When No. 10 Onalaska football coach Mazen Saade first looked at No. 2 Okanogan film in prep for the 2B state quarterfinals this week, the first thing he noticed was the Bulldogs size in the trenches.
“They are big,” Saade said. “They are, their offensive line is impressive. They are physical and big. Their backs run hard. They’re really well coached, they have a tradition of winning at every level.”
But no matter the opponent or the task, the Loggers are relishing every chance they get to keep playing football, and it will be no different heading into a matchup with the Bulldogs at the Apple Bowl in Wenatchee Saturday afternoon.
That battle in the trenches will be key for a Loggers’ team that starts its offense and defense with the big boys up front.
“This game is about blocking and tackling, who is going to be more physical and more aggressive,” Saade said. “That’s what it comes down to, it's not a complex beast, it’s pretty simple really. You prep yourself and prepare all year long for situations and we’re excited to be here. This is what you build your program around, we’re one of the last teams to be playing right now, this is what you work for.”
The Bulldogs are led by a two-headed monster in the backfield in 6-foot-5 quarterback Carter Kuchenbuch, and star tailback Johnny Swartsel. The pair have piled on yards and points on all their opponents this season, as so far, the Bulldogs have yet to be tested in dominant win after dominant win.
Running slot-wing, run-option and counter formation and schemes, Okanogan has beaten teams in a variety of ways and fashions, and have rarely given up tons of yards on the other side of the field, either.
Still, while the task in front of them seems large, the Loggers focus — as it has all season — is on themselves.
“Our biggest challenge is never our opponent, it's us,” Saade said. “We have to get better at playing Logger football every week, 1% better, focusing on us and the little things. Truly, being the best we can possibly be at Noon at the Apple Bowl when we kick off.”
Fresh off yet another Elite Eight appearance, even after a tough start to the season, the Loggers are enjoying every moment of meaningful football being played in November. Though teams of the past experienced state semifinal runs and a title run in 2019, for this current version of Ony, it’s new.
“This is what you look for in your program,” Saade said. “You want to be in these situations. Our program wants to be in places where we’re playing meaningful games in November. These kids have worked so damn hard to put themselves in a position to play in a meaningful game. That part of the process is what it's about, it's a great time of year. You work hard for these situations and these games.”