Bulldogs ready for must-win game tonight

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(Photo courtesy of JASON DUCHOW PHOTOGRAPHY) Senior offensive lineman Will Treadaway grabs hold of a Moscow defender while trying to block them during last Friday’s game at Bear Field.

Sometimes every team needs a wake-up call. Whether that’s a loss or a nail-biting victory.

Sandpoint football certainly got one last Friday night as they fell to bitter league rival Moscow 32-17 at Bear Field.

It was apparent from the start the Bulldogs didn’t bring their A game and after the loss, Sandpoint head coach Ryan Knowles said his team was “outplayed” and “overconfident.”

The players had a two and a half hour bus ride on U.S. Highway 95 to reflect on the defeat and Knowles said his team has moved on from it.

“The loss obviously is humbling and leaves a bad taste in everybody’s mouth which provides plenty of motivation for practice and what we got to get better at,” he said. “As I talked to the team, they’re all hurting too, they didn’t love this outcome, but they got it.”

Now the Bulldogs (4-3) face a must win game on their home field Friday night against Lakeland in order to keep their aspirations of reaching state alive.

“I don’t like it, I don’t want it but that’s where were at as a team right now,” Knowles said.

Sandpoint hasn’t missed state since 2013 and the team this year doesn’t plan on breaking that streak anytime soon.

But first they will have to get past a Lakeland team that loves to put points on the scoreboard.

The Hawks (2-5) are averaging almost 34 points per game and come into Friday’s matchup on a four-game losing streak. Lakeland hasn’t won a game since Sept. 13 and most recently lost to West Valley by one point at home last Friday. It’s safe to say that Lakeland will be hungry for a victory.

In order to ensure the Bulldogs come out on top, Knowles said his team will need to keep the Hawks athletes in check and slow down their passing attack.

“Our boys know these guys,” he said. “They play them in other sports and they kind of know everybody at this time of year as well so there’s going to be some individual battles that need to be won. That’s what we’ve been challenging the guys with all this week is we got to compete.”

The Sandpoint defense will be put to the test and after the Bulldogs surrendered 176 rushing yards to Moscow last week, they will be looking for a bounce back game.

The defense has been carrying on without junior linebacker Tag Benefield, who was leading the team in tackles when he suffered a season ending injury against Mt. Spokane on Sept. 20. The Bulldogs have stepped up to the challenge without one of their leaders, shutting out Lewiston and holding Lake City to 14 points prior to the loss against Moscow.

“We’re going to miss a guy like Tag,” Knowles said, “but at the same time every team has its adversity and I refuse to be apart of a team that can’t handle a little bit of strain like this.”

With their backs against the wall, the Bulldogs need everyone to step up and Knowles knows his team is capable of it.

“We were in the same situation last year with the exception that we were sitting at 1-6 as opposed to 4-3,” Knowles said, “so these guys have all the right to have confidence.

“We have the players and the pieces to get it done and I’m excited to see them get out there and correct some of those mistakes and take care of business Friday night.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. tonight at Memorial Field.

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