The Naselle Comets have largely coasted to a 10-0 record, but they should be challenged in Friday’s quarterfinal 8-man football playoff tilt with the Quilcene Rangers.
Naselle takes on the 8-1 Rangers at 7 p.m. in Aberdeen.
“I’m pretty sure we can handle them, “ sophomore running back Daniel Holt said. “I’m not sure we’ll get the running clock. It’ll probably be longer than most of the games we play. Some players on our team get tired pretty easily. But they’re good players, so we don’t want them to have to get out and take a breather.”
Coach Jeff Eaton is looking forward to the test the game poses for his squad.
“This week is a step up in competition. So I’m looking forward to that. They (Quilcene) got to the semifinals as well last year. We’ll have to wait and see how good they really are. They look good on film,” Eaton said.
Quilcene senior quarterback Holdem Elkins has passed for 917 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
“All three of their linemen are seniors as well, and they’re bigger than our guys. Those guys scare me a little bit,” Eaton said.
Eaton said this week the Comets are emphasizing the need to reduce penalties.
“We’ve had that off and on all season long. We’ve had six or seven penalties a game. We can’t have that as we go up the road. We can’t give them 10, 15 or even five yards,” Eaton said.
To beef up and clean up their play, the Comets are putting heavy focus on a four-man front. Last week the Comets won 66-20, but Crescent ran a four-man line, which Naselle hadn’t prepared for.
“We might have to send two or three out there, send extra blockers in there to keep (wide receiver Ethan Lindstrom) upright. We’ve been able to get it with three guys with almost every team we’ve played,” Eaton said.
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The Comets are vowing not be be caught off guard again.
“Improving the timing of our offense, last week was a little off and this week we’re really focused on getting everything good and smooth, coming out full speed,” senior wide receiver Ethan Lindstrom said.
Lindstrom said the team has been putting in extra time in the weight room and doing more stretches. He said they’ve also put a heavy emphasis on eating healthy and drinking a lot of water.
Injuries and illness have taken a bite out of the Comets. The team started the season with a little more than 20 players, but it’s down to 16 healthy bodies, Eaton said.
“We’re not very deep. We did get (junior linebacker/running back) Jimmy Strange back. He’ll play as much as he can. We’re going to be challenged by their offensive and defensive lines. So our defensive ends, they’ll be pretty key players for us, putting pressure on their quarterback. We count on those guys to chase their quarterback around,” Eaton said.
Many Comets also play baseball, and the last time they played Quilcene on the diamond they claimed a 10-0 win. They want to keep the winning streak going on the gridiron, Eaton said.
“They want to beat them more than some of the other teams they’ve gotten a chance to play,” Eaton said.
The team is a form of brotherhood, he added.
“I want to keep this group together. When I called Sunday to tell them who we were playing, I called one household and there were eight of my players at the one household. They hang out together. It’s pretty neat to see. They act like a bunch of brothers,” Eaton said.
Lindstrom said he knows his team is prepared.
“If we come out and focus on ourselves and execute, we should take care of business,” Lindstrom said. “It’d be awesome if we could take home a huge win to send us on to the semis.”