OROVILLE – Oroville will see a familiar set of uniforms across the line of scrimmage when they line up for the first round of state 2B playoff action on Friday.
The Waitsburg-Prescott Cardinals ousted Oroville from the playoffs in 2010 and went on to win the state championship in 2011.
Good news for Oroville: standout quarterback Zach Partlow and a host of seniors graduated off the state title team. But this year’s edition is still very good, rolling to a 9-1 record and a three-way tie for its league-title with Tekoa-Oaksdale/Rosalia and DeSales.
Partlow may be gone, but the Cardinals are not afraid to go to the air with senior quarterback Sterling Easman, who several times has topped 200 yards passing. That includes Friday’s crossover play-in performance against Mary Walker in which he completed 10-of-16 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns.
All four of those scores went to receiver James Tompkins, who had more than 200 yards receiving in the game.
“(Easman) is a decent quarterback, but not at the level of (Partlow),” said Oroville coach Tam Hutchinson. “We’ve been pretty concerned about that receiver, too.”
But the most dangerous of the Cardinals’ many offensive weapons may well be Dalton Estes, who started the year at wide receiver after playing there last season. He has since switched to running back, where he continues to be a receiving threat out of the backfield and has also rushed for as many as 244 yards in a game. Tight end/linebacker Chance Leroue is a dual threat offensively and the stalwart of a defense that has give up less than 12 points a contest.
Hutchinson said that the key to containing the Cardinals’ pistol offense will be making tackles. While that sounds obvious, W-P’s offensive thrives on making short passes and having its receivers and backs break off long gains after the reception.
“They get the ball to people in the open field,” he said. “They go deep now and then, but a lot more of it is hitting those underneath routes.
“It’s obvious we need to make some defensive adjustments. They run an option out of that as well where they overload one side. So we’ll need to come up with some creative ways to defend them, and then just make sure we make tackles the first chance we get.”
If there is a chink in the Cardinals’ armor, it’s a propensity to turn the ball over. W-P committed five in its lone loss to Tekoa-Oakesdale/Rosalia, and has had issues hanging onto the ball at times in other games.
Mary Walker is the two teams’ lone common opponent. Oroville defeated the Chargers 19-12 back in September before going on its late-season run of five wins in six games. Waitsburg-Prescott ended Mary Walker’s season last Friday, 47-8.
“They hammered (Mary Walker) pretty well,” Hutchinson said. “But we’re a lot different team than we were in September. The kids have really grown up a lot.”
Oroville vs. Waitsburg-Prescott at a glance
Friday, Nov. 2, 7:00 p.m.
at Edgar Brown Stadium, Pasco
Waitsburg-Prescott Cardinals’ season
W-P vs. Heppner, OR 41-6 W
W-P vs. Pilot Rock, OR 35-21 W
W-P vs. Weston-McEwen, OR 39-13 W
W-P vs. *T-O-R 22-32 L
W-P vs. *DeSales 16-13 W
W-P vs. *Dayton 39-0 W
W-P vs. *Mabton 54-8 W
W-P vs. *Asotin 26-14 W
W-P vs. *Tri-Cities Prep 34-14 W
W-P vs. #Mary Walker 47-8 W
Oroville Hornets’ season
ORO vs. Brewster 6-21 L
ORO vs. Mary Walker 19-12 W
ORO vs. Davenport 14-41 L
ORO vs. *Kittitas 14-38 L
ORO vs. *Manson 60-34 W
ORO vs. *Liberty Bell 28-27 W
ORO vs. *Lk Roosevelt 45-19 W
ORO vs. *White Swan 30-41 L
ORO vs. *Bridgeport 57-12 W
ORO vs. Chief Leschi 72-0 W