The Bandon football team is making its second straight trip to the playoffs, which is both a reward for this year’s team and the next step in building for the future.
The Tigers play Neah-Kah-Nie on Friday night in Rockaway Beach, north of Tillamook.
“Some of the seniors have never made it to the playoffs,” Bandon sophomore Wyatt Dyer said, referring to newcomers to the team. “It’s a good opportunity for them.”
But the vast majority of the team is younger players, especially sophomores and freshmen.
“We’re going to keep getting better,” Dyer said.
Bandon enters the playoffs on a roll, having won four straight games while averaging about five touchdowns per contest, an offensive surge that started when the Tigers went to a more run-based attack.
“We’ve gotten a lot better,” said Dyer. “We’ve picked up the pace a little bit.”
Cayton Sinay has been sensational running the ball and Dyer has had a big impact as well. And the running has helped open up the passing game with quarterback Braydon Freitag.
In Friday’s 35-8 win over Gold Beach, Dyer had a pair of touchdown runs and Freitag had a touchdown pass to Cooper Lang and scored on a quarterback keeper.
Meanwhile, the Tigers limited the Panthers to a single touchdown in the second half.
“Our defense is doing extremely good this year,” Sinay said.
A big key in that has been an improved focus on tackling, which will be especially important against Neah-Kah-Nie’s bruising fullback Tristan Bennett.
Dyer said the biggest key is “being sure to wrap up.”
Bandon also look will for another strong game up front from its veteran, yet undersized line.
“People underestimate us as a team and we surprise them with our strength and our skill,” said Matt Yarbor, Bandon’s center.
The Tigers now have earned trips to the postseason in their first two seasons and the players say that is no coincidence.
“We wouldn’t be here without him,” Yarbor said. “It’s no doubt. If he doesn’t push us, we wouldn’t be here.”
One thing Freitag has pushed this fall is extra work on Mondays, including extensive running in practice.
“It gets us in shape for the fourth quarter drive,” Sinay said.
Bandon hopes to be in a tight game with the Pirates in the fourth quarter, even though the Tigers come in seeded 14th and Neah-Kah-Nie at No. 3.
“We match up really well with Neah-Kah-Nie,” Aaron Freitag said. “We’ve just got to go take care of business.”
The winner of Friday’s game faces the winner of Saturday’s contest between Lost River and Sunset Conference champion Coquillle in the quarterfinals.