Friday, November 6, 2009

Raft River ready to give Prairie a game

The 11-hour bus ride is the least of the Trojans' concerns.

The Raft River football team opens the Class 1A Division I state playoffs at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow against the highly-touted defending champs from Prairie, which have won their last 21 games - with 11 shutouts - and have outscored opponents 51.7 to 3.7 on average.

But Raft River doesn't plan to travel all that way just to roll over.

"We're going to make the best of it. It's a good experience for us," said Raft River senior Rio Manning. "We have a special opportunity to go up there, have fun with it and kick some butt at the same time."

As underdogs, the Trojans are feeling no pressure, which will allow them to play more relaxed.

"Everybody's saying how they're invincible and how nobody can touch them," said Manning of Prairie. "They are a solid team, but we match up well with them. We're going to go up there, play as good as we can and hopefully come out on top."

If nobody is giving Raft River (7-2) a chance, it's because they don't realize how close the Trojans were to going undefeated this season. In its season-opening loss to Castleford, Raft River lost its starting quarterback Nelson Manning to injury. It was also working out the kinks of a new spread offense, which they have since bagged in large part, going back to their bread-and-butter single wing. Raft River's other loss was to Snake River Conference champ Oakley, a game that the Trojans were just a 2-point conversion away from winning.

"The kids believe they have a chance for some redemption," said Raft River coach Randy Spaeth. "They still have the Castleford and Oakley games in the back of their minds. If they can pull this one off, it erases those losses."

Prairie's offense is athletic, physical and explosive. The key for Raft River will be to sustain drives to keep Prairie's offense off the field, while not getting too conservative.

Concerning the travel, the Trojans are following nearly the same itinerary as their 2004 trip to the Kibbie Dome when they won the state championship over Genesee. The team departed at noon on Thursday, practiced at Bronco Stadium in Boise at 4 p.m. and spent the night in McCall. After a walk-through at McCall-Donnelly High School this morning, they will travel to Moscow for the 8 p.m. (MST) kickoff.

"It's an awesome opportunity. It's going to be a fun game in the Kibbie Dome and we're going to give them a run for their money," said Raft River senior Braden Ottley.

Said Manning: "We know as seniors that if we don't win this one, we're going to be done with football for the rest of our lives, and we're not ready for that yet. We want at least two more games."
Times News
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Twin Falls, ID

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