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PREP FOOTBALL: No margin for error left for Bengals

Lewiston Tribune, Idaho — Byron Edelman Lewiston Tribune, Idaho

Oct. 13--Lewiston knows exactly what hangs in the balance.

After the Bengals lost their 5A Inland Empire League opener last week, they now face no margin for error -- that is, if the valley school hopes to collect one of the conference's two automatic postseason bids.

Something it can only do if the Lewiston High football team wins tonight's contest against Post Falls.

Kickoff is at 7.

This contest at Bengal Field will feature a pair of big-play quarterbacks.

The unbeaten Trojans (7-0) ride the hot hand of Nate Buer while Lewiston (4-3) calls upon Tyson Wallace, perhaps the only major Bengal to avoid getting banged-up this year.

Some good news on that front.

Lewiston will likely reclaim its two most talented defensive players from the injured reserve, those being lineman Nicholas Blume (whose injured knee makes him a game-time decision, but a likely go) and linebacker Treyce Bradley (coming off an injured groin).

But that's not to say the Bengals will enter this tilt boasting full health.

Who will the Bengals take the field without tonight?

That would be three starters: guards PJ Schlangen (out for the year with a knee injury) and Trek McCammon (done with a broken leg), along with one of Wallace's favorite receiving targets, Josh Wilson (out with an undisclosed injury).

Lewiston defensive back Connor Spencer has seven interceptions through seven games, and that's not all he does.

"He just sneakily is leading the team in tackles," Bengals coach Matt Pancheri said.

So what represents the key tonight for the Bengals?

"I think it comes down to this, if we can manage their run game, then we give ourselves a good chance," Pancheri said.

East Valley at Clarkston -- Brycen Bye plans to cheer for wideout Rodrick Fisher -- with one exception.

That would be tonight's 7 p.m. tilt.

"He's committed to Washington State, and I'm a huge WSU fan, so I wish him nothing but the best," Clarkston's coach said of Fisher. "But I hope (the East Valley star) has the worst game of his life on Friday."

And how do the Bantams plan to defend "the most dynamic" athlete Bye's ever coached against?

"You're going to have to talk to the people out of Area 51 to get that secret out of us," Bye said. "It's our super secret game plan, how to stop Rodrick Fisher."

What defensive tactics might the Bantams employ in this Great Northern League tilt? Philosophically at least, here's one clue.

"I'm a huge Cougar fan so I listen to (defensive coordinator Alex) Grinch talk all the time about how they're going to win games if they can create three turnovers," Bye said, telling a story about how a forced turnover saved his team's bacon. Just last week, in fact.

Tied late with the Blackhawks, the Bantams' Nate Savolainen jarred a ball loose from one of Cheney's receivers -- which shortly thereafter led to the game-winning field goal.

An ice-cold 27-yarder at that.

"I think I was more nervous than he was," Bye said of his sophomore kicker, Austin Armstrong.

Orofino at Grangeville -- Only one team stands between Grangeville and its second Central Idaho League title in three years. That would be Orofino, which will visit the Bulldogs tonight at 7.

Lapwai at Genesee -- Only two teams remain unbeaten in Whitepine League play, and they'll meet tonight at 7.

SUNNYSIDE CHRISTIAN AT COLTON -- You might recall: Colton's two losses to Sunnyside Christian last year were by a combined eight points -- and one of those setbacks came in the postseason, in the state quarterfinals.

There's less on the line tonight: Whoever wins this 7 p.m. Southeast 1B League showdown will sit in first place atop the conference standings. Though the winner will likely still have company in the penthouse.

Tri-Valley at Salmon River -- Before the season, Savages coach Charlie Shepherd pointed to this 7 p.m. MDT tilt as the one which will determine whether his team claims a third straight Long Pin crown.


Edelman may be contacted at or (208) 848-2277.


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