SANDPOINT — The Lakeland Hawks no doubt remember Sandpoint senior running back Dillan Mitton, after the workhorse running back torched them for 192 yards rushing and 152 yards receiving last year in a monster game.
In case the Hawks (3-3, 0-0 4A IEL) need a reminder, they can watch the last two weeks of film from the Bulldogs (1-6, 0-1 4A IEL), where Mitton has carried a whopping 70 times for 271 physical yards.
After falling to Moscow last week in a tough loss, the Bulldogs face a must win game tonight when they travel to Lakeland for the second and final 4A Inland Empire League clash.
Win, and the Bulldogs could earn the right for a future three-team Kansas City tie-breaker scenario, but Lakeland would need to beat Moscow the following week for that to happen. Lose, and the Bulldogs will miss out on the two state berths awarded to the North.
“The guys know our season is on the line,” said Bulldog head coach Ryan Knowles, who feels playing mistake free football is the biggest key to a win. “Penalties, turnovers and big plays need to be in our favor. . . and finish. We also need to be more consistent.”
Lakeland and Sandpoint share two common opponents this year, with the Hawks falling to Lake City 40-27 and Post Falls 35-16, while Sandpoint lost 19-13 in OT to Lake City, and 35-7 to Post Falls. Long story short, the game looks pretty even on paper.
The Hawks know a win tonight can clinch them a playoff spot, so motivation won’t be an issue for either squad.
“They like to run the football, but have the ability to get in spread formations and throw down field,” described Knowles of the Hawks. “Their defense is physical.”
Alex Stockton was a bright spot in defeat last week for the Bulldogs, exploiting the ample attention the Bears’ defense paid to Mitton to rumble for 122 yards on seven carries, while also gaining 42 yards on his lone catch. The Bulldogs’ run defense continues to be a bright spot as well.
Both Stockton and Mitton will be spied on every play, which could open up the field for play action passes, the gift that a power running game can bring to an offense. Last week the Bulldogs became predictable, running 48 times while throwing 13 times, and the Bears’ defense took advantage by coming downhill at the snap.
The two teams are coming off tough losses, with the Hawks falling 41-13 to West Valley, which is currently ranked in the Washington 2A state rankings, and the Bulldogs 39-21 to the Bears.
Knowles hopes his team learns and grows from the adversity, and puts a complete game together with the season on the line.
“To put the we in front of me,” said Knowles of what he’ll tell his team. “To look your teammates in the eye and let them know you’re ready.”
Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Lakeland High School.
Chris Chatburn and Steve Youngdahl will call the game live on AM1400 and Rock 103 FM, with the Yoke’s Pre-Game Show kicking things off at 6:40 p.m.
n Wampus Cats at Timberline
CLARK FORK — Clark Fork travels south to face Timberline tonight, looking to build momentum for a possible playoff run.
The Wampus Cats (5-2) have handled their business against everyone but White Pine League’s Lewis County and No. 2 state ranked Kendrick.
Timberline (0-5) is still looking for its first win, but does have a pair of quality losses against No. 4 ranked Deary (33-20) and Kootenai (7-6), featuring strong defense.