NORTH BEND — In their last two games, both blowouts, the North Bend Bulldogs have been on a mission.
A week after blowing away Springfield, North Bend easily dispatched the visiting Redmond Panthers 62-7, rushing for nearly 500 yards and holding the unique Redmond offense to 102 total yards with more than half of those coming in the second half with the clock running.
North Bend's Divenson Willis runs for a second quarter touchdown Friday against Redmond at North Bend High School.
“I’m really proud of ‘em,” Bulldogs coach Gary Prince said. “They didn’t look past Redmond and that showed tonight.”
In the strong wind and persistent sideways rain, North Bend started fast and never looked back while improving to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in Class 5A District 2 play.
The Bulldogs established the running game early behind its big and physical offensive line and Redmond had no answers.
Divenson Willis had 142 yards on the ground with a touchdown and Jake Posey had 147 yards and two touchdowns. The combination of Willis’ power, with a dash of breakaway speed, and Posey’s explosiveness, with a dash of power, scored on runs of 49 (Wills), 37 and 41 (Posey) yards, often on simple running plays that were blocked well with each running through or around would-be tacklers.
“That offensive line is just getting better week in and week out,” Prince said. “And the kids behind it — Divenson Willis, Jake Posey, Coleman (Compton) — they run hard. And they run with a lot of anger. It’s a tough combination when you got Divenson softening them up the middle and you’ve got the ability of Jake Posey to use that speed and get outside. It’s tough to prepare for, and then you got Coleman, who does a great job.”
Unlike last week, though, North Bend’s initial drives were deliberate affairs.
It took North Bend 10 plays to score on the game’s opening drive, totaling 90 yards after a block in the back penalty on the opening kickoff backed it up deep in its own end. But North Bend still averaged nine yards per play on the drive, eventually ending when Compton faked to Willis and took it himself up the middle putting North Bend ahead for good.
Then the Bulldogs made Redmond punt, a task that is made more difficult by Redmond’s system.
The plays and formations, based on some Wing-T principles, themselves aren’t too complicated, but Redmond breaks its huddle quickly and snaps the ball even quicker, hoping the rush to the line causes some confusion and indecision by the defense so that it can’t adjust itself to the offensive formation and therefore giving an advantage.
“That fast-break huddle is so they can get their tight end, sort of out-flank you with their tight end before you can have your guys adjust,” Prince said. “Coach (Brad) McKechnie and Coach (Hamilton) Mateski did a great job getting the kids ready for that this week. And our scout kids did a fantastic job trying to simulate that. That’s tough for those guys. The offense is totally different from what we do. The fast-break huddle is totally different from what we do. All that work paid off for us tonight.”
“We had to work at it at first,” inside linebacker Coel Stark added. “We got used to it. We got the hang of it. For us, we just adapted quickly and that was our whole gameplan.”
North Bend was stout in its first defensive drive, not letting the athletic Brendan Powell find any running room.
Then after the three-and-out, North Bend embarked on a nine-play drive, but this time took advantage of Redmond’s attention to the running game to open up some passing opportunities for Compton.
The sophomore completed two of his three passes on the night in that drive, the second a 5-yard slant to slot receiver Teron Catanzaro for a 14-0 lead with 4:45 remaining in the initial period.
“We’re trying to keep the routes simple and give (Compton) a chance to hit a receiver within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage,” Prince said. “He’s just doing better being consistent.”
But then Redmond’s funky huddles caught North Bend once, and Powell took a handoff on a counter play and, after North Bend’s aggressive front seven bought the action left, Powell ran right for 61 yards nearly untouched to cut North Bend’s lead in half at 14-7.
But that was it for the Panthers. In the first half, when the game was still possibly in doubt, Redmond accrued just 46 yards of total offense, with Powell totaling a negative number outside of his long touchdown run. Redmond had 44 yards of penalties in that same stretch.
“I’d say we’re probably the most physical team in the state right now,” Stark said. “As long as we have the intensity and motivation to just go out there and do our jobs.”
The North Bend offense kept scoring, and started scoring more quickly.
The first Bulldogs offensive play after Powell’s run was a 67-yard touchdown on a post route to Catanzaro, who bobbled it several times at full speed before out-running everyone to the corner of the end zone while his fellow receivers Lucas Moe and Jakob Rudolfs gave smart down-field blocks, just veering in front of chasing Panthers defenders to give their teammate more time to run.
Adam Wood, filling in for Week 1 kicker Nathan Monohon, lobbed the ensuing pooch kick into the Panthers kickoff return formation and nobody in white went to it, but Jacob Stroh of North Bend did, recovering it at the Redmond 38 yard line and setting up a Posey score on the next play.
After Redmond cut the lead in half on a big play, North Bend redoubled it in 29 seconds of game time, taking a 28-7 lead that only grew.
"It's fantastic. I love seeing it," Stark said of North Bend's at-times explosive offense. "They're just moving up and doing their thing. For me, since I don't play offense much, I just like watching 'em do their thing."
Compton later added a 5-yard touchdown in the second quarter, then Posey broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage on the first play of North Bend’s next drive and went 41 yards for a 42-7 lead with 5:00 left in the first half.
Willis then added his long run in the second quarter, which also ended his night, to put North Bend up 49-7 with 1:47 left while its defense continued to force Redmond backward more than it advanced.
Ian Spalding had a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolfs and Luke Oman scored a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Next week, it will be North Bend’s turn to make the trip Redmond did this week when the Bulldogs visit Ridgeview in the elevated dry desert of Central Oregon.
“We’re gonna have to be mentally and physically tough,” Prince said.