Coquille Vs. Santiam

Coquille takes the field after halftime Saturday during a playoff game against Santiam at Coquille High School. The Red Devils beat the Wolverines 44-6 to advance to the Class 2A quarterfinals against Knappa.

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COQUILLE — Last season’s playoff loss is still fresh on the minds of the Coquille football team. A year ago in a first round home game against Lost River, the Red Devils were handed a 17-8 loss that ended their season and it has haunted the team ever since.

“Last year we took Lost River for granted. We thought, hey, they have a crummy schedule, we’ve beaten teams that they’ve lost to, and we’re just not doing that this year,” said Coquille head coach David Thomason. “We’re taking it one game at a time.”

The one game at a time mentality worked last week as the Red Devils exorcised any first round playoff demons with a 44-6 win over Santiam. Coquille will now host Knappa on Saturday at home at 1 p.m. But as the team prepares for the ins-and-outs of the Loggers’ air-raid scheme, they are still holding on to the lessons of Lost River.

“Stay in the moment, treat every game like it could be your last because if we don’t — we had that experience last year when we lost to Lost River,” said Coquille running back Ean Smith. “We overlooked them because a lot of us were thinking ... we could play Bandon here or get Neah-Kah-Nie, totally overlooking who was coming here first.”

“Prepare, take it one game at a time. Don’t overlook these guys. We especially can’t overlook a playoff team, especially Knappa,” added sophomore lineman Patrick Adams. “We can’t afford to. We did that last year against Lost River and we all know what happened.”

Not looking to the possibility of the semifinals, Coquille is focused on Knappa. After a 1-2 start to the season, that saw losses to a talented No. 5-ranked Toledo team and a less talented 3-6 Taft side, the Loggers have reeled off seven straight wins. Through that stretch, Knappa has averaged 50 points per game. Over the last six weeks Coquille’s defense has given up 14 points per game.

Where No. 2 Coquille has used its high-power rushing attack to vault to the second highest scoring offense in the 2A classification, Knappa has used its four-wide shotgun formation to throw the ball all across the field and into the end zone.

“It’s different from what we do but not different from what we’ve seen. So we feel like we’re prepared. We’ve seen this kind of offense and we’ve seen guys execute it a little better than Knappa can,” said Thomason. “But at the same time, this is second week (of playoffs), this is quarterfinals, we’re not going to take anything for granted. We’re going to get after these guys like we’re competing for state because we are.”

On Nov. 1 against Toledo, Coquille took a hit with the injury to all-around star player Caiden Yates. Losing Yates means losing the league’s offensive and defensive player of the year, but so far the Red Devils have been ready to respond.

“We lost a major contributor at Toledo but the team has rallied. They’ve rallied really well, better than I could have possibly imagined. They’ve rallied. I mean, we started a freshman (Howard Blanton) on defense last week and you couldn’t tell,” said Thomason.

Pairing its talented defensive unit with the strong offensive side, Coquille is just looking to do what it has been able to do all season.

“Our team has been working so hard to get to where we want to be. We’re looking to try and get that championship game and we’ve just got to focus on this week,” said quarterback Jace Haagen. “We just all have got to stay focused, work hard and just do what we’re supposed to do and get the job done.”

Reporter Zachary Silva can be reached at 541-266-6036 or by email at zachary.silva@theworldlink.com.

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