their pads on and come to play,” said Sackman, who is in his eighth year as head coach. “In a rivalry game like this, underdogs have won before. We will embrace the underdog and make a big upset.”
“We have to show up and just take care of business,” said Judd, who is in his third year coaching Okanogan. “We have to play hard from the very beginning and don’t let them get any momentum. Just play Bulldog football.”
“To win we have to control the ball,” Sackman said. “Okanogan has a very opportunistic defense. In their last game they picked the ball off, picked up a fumble and jumped on a punt.
“It seems one or two touchdowns every game they score off their defense. We have to try to stay away from that, protect the ball. “Other than that, we have to limit the big play from them, and stop their option and their counter plays.”
Omak Impact Players
The wide receiver stepped into the quarterback slot about three weeks ago after Alex Aguilar could not play due to a back injury.
The 5-9 junior continues to make great strides, helping Omak score 3 touchdowns last week.
“He’s starting to understand the offense more and how the plays work that we call for him,” Omak coach Nick Sackman said. “He is getting more comfortable playing the position. The plays are coming more natural to him.”
Best-Parisien continues to play safety on defense.
Thorp has taken over the running duties.
• Kyle McGowan
• Anthony Lewis
• Yurian Gaytan
• Dylan Pakootas
• Cody Bidlen
“He carries the load for us on offense all the time,” Sackman said. “He’s getting more carries as the year goes along. He runs really hard and runs well between the tackles and has the speed to go down the line if he gets outside.”
Omak offensive line
Sackman said his offensive line will have to find a way to contain Okanogan’s defensive front, led by Jim Townsend.
“He’s a stud, there is no doubt about that,” Sackman said. “He’s probably one of the best players in the whole league, and the best defensive player in the whole league.”
Omak’s line includes tackles Kyle McGowan and Anthony Lewis, guards Yurian Gaytan and Dylan Pakootas and center Cody Bidlen.
“This is the third week these guys have played together as a group,” Sackman said. “They will need to pick up Okanogan’s blitzes. They have got to know where Mr. Townsend is all the time. We have to get at least one guy to him and slow him down, not let him get a great read and run over the top of our blocks.”
Okanogan Impact Players
Rivas moved from wide receiver into the role of quarterback after Clay Ashworth was injured in the second game of the year against Connell.
“You pretty much put the ball in his hands and watch him make plays,” Okanogan coach Erik Judd said. “I think he’s scored almost as many touchdowns on defense as offense.”
Judd said the decision to move Rivas to quarterback was made easy after the 5-9, 155-pound senior scored 5 touchdowns in the first two games.
“Whenever he touched the ball he scored touchdowns,” Judd said. “That told us, get the ball in his hands. He was the player we thought could make the most plays from the quarterback position.”
“He’s reading the runs very well and is a sure tackler,” Judd said of the 6-3, 230-pound junior. “I think he’s one of the best defensive players in the league.”
Townsend, recovered from a twisted ankle earlier this year, has been playing more and more on offense, too.
“We move him around on offense,” Judd said. “In our offense, we call him a half back, one of those wings out there. He’s mainly the lead blocker. We can put him wherever we want. It’s kind of like having another tackle on the line.”
Vargas joins Townsend on the line, making it very difficult for teams to run up the middle.
“Enrique is probably he most visible player,” Judd said, alluding to the 6-0, 225-pound senior being the vocal leader on defense.
“He plays with a lot of heart,” Judd said of his right guard. “We have a pretty good defensive line. You can’t just focus on Jim.”