It's hard to figure out how a high school football team that has a 1-6 record and plays in a powerful conference such as the West Valley League can have a shot at reaching the state playoffs.
Yet that's where the Gervais High School football team stands after winning its first game of the season Friday.
The Cougars defeated Willamina 27-12 Friday for their first win of the season.
"I think we had a concentrated effort," Gervais coach Duane Riddell said. "I think we got some techniques down that we hadn't done. I think the kids responded well to coaching this week.
"The whole offensive and defensive front played really well. I think Roberto Hernandez and Adam Jarmillo played really well. (Running back) Nikita Kalugin, he and (running back) Jordan Milkovich had a good game. Our quarterback (Austin Garcia) showed really good."
Gervais improved to 1-4 in the West Valley with Friday's 7 p.m. game against Amity left on the schedule.
Riddell said that he and some of the league's athletic director's figured that if Gervais beats Amity (2-3 West Valley), there would be a three-way tie for the fourth and final state playoff seed out of the league. Sheridan has completed its league season at 2-4.
Riddell said that if Gervais beats Amity by eight points, the Cougars would get the final state playoff spot.
"That's a pretty good feeling," Riddell said. "That's pretty interesting, huh? I'm real excited about that.
"That's a good deal for us, and we'll see how it shakes out."
West Salem: The Titans pulled off an improbable feat in the final couple weeks of the regular season.
The Titans jumped to No. 11 in the OSAA's power rankings from No. 21 two weeks ago with their fourth and fifth consecutive wins.
West Salem, which finished the regular season 4-1 in the CVC and 8-1 overall, will host a Nov. 8 first-round state playoff game. The top 16 teams in the power rankings get to host in the first round.
"I don't understand all of that," West Salem coach Shawn Stanley said. "I'm terrible at math. I just like it."
West Salem got a boost with the wins in the past two weeks against South Salem and McNary.
But non-league opponents South Medford, Thurston, Bend and Lincoln went a combined 3-1 last week.
"It is what it is, but I'm obviously glad that they rallied at the end of the season, but we also took care of business," Stanley said.
One of the potential opponents for the Titans is McMinnville, which is in its first season with former Sprague coach Robin Hill at the helm.
6A, 5A, 4A postseason: Friday night's play-in rounds for football have been set.
In 6A, McKay (1-8) travels to play McMinnville (5-4), North Salem (2-7) plays at Aloha (2-7) and Century (2-7) plays at South Salem (4-5).
In 5A, Dallas (6-3) hosts Putnam (3-6). It is Dallas' first postseason appearance of any kind since 2010, when every team in 5A made it to the play-in round.
In 4A, Central (7-2) hosts Junction City (5-3) and Cascade (6-3) travels to play Baker (4-5).
Local teams that have clinched state playoff seeds and therefore get byes Friday are Sprague, West Salem and McNary in 6A and Silverton in 5A.
Scio: The Loggers' postseason hopes still are alive.
But they're dependent on what happens elsewhere Friday.
Scio came back from a 7-0 fourth-quarter deficit Friday night against Blanchet to defeat the Cavaliers 24-7.
The win improved Scio to 3-3 in the PacWest Conference and 4-4 overall. Scio is tied for fourth place in the PacWest with Pleasant Hill and trails third-place Blanchet (4-2 PacWest).
The Loggers need Blanchet to lose to Harrisburg, which is No. 1 in the OSAA's power rankings and 8-0 overall, and to defeat Jefferson (0-3 PacWest, 1-7 overall) Friday to force a three-way tie for third place in the league.
Scio coach Jim Mask said Scio would win the ozzi point tiebreaker between the Loggers, Pleasant Hill and Blanchet, and get the league's No. 3 playoff seed. He said Blanchet would be the league's No. 4 playoff team.
Mask said that the Loggers had a hard time running the ball early against Blanchet because of the scheme that Blanchet head coach Justin Hubbard and defensive coordinator Jon Tromblay put together.
"It was a big win for us, obviously," Mask said. "Our young guys are getting older. We've got a group of seniors that aren't ready to be done. I think we caught them a little bit beat up, too. They didn't have all their guys."
Senior running back Brian Sarbeck rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries and Jordan Cooper hit A.J. Holmberg for an 82-yard touchdown on a rare pass out of Scio's double wing.
Now what Scio needs most is for Harrisburg to beat Blanchet.
"For us right now, Blanchet needs to lose to Harrisburg for us to get in," Mask said. "Blanchet's very well coached and you just never know. It's an important game for us, obviously."
Jefferson: The Lions forfeited their game scheduled for Friday against Santiam Christian.
The Lions couldn't field a team because of injuries and illness, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported.
The win clinched a state playoff spot for Santiam Christian.
Coaching: Former North Salem coach Jim Hellyer was named interim head football coach for La Salle for Friday's 39-19 loss against Molalla.
Hellyer, who coached the Vikings in the 1990s, replaced Tim Bowman, a former Western Oregon assistant, who was removed from his coaching position Wednesday.
Hellyer also was formerly head football coach at Molalla.
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