GNL Game of the year? Clarkston to host Pullman

Pullman's Sam Tingstad (2) kicks a field goal in the first quarter of a game with East Valley to put the Greyhounds ahead of the Knights 3-0 Friday night.

Here are six story lines you need to know when the Clarkston football team welcomes Pullman at 7 tonight:

Great Northern League title on the line?

When asked if the game might determine the Great Northern League champion — with Clarkston and Pullman both 1-0 in league and looking like contenders — Bantams coach Brycen Bye offered another way of looking at things.

“If you want to win the league, you have to win this game,” Bye said. “(Tonight’s) kind of the ladder to the league championship. It’s just another step on the ladder.”

Clarkston’s clutch play

Before Clarkston quarterback Kaeden Frazier ran in the game-winning, two-point conversion last week, his coach gave him some advice.

“I told Kaeden, if the defensive end crashes on the running back (who originally was supposed to get the ball), just to keep it and score,” Bye said.

Frazier did just that to complete one of three do-or-die plays the Bantams converted during their 50-49 triple overtime win at West Valley.

In the first overtime, the Bantams faced a fourth-and-10 from the West Valley 25 when Bye called a play he’d never used in a game: The Statue of Liberty.

The Bantams’ playbook has that as a running play, but Bye — on the fly — drew up a tweak in a timeout to give Clarkston receiver Tru Allen an option to either keep the ball on a run or throw a pass. Allen, who got the ball on a reverse, chose the latter option and completed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Steve Baiye.

“Everything just worked out perfectly,” Bye said.

Clarkston’s other fourth-down score — which came on a 16-yard reception by Nate Hoffman — helped the Bantams keep pace with West Valley early in the fourth. Bye said if his team had failed to score then, it probably would’ve lost the game.

Pullman’s dominant defense

Pullman’s defense boasts two shutouts, its most recent coming last week in a 41-0 victory against East Valley of Spokane.

Pullman coach David Cofer said three players are carrying the load on that side of the ball: end Rian Colon Fee (who leads the team in tackles for loss and has recovered three fumbles in the past two games), linebacker Bogey Perkins (who leads the Greyhounds in tackles) and safety Ryan Bickelhaupt (who had two interceptions against East Valley).

Pullman’s 2 quarterbacks

The Greyhounds play two quarterbacks, each of whom brings a different dynamic to the offense. Riley Pettitt manages the game and takes care of the football as Carson Coulter gambles and positions Pullman to make big plays, Cofer said.

“We’re lucky to have two,” Cofer said. “Most teams don’t have one, and we have two quality quarterbacks. And any time you have that, it’s a good thing.”

Clarkston’s ground attack

Last week, Clarkston running backs Eddie Berglund and Will Sliger combined for about 250 yards rushing, averaging around 8.5 yards per carry.

“Our offensive line was fantastic,” Bye said.

Family matters

Clarkston’s star receiver and defensive back, Allen, is a cousin of Pullman’s best player, Isaiah Strong, who plays the same positions.

“Any time you can have a one-on-one matchup like that, it’s fun just to watch and see how it goes,” Bye said.

Added Cofer: “They’ve matched up in every sport for the last three years and any time you get them on a field together, you know it’s going to be a spectacular matchup.”

Sandpoint at Moscow, 7 p.m.

Sandpoint and Moscow shared one common opponent this season: Lewiston. The Bulldogs beat the Bengals 30-0 two weeks ago, while the Bears fell 28-24 last week at Lewiston. So the Bears (3-3) seemingly enter their 4A Inland Empire League opener as heavy underdogs to Sandpoint (4-2).

In Moscow’s loss to Lewiston, the Bears committed a slew of untimely penalties — two of those helping the Bengals sustain their game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. One came with the Bengals facing fourth-and-3 that gave Lewiston a first down. Another, on a late hit, turned a Lewiston second-and-long into a more manageable second-and-9.

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