COOS BAY — Based on the Oregon School Activities Association power rankings, Banks probably would be heavily favored against Marshfield in their Class 4A football first-round playoff game Friday night.
But the Pirates are entering the contest with confidence, excited about the opportunity.
“It’s always big to get the opportunity to knock off the big dog,” Marshfield’s Tandy Martin said.
The Braves have rolled to a perfect record while allowing an average of just nine points a game and scoring an average of almost 35 themselves.
Marshfield coach John Lemmons has a lot of respect for the Braves, for good reason.
“They’re a good football team,” he said. “Very well-coached. They do a lot of things well.”
The two teams are familiar with each other.
Banks eliminated the Pirates in the semifinals last year on the way to winning the title. They also beat Marshfield in the first round in a thriller at Coos Bay the year before Lemmons became head coach.
Going back to last season, the Braves are on a 19-game win streak.
“They’re not No. 1 for nothing,” said Robert Fisher. “But they’re beatable.”
The Pirates figure they just need to play their best game of the season, which would give them a great chance.
“We need to clean up the mistakes that bit us in the Marist game,” Lemmons said, referring back to Marshfield’s loss to Marist Catholic in the regular-season finale, when a win would have given the Pirates a league title and home playoff game.
“The big thing is to win the turnover battle.”
Marshfield also needs to limit its penalties and, the big lesson from last year’s playoff game, keep track of the Banks quarterback.
“If we could have contained the quarterback, we would have beat them (last year),” Fisher said.
The Pirates feel they can match up with the Banks receivers in the passing game and can take advantage of their own power on offense.
“I would say our run game is definitely more dominant,” Martin said.
The Pirates also have confidence in their passing attack behind sophomore quarterback Dom Montiel, who has gotten better and better as the season progressed.
“He’s not even the same kid he was (at the start of the season),” Martin said, adding that Montiel has become a lot more mature as the season has progressed.
“He’s just going to continue to get better,” added Fisher.
Maturity has been a theme for the entire team.
Marshfield returned almost no starters and took its lumps in the season opener against North Bend and played a poor second half in a week 2 loss to Gladstone.
“We’re a completely different team from week 1,” Martin said. “A lot of guys we started week 1 hadn’t started a varsity game.
“Once you get a couple games under your belt, everyone gets more comfortable.”
The Pirates won five of their last six games. But their power ranking suffered because four of their wins came against teams that combined for two wins.
Marshfield is a top-10 team in the coaches poll, which Lemmons said feels about right.
That might be surprising, giving how little experience the team returned this fall.
“There’s a lot of people that didn’t think we’d be here right now,” he said.
Marshfield finished at No. 15 in the power rankings, but was bumped down to the No. 16 seed because Tillamook couldn’t play Banks in the first round since they are both from the Cowapa League.
That left Marshfield with the challenge against the Braves, and the Pirates plan to make the most of it.
“What a great opportunity to have a shot at going up and playing No. 1,” Lemmons said.
Lemmons was recognized as coach of the year for the third straight season when the Sky-Em League coaches gathered for their all-league meeting.
Marshfield also had players who shared offensive and defensive player of the year honors with players from Marist Catholic.
Running back Josiah Nibett was co-player of the year on offense with Marist quarterback Max Campbell, while Marshfield linebacker Ezra Waterman was co-defensive MVP with Marist defensive back Hagan Stephenson.
Niblett was joined on the first-team offense by Martin at tight end, Fisher at guard and Ryan Knight at tackle.
On defense, Fisher was named to the first team at line, with Waterman at inside linebacker, Niblett and Liam Webster at outside linebacker and Noah Niblett at defensive back.
Marshfield’s Arturo Ledesma was the first-team kicker and punter.
Webster was named to the second team at receiver, while Shaun Skinner was on the second-team defensive line and Martin was honored at defensive back.
Montiel was named honorable mention at quarterback, while Waterman was honored at slot receiver and Miles Calhoun on the offensive line. Traver Matthews was honored on the defensive line and Sam Grayson as a return specialist.
Sky-Em League Football
Co-Offensive MVP: Josiah Niblett, Marshfield, and Max Campbell, Marist Catholic
Co-Defensive MVP: Hagan Stephenson, Marist Catholic, and Ezra Waterman, Marshfield
Coach of the Year: John Lemmons
Quarterback: Max Campbell, sr, Marist Catholic. Running Back: Josiah Niblett, sr, Marshfield; Bryce Sawyer, sr, Elmira; Lucas Tuski, soph, Marist Catholic. Slot Back: Lucas Patterson, Marist Catholic. Wide Receiver: Hagan Stephenson, jr, Marist Catholic; Estifanos Gerdes, sr, Junction City; Dylan Martin, jr, Marist Catholic. Tight End: Tandy Martin, Marshfield. Center: Josiah McPherson, jr, Marist Catholic. Guard: Bryer Moore, jr, Junction City; Robert Fisher, sr, Marshfield. Tackle: Kenny Weber, sr, Marist Catholic; Ryan Knight, sr, Marshfield.
Defensive Line: Cobyn Herbert, jr, Elmira; Kross Gallago, jr, Marist Catholic; Kenny Webster, sr, Marist Catholic; Robert Fisher, sr, Marshfield. Inside Linebacker: Ezra Waterman, soph, Marshfield; Trace Nelson, sr, Cottage Grove; KC Kimble, jr, Marist Catholic. Outside Linebacker: Hayden Loboy, sr, Marist Catholic; Josiah Niblett, sr, Marshfield; Liam Webster, sr, Marshfield. Defensive Back: Hagan Stephenson, jr, Marist Catholic; Lucas Patterson, jr, Marist Catholic; Bryce Sawyer, sr, Elmira; Noah Niblett, jr, Marshfield.
Kicker: Arturo Ledesma, sr, Marshfield. Punter: Arturo Ledesma, sr, Marshfield. Return Specialist: Hagan Stephenson, jr, Marist Catholic.
Quarterback: Cobyn Herbert, jr, Elmira. Running Back: Tanner Gibson, sr, Junction City; Daetryal Berry, sr, Cottage Grove. Slot Back: Jacob Dunn, sr, Cottage Grove. Wide Receiver: Joey Laing, jr, Marist Catholic; Liam Webster, sr, Marshfield. Tight End: Michael Lee, sr, Marist Catholic. Center: Christian McCawley, sr, Elmira. Guard: Kross Gallago, jr, Marist Catholic. Tackle: Dalton Stinger, jr, Junction City; Sam Svingen, jr, Marist Catholic.
Defensive Line: Josiah Hernandez, sr, Elmira; Wade Wartenbee, sr, Elmira; Kale Paslay, soph, Marist Catholic; Shaun Skinner, jr, Marshfield. Inside Linebacker: Blake Wingham, jr, Elmira; Bryer Moore, jr, Junction City; Will Blansett, jr, Marist Catholic. Outside Linebacker: Walker Humphrey, sr, Cottage Grove; Nick Haskins, sr, Marist Catholic; Gavin Parker, sr, Elmira. Defensive Back: Tandy Martin, sr, Marshfield; Estifanos Gerdes, sr, Junction City; Jacob Dunn, sr, Cottage Grove.
Kicker: Estifano Gerdes, sr, Junction City. Punter: Landen Parker, soph, Elmira. Return Specialist: Bryson Forsman, jr, Elmira.
Quarterback: Dom Montiel, soph, Marshfield; Cobyn Herbert, jr, Elmira. Slot Back: Gavin Parker, sr, Elmira; Ezra Waterman, soph, Marshfield. Tackle: Matt Timpe, sr, Elmira; Trace Nelson, sr, Cottage Grove; Miles Calhoun, sr, Marshfield.
Defensive Line: Nick White, jr, Junction City; Traver Matthews, sr, Marshfield. Outside Linebacker: Donavon Vogt, jr, Junction City. Defensive Back: Tanner Gibson, sr, Junction City; Jaden Backer, sr, Marist Catholic.
Kicker: Landen Parker, soph, Elmira. Return Specialist: Sam Grayson, jr, Marshfield; Lucas Patterson, jr, Marist Catholic; Jacob Dunn, sr, Cottage Grove.