No. 9 Sprague at No. 8 South Salem
When: 7:15 p.m. Friday
On the air: Radio on KBZY 1490 AM, video stream at www.Clypian.com, television at 9 p.m. Friday on CCTV2 channel 22.
Records: Sprague 5-0 Greater Valley Conference; South Salem 5-0, 4-0 GVC.
Comparing quarterbacks: South Salem senior QB Gabe Matthews is 14-0 as a regular season starter and is one of the best athletes in the state. He is 65 of 104 passing for 992 yards and 17 TDs against two INTs. Sprague junior QB Justin Culpepper took over part-way through last season and led the Olys on a resurgence in the second half of the season. He’s an efficient 45 of 75 (60 percent) passing this season for 603 yards and six TDs against four INTs.
Comparing running backs: The only thing that stopped Sprague senior RB Anthony Nunn this season was an ankle injury in the second week. Outside of that game he rushed for 936 yards and 17 TDs on 130 carries in four games. South Salem’s top running back, Francisco Ramirez-Perez, asserted himself as a steady, productive back with 383 yards and a TD on 52 carries through the first four games, but he didn’t play in last week’s nonleague win against Milwaukie.
Comparing receivers: South Salem senior Joseph Carey has become one of the state’s top receivers this season – and a deep threat – with 14 receptions for 394 yards and eight TDs. Sprague is young on the outside, but has had some big plays from juniors Nick Brotton (15 receptions, 260 yards, TD) and Carter James (10 receptions, 161 yards, TD).
Comparing offensive lines: Sprague devastated opponents up front with one of the most experienced and skilled groups in the state. With a crew of multi-year starters including Jacob Nelson, Ryan Morgan, David Prosser, Bryce Webber and Kyle Rosenau. South Salem has a group up front that has made huge holes no matter who is running the ball with players including Vincent Villarreal, Luke Raynack and Tyler Coates.
Comparing defenses: Each team is strong in different areas on defense. South Salem’s strength is in its secondary where the team is experienced and athletic with players such as Gibson Hohberg, Carey, Tony Phong and Carter Dorn, and one of the best linebackers in the state in Davis Carter. Sprague’s strength is in its linebackers where the group, including Dane McKinney, Prosser and Andrew Axelson is athletic and covers a lot of ground.
Intangibles: Getting, and staying, healthy has been a great challenge to both teams. Sprague displayed in last week’s 29-21 win against West Salem it is as healthy as it has been all season. South Salem was without a number of players in last week’s nonleague 56-13 win against Milwaukie, but that gave a number of injured players time to recover for this game.