SANDPOINT — After stepping up a weight class in one-sided losses to 5A Post Falls and 4A Greater Spokane League University to start the season, the Bulldogs will finally pick on someone their own size, facing Raymond High School on Friday night with an early 6 p.m. kickoff at Barlow Stadium.
The Bulldogs (0-2) will look to bounce back by starting quicker, as both losses got out of hand early, and will have to adjust to Canadian rules in regards to running backs and receivers moving at the snap.
First year head coach Ryan Knowles has been preaching a quicker start to his team all week.
“Don’t lose it early so you can win it late. We can win a game late if we can begin the darn thing,” said Knowles, whose team hasn’t shown any quit despite the tough losses. “The kids are hard workers. We care about each other, make sure we’re doing things the right way. I want these kids to love the game as much as I do.”
The Comets (2-0) play in Tier 1 in Alberta, the top class that is akin to 5A in Idaho, and own early wins over Edmonton teams Bellerose and Salisbury, scoring 64 points and allowing 19.
The teams will play 11 versus 11 at all times, unlike the 12 man Canadian brand, and all American rules in special teams and on defense. For those unfamiliar with the Canadian offensive game, it will look odd with receivers and backs sprinting toward the line of scrimmage at the snap.
The two teams played last year, with Sandpoint winning 35-30 on the strength of three second half rushing touchdowns from Declan Plummer in a backup quarterback role, a strip sack and touchdown return by linebacker Payton Cox and two interception by then safety Alex Stockton.
Comets head coach Darryl Salmon, who is also the school’s vice principal and athletic director, relishes the chance to cross the border and pop the pads.
“We always try to get American competition once a year. We enjoy the competitiveness that we get, it’s different than up here, the intensity is a little more,” described Salmon. “Football is very important in our community. It’s a great thing to come down and feel that and be part of that.”
A bright spot last week was the Bulldogs trimming their penalties from 13 to just two, and the special teams play was excellent, with Payton Cox booming punts, solid coverage and Dillan Mitton and Christian Niemela giving the offense good starting position in the kick return game.
University had a pair of 300 pound offensive linemen, and a typically fast and physical front seven, but Knowles felt his team beat itself with early turnovers offensively and too many chunk plays allowed defensively.
“When we made them beat us, we did OK. We gave up eight plays of 25 plus yards. We need to make teams throw the ball, and keep the dang thing in front of us,” claimed Knowles, who hopes to get back to power football tonight. “We have to establish a run game. Here’s our run game, deal with this until they figure things out.”
Kickoff was moved up an hour to 6 p.m. at Barlow Stadium to accommodate the long bus ride for Raymond.
n Wampus Cats host Knights in North Star League clash tonight
CLARK FORK — The Wampus Cats impressed in a rout of league rival Kootenai last week, and will look to notch another league win and get a leg up in the playoff race tonight when Lakeside comes to town.
Lakeside (0-2) has lost to Kendrick and Wallace, but both are much bigger teams and last year they took down the Cats. Clark Fork can take command of the league race with a win, with only Mullan left to play.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. in Clark Fork.