By Gerry Steele
NORTH POWDER - Powder Valley is looking to return to the Class 1A football playoffs again this fall.
The Badgers finished last season 5-5 overall and 4-1 in the Old Oregon League, losing to St. Paul in the first round of the playoffs.
Powder opened the 2013 campaign with a return matchup against the Bucks.
"The kids have been talking about that game the entire off-season," said Powder coach Dan Townsend.
Townsend welcomed 23 playoffs out for early drills this season, twice as many as he finished the season with a year ago.
The Badgers will field six seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and a dozen freshmen.
"I think it's going to be a fun year," Townsend said.
"Our main goal is to get back to the playoffs."
Townsend's biggest question mark is how to replace graduated all-league running back Colton Eubanks.
"You don't replace someone like Colton Eubanks. You just hope to find one or two players who can step in to that position," Townsend said.
The Powder coach said Quinn Stephens, Eubanks' running mate a year ago, will get the bulk of the carries this season. Stephens checks in a 6-foot-1, 210 pounds.
"He's just a player," Townsend said.
"He's going to have to run the ball a lot for us. He's a different kind of back than Colto. Colton relied on his speed. Quinn will run the ball over people up the middle."
Running the Powder offense will be senior quarterback Chace Dixon. He has been Townsend's starter for almost four seasons.
"He's like a coach on the field," Townsend said.
"He makes a lot of his own calls, and is a real benefit to the team."
When Dixon wants to throw the football, he'll have a trio of big receivers to throw to.
All-league receiver Tyler Robinson (6-4) returns. He will be joined by Brock Jones (6-3), and Baker transfer Jake Grammon (6-3).
"Tyler is a big target. Brock has some good speed. And, Jake will be moved around at several positions," Townsend said.
The Badgers will rotate a number of people on the line, including senior Heath Browne, juniors Eddie Bedolla and Lee McElligott, sophomore Caleb Day, and freshmen Shane Hoopai, Isaac Colton and Cade Browne.