Sandpoint looks to avenge last year’s loss to Moscow

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(Photo courtesy of JASON DUCHOW PHOTOGRAPHY) Senior defensive lineman Sam Puckett wraps up Lake City running back Uriah Chavez during last Friday’s game at Memorial Field.

Revenge is a dish best served on the road.

That’s not quite how the saying goes, but when a team comes to your stadium on homecoming and beats you, the best way to get them back is to return the favor.

Sandpoint football will have an opportunity to do just that when they face league rival Moscow on Friday night.

It won’t be homecoming at Moscow, but walking onto Bear Field and taking them down would certainly help the Bulldogs heal from last years 39-21 home loss to the Bears.

Sandpoint head coach Ryan Knowles said his team isn’t shying away from last year’s defeat and is using it as motivation.

“I mean that was a tough loss,” he said. “They earned it they came up and beat us on homecoming and you know it stung, it stung on all levels ... if anything we should approach them with the respect that they deserve but also with the fact that we need to make it about us, we need to make it about who we are and we need to execute our plan and we’ll be ringing the bell.”

Revenge will certainly be on the Bulldogs’ minds during the roughly two and a half hour bus ride to Moscow, but Knowles wants his team to avoid making the game about last season.

“I think letting last year’s game in too much taps into the emotion and I don’t like the emotion being apart of it,” he said. “I really think that creates a roller coaster outcome for our players. I would like for them to be more consistent in what we do and by that you play off enthusiasm. If you’re enthusiastic, you’re a little bit more level about what you do and its about the approach and who we are.

“At the same time I’d be shocked if we didn’t get the best performance out of every one of our guys this week.”

The Bulldogs are fresh off a dominating 39-14 home victory over Lake City that saw Sandpoint score a touchdown on offense, defense and special teams.

It was a complete game that saw all three units work in unison and the Bulldogs will be looking to do the same against Moscow.

The Bears are looking to rebound from a 28-24 road loss to Lewiston last Friday. Just two weeks ago, Sandpoint shutout Lewiston 30-0 at Memorial Field.

Knowles said Moscow has a dynamic offense and a quarterback that knows how to run the system installed by the Bears coaching staff at a high level.

That quarterback would be Chad Redinger, who accounted for three total touchdowns last weeks in Lewiston.

But the Bulldogs have faced dynamic offenses and dual threat quarterbacks on a handful of occasions this season and held their own. Through six games, the Sandpoint defense is holding teams to just under 20 points per game.

This is due in large part to the play of their linebackers led by junior Tag Benefield. He has 63 tackles this season to go along with two sacks and nine tackles for loss.

Knowles said his defense will need to continue to assert themselves against the Bears.

“We got to be on point defensively,” he said. “I like the matchup but we’re going to have play our best game.”

Knowles said a win Friday night would go a long ways toward accomplishing one of their programs goals — a league title.

“These ones are obviously important and we’d love to get a shot at the playoffs,” he said. “If you win this game more than likely you’re making the playoffs ... so we’re playing for postseason life here.”

The Bulldogs will be fired up for a number of reasons against Moscow, but Knowles wants to make sure his players find that balance and aren’t overhyped come game time.

“I always think that an emotional football player is just like emotions are,” he said, “they’re up and down, they’re high and low. I don’t want an emotional guy, I want a guy who’s a little bit angry, a little bit on edge and wants to go take care of business.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Bear Field.

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