NORTH BEND — It’s an unfamiliar position for the North Bend Bulldogs, recovering from a loss.
They went all last year without a defeat, and hadn’t dropped a Far West League game in more than four seasons. Then came the 33-6 loss at South Umpqua last Friday, and with a game at Douglas this week and the massive, cross-town rivalry with Marshfield looming next week, North Bend doesn’t have any time to lick its wounds.
“Sometimes you can learn more about your kids from a loss than a win,” Bulldogs head coach Gary Prince said at practice on Monday. “Sometimes you actually learn a little bit more. We told our kids, ‘Let’s be ready to get back to work Monday.’ They’re open to that. So we’ll be working today to correct things and make some adjustments so we can have few and far between of those situations.”
A small group of Bulldogs has taken it upon itself to right the ship.
The captains, lead by Gio Byers and Jakob Hamblet, have taken the refocusing effort personally. Hamblet, in his usual manner, was loud, imploring his defensive group to pick it up. Byers was a little quieter but offering the same intensity.
“We kind of blamed our captains, myself and some other seniors,” Byers said. “We plan to take initiative. We think we’ve been too easy on the guys. We’re gonna make a change for sure.”
North Bend will have to make some tactical changes, as well.
The Bulldogs have run the ball well this season, but haven’t had much success through the air, prompting the possibility of trying a quarterback change. North Bend hopes that by moving Byers, who is the Bulldog’s best receiver, outside and sliding freshman Coleman Compton behind center it can create more opportunities downfield to open up defenses.
Byers learned about the idea at lunch on Monday and was excited about it.
“I was like, ‘You’re kidding,’” Byers said. “Then we got here and I’m running routes. It feels like I’m home.”
Hamblet likes it too.
“Gio’s a playmaker no matter where you put him,” he said. “You’re sitting here and you send him out to the slot or wideout, they’re gonna move more guys to cover him because he’s a stud. It should help the run game. It should help the pass game. Coleman will find him. He’s a great quarterback with great vision.”
Perhaps more important than the schemes, though, is North Bend itself.
“They understand the situation we’ve created for ourselves,” Prince said. “It’s our desire to get the No. 1 seed out of the Far West League, it’s got a little more difficult for us. We’re gonna have to figure some things out. We might have to be ready to play a play-in game soon. We have to get better.”
North Bend’s last tune-up before the Civil War and the postseason is this Friday, when the Bulldogs play at Douglas at 7 p.m.