With just two weeks remaining, the Mid-Willamette Conference football race remains murky in the middle.
League-leading Crescent Valley High (7-0, 4-0), which sits atop the OSAA 5A power rankings, is the lone team without a loss. The Raiders travel to last-place Dallas (2-5, 0-4) this Friday before hosting South Albany (3-4, 3-1) to close the regular season.
The Rebels suffered their first MWC blemish last week, a 28-21 home loss to Silverton. Second-place South still holds a half-game lead on the Foxes (5-2, 3-2), who wrap up conference play Friday night against visiting Central. A victory would clinch a postseason spot for Silverton.
The top four MWC teams qualify for the 5A state round of 16.
South can also secure a playoff bid this week by taking down Lebanon (5-2, 2-2) at home. A season ago, the Rebels handed the Warriors a stunning 16-14 defeat at Heath Stadium. Lebanon bounced back to win the MWC and state titles.
With just two conference losses, fourth-place Lebanon can clinch its third consecutive postseason appearance with victories over the Rebels and Dallas.
Sitting alone in fifth, red-hot Corvallis (3-4, 2-3) hosts Glencoe this Friday for a nonleague game. The Spartans, owners of consecutive wins over the Foxes (40-37) and Dragons (40-26), need help and a victory at Central (3-4, 1-3) next week to reach the playoffs.
The MWC had three state semifinalists in 2016: Dallas, Central and Lebanon. The Warriors routed Wilsonville, 34-17, in the title game.
Hufanga nicked up
Crescent Valley is hopeful star wide receiver/defensive back Talanoa Hufanga will play this week, coach Scott Sanders said.
“(But) we’re not going to rush it,” Sanders added.
A banged up Hufanga sat out last Thursday’s 32-6 nonleague victory over Forest Grove. He is nursing multiple minor bumps and bruises.
“Everybody hits him,” Sanders said of Hufanga, a first-team all-state defensive back in 2016. “It doesn’t matter where he is on the field, somebody is always running over to hit him.
“He gets late hit that doesn’t get called so many times a game. Guys just want to put a lick on (Hufanga), and they do it to him.”
Hufanga has scored 14 touchdowns (seven rushing and receiving) in just four and a half games this year.
Eagles bounce back
Following a rough two-game stretch, Santiam Christian got back on track last week with a 54-7 rout of Taft in Lincoln City.
The Eagles (5-2, 3-1 West Valley League), who started the year 4-0, had dropped their previous matchups with Dayton (37-19) and Cascade Christian (47-0).
“We played some really good teams and that always makes a difference,” SC coach Matt Bain said. “But we finally played with more determination and had a better week of practice. We just got after it more, and that was the biggest thing. It was nice for us to get our wheels rolling.”
The Eagles wrap up WVL play Friday night against Amity (6-1, 2-1) in Adair Village. A season ago, SC earned a hard-fought 7-0 road victory over the Warriors.
“Amity is always a solid team that plays good football, so if you make mistakes you won’t beat them,” Bain said. “We’ve got to come out and play well. They are a very big, physical team so we’ve got to be ready to play.”