NORTH BEND — If you’re a Marshfield fan who went to bed Friday night wondering how bad this season might be, take some heart in this: While it’s not fun being on the wrong end of a lopsided score, the Pirates lost to a good football team in the Civil War — a really good football team.

North Bend was dominant in all phases of the game on the way to the 51-6 win, but that probably didn’t surprise a lot of people.

The Bulldogs have a lot of veterans back from what was a pretty solid team that beat a real good Marshfield team in the Civil War last year. Marshfield has few veterans back from that same game.

North Bend has a huge, physical, speedy and technically sound line. Marshfield can get to the physical, speedy and technically sound part with hard work in practice, but won’t get to the huge part — at least not this season.

North Bend has a quarterback (Ian Spalding) who got some seasoning last year and had the benefit of sitting behind that line and throwing to experienced receivers. Marshfield has a sophomore quarterback (Dom Montiel) who was seeing his first significant varsity time and took his lumps early and too often had too little time to throw or didn’t get help from receivers who dropped balls, but grew up a lot in the game.

And the Bulldogs were able to get their bruising running back (Divenson Willis) going for big yards early and often while Marshfield managed just one first down the entire first half.

But there were good things for the Pirates.

Despite the score, the players kept fighting to the end. The defense got better. The offense started creating some room for Josiah Niblett to eventually pick up 79 yards. Montiel completed passes to five different players.

Marshfield probably won’t see another team like North Bend until deep in the playoffs. Gladstone, which lost in the state semifinals like Marshfield last year, will be tough next week, though the Gladiators also will be coming off a loss (21-6 to defending state champion Banks). And Marist Catholic will be tough, but that’s the final game of the regular season when Marshfield and the Spartans very well could be playing for a league title.

The best news for the Pirates is there’s lots of room for growth and a tangible place to start from. The players talked after the game about needing to be physical in practice and prepare better for Friday nights.

They now have film to look at to address areas of concern.

Meanwhile, North Bend now has film to look at to address areas of concern and determine how it can get better, too.

The Bulldogs have plenty of tough games coming up.

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South Eugene, the next team coming to Vic Adams Field in two weeks, beat Wilson 45-13 on Friday. Crater, who visits the following week, won at Wilsonville 40-0. Thurston, the defending state champions coming to Vic Adams Field for the league opener the week after Crater, destroyed Churchill 54-0.

The Bulldogs have a great start to build off, though.

Willis rushed for 142 yards on 20 carries. Spalding passed for 185 yards and connected with six different receivers on a variety of passing routes. Garrison Mateski and Coleman Compton made tough catches in traffic. Bridger Holmes made big plays down the field.

The defense was phenomenal throughout the game. The special teams were very good — not just Adam Wood’s three field goals, but also downfield coverage on kickoffs.

The Pirates knew they didn’t step up to the level they needed to.

“That’s a tough team to start against, but we’ll get better,” Marshfield coach John Lemmons said.

His counterpart echoed that thought discussing the Pirates.

“(The Pirates) are going to get after some teams from here on out,” North Bend coach Gary Prince said. “There’s no doubt about it.

“They’re athletic and we’ve been there before … and it doesn’t feel good, but you learn from it, you get better, you grow and you move on and play the next game.”

So celebrate your big win Bulldogs and get ready for North Eugene next week and the challenging three home games that follow the date with the Highlanders.

And take heart Marshfield that one game doesn’t make a season and there’s a lot of chances to improve and make a playoff run this fall.

As for me, I saw enough from both teams Friday that I’m looking forward to seeing their games down the road.

The fans should be, too.

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Sports Editor John Gunther can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 241, or by email at john.gunther@theworldlink.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jguntherworld.