SANDPOINT — The Bulldogs’ long-awaited home debut in front of the new Barlow Stadium at War Memorial Field had to wait a day, as the game was moved from Friday night to today at 4 p.m. due to lingering smoke in the air.
The Bulldogs (0-2) have faced off against schools with more than twice their enrollment to start the season, and will finally face a team of similar size when 3A GSL opponent Mt. Spokane comes to town today, air quality permitting.
“It will be a true test how we compare to teams our size,” said Sandpoint head coach George Yarno, who can’t wait to play the first game in front of the brand new bleachers. “Our kids are excited to play in front of the new stadium, playing at Memorial Stadium is special. Those locker rooms are some of the best I’ve see at the high school level. Great atmosphere, we expect to see a sea of red to support the kids.”
After losses to Post Falls, which hung 54 points on Mead last week, and University, which looked like a serious contender in the Greater Spokane League, the Bulldogs found a slew of areas to improve upon.
Unfortunately, with the poorest air in the nation enshrouding the panhandle, practice was moved indoors to the middle school and Fairgrounds, neither of which is ideal for football practice.
“We don’t have the space that we need to have the full effect of football,” said Yarno, who has made the most of the situation. “Concentrate on some mental things we need to fix, and rest a little bit.”
He praised the improved play of the offensive line last week, and said the special teams were nearly flawless, giving the Bulldogs excellent field position. Dustin Norris has been a bright spot in the return game, showing the ability to break one at any time.
Mt. Spokane (1-0) will have some big kids and quick athletes, like most of the GSL schools, and is always well coached. Yarno is happy to have 300 pound nose guard Chris Jones back to plug up the A gaps and help fortify a defense that has struggled to stop the run.
Starting quarterback Robbie Johnson will miss his second game with a shoulder injury, with Declan Plummer running the pistol offense once again as the back up. All Yarno is asking of his players is to continue to show the effort they have in the first two games.
“Kids have played hard,” said Yarno, admitting his team won only the special teams phase last week, and needs to win either offense or defense today. “Continue that level of effort, win two-thirds of the game, we’ve got a chance to win the football game.”
Kickoff is at 4 p.m., and Bob Witte and Chris Chatburn will call the game live on AM 1400 and 105.3 FM.
n Wampus Cats in action today
Clark Fork had its game against Lakeside postponed on Friday night, and will now travel south to face the Knights with a 7 p.m. kickoff slated for tonight. Wampus Cat athletic director Brenda Haase said the school will meet today at 1 p.m. to determine if the air is clean enough to play.