It may be homecoming week, but Sandpoint football has focused all of its attention on the Lake City Timberwolves.
With a victory Friday night, the Bulldogs would improve to 4-2 for the first time since 2009 and surpass their win total from last season.
However, it won’t be easy as the Timberwolves present a challenge for the Bulldogs they haven’t faced since their 49-28 season opening loss to Post Falls — a vertical passing attack.
Lake City quarterback Chris Irvin loves to throw it and he has an arsenal of wide receivers to toss it too. Irvin has racked up 1,322 passing yards and 11 touchdowns this season and his favorite target Logan Jeanselme has reeled in 41 catches for 585 yards and six touchdowns.
Sandpoint head coach Ryan Knowles said his team is aware of Lake City’s ability threw the air and is well prepared to stop it.
“We’ve been working hard on it,” he said. “We got a lot of reps in this offseason with 7-on-7 and we got a secondary, its just been waiting to be tested. Defensively, when it comes to the pass, its a little more fickle then the run game, a couple big plays here or there can change a ballgame and this guy likes to throw it deep so we’re going to have to play the ball well and hopefully we can get some interceptions and get the ball back a few times for our offense.”
And maybe the Bulldogs can take a few things out of East Valley’s playbook, who was able to hold Lake City to 143 passing yards and 13 points last week.
No matter what, slowing down the Timberwolves passing game will be key for a Bulldogs victory and Knowles said his D-line will need to get after and harass Lake City’s quarterback early and often.
Sandpoint hasn’t been lacking in the passing attack either though as senior quarterback Jaxon Pettit has thrown for 1,086 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Last week against Lewiston, the Bulldogs play action passing game was in full effect thanks to sophomore running back Gerrit Cox. He had 38 carries for 245 yards, which helped open up the air attack for Pettit who capitalized on a Bengals’ defense that stacked the box to stop the run with three touchdowns.
Knowles said his team has to continue to establish the run against Lake City’s stingy defensive line.
“It’s paramount,” he said. “We look at our O-line as a source of strength for us ... once you get the defense sucked up you can throw it a little bit easier so I love it. I’m a big believer in ball control as well, keep the clock running, shorten the game and that’s exactly what we did last week.”
The turnover battle will also be a key factor in Friday’s matchup. Sandpoint hasn’t turned the ball over in its past two games and Knowles is looking for that to continue this week and for his defense to step up and create a few turnovers of their own.
“We have not done a great job of taking the ball away in the last couple weeks which has been a point of emphasis for us,” he said, “so if we can get a couple of those big plays, I think we’ll be ringing the bell at the end of the game.”
Kickoff for the homecoming game is set for 7 p.m. at Memorial Field.