Road trip to quarters

By Gerry Steele / The Baker City Herald

"Road Trip!"

That phrase echoed throughout the Baker locker room Saturday following the Bulldogs' 43-7 Class 4A first-round football win against Sweet Home.

The win means the Bulldogs (8-2) hit the road this weekend to play top-ranked Siuslaw (10-0) in a 4A quarterfinal game at Florence.

Traveling across the state is nothing new to the Bulldogs, nicknamed "the Road Warriors" the past couple of seasons for the mileage they have put on the post season buses. Baker has reached the championship game each of the past two seasons, winning the title a year ago.

Baker coach Dave Johnson reminded the Bulldogs that only eight teams remain in the Class 4A playoffs.

"And, we're one of them," he said.

Johnson's teams are 16-8 in post-seasonplay, including winning the past five post-season games. The last time Baker lost in the post season was the 2009 championship game to Marist.

"We're playing good football right now," Johnson said. "We're getting the maximum output from the kids at a pretty high level."

Johnson said Baker will leave Friday morning for the 404-mile trip to the Oregon coast.

"We'll practice somewhere in the valley and stay in the valley," he said. "We'll probably take in a playoff game Friday night and roll into Florence Saturday morning."

In its eight wins Baker has averaged 49.5 points a game and allowed just 6.25 ppg. Overall, the Bulldogs are scoring at a 41.4-point clip and allowing 13.3 points a game.

Baker and Siuslaw have met twice before in the playoffs - in the 1988 Class AA quaterfinals (a 17-14 Baker win) and the 2004 AAA second round (a 21-14 Baker win).

In the 2004 meeting, at Bulldog Memorial stadium, current Baker assistant coach Garrette Smith scored the tying touchdown and two-point conversion on the way to the Baker win.

Top-ranked Siuslaw enters the game coming off a 40-14 win over Molalla in the opening round.

The Vikings built a 40-0 lead then cruised the rest of the way. Sonny Tupua (5-10, 180) led Siuslaw with 141 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries. Neal Larson (6-0, 170) added 131 yards on 22 carries.

Viking quarterback John Johnson added two TD passes to Ryan Smith and Jacob Thompson, and scored one running TD.

The Vikings, the Far West League champions, are averaging 42.9 points a game, and allowing 17.2.

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The Baker City Herald
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