After losing its first two games of the season (one forfeit), the Cougars have run off five straight wins to keep Wallowa in the hunt for the 1A Old Oregon League title. The Cougars routed Cove, 68-28 and improved their record to 3-0 in league and 5-2 overall. Wallowa finds itself keeping pace with first place Imbler and one game ahead of third place Powder Valley (3-1, 7-1 overall).
"I was a little concerned about the possibility of a letdown...and with the exception of a few moments from the defense, it didn't happen," coach Oveson said.
Wallowa came out of the gate firing and jumped to a 30-6 lead after the first quarter. In the second, the scoring output didn't miss a beat and Wallowa led at halftime 52-14.
"We were in control most of the game, when we needed to make plays, we were able to get the job done," Oveson said.
Wallowa stayed on cruise control in the second half and finished the route, giving the Leopards its fifth straight loss.
"We're improving each time out. The (offensive) execution is better, offensive line is better in allowing more time to throw, and (Brandon) Mahon is passing better with more completions each game," Oveson said.
As a unit, the offense totaled 544 yards and kept Cove back on its heels. Mahon had a
career day and couldn't miss, as he was 16 of 20 for 386 yards and seven touchdowns. What stands out the most is the fact Mahon didn't allow any interceptions - giving the Cougars good ball control and avoiding any costly turnovers that could have allowed Cove back into the ballgame.
Mahon connected once again with his favorite receiver Kaleb Oveson. The duo connected 10 times for 362 yards. Dalton Weaver got into the act with three receptions for 63 yards. Wallowa's ground attack was also in full force with five different running backs rushing for a total of 158 yards on 18 carries.
The defense didn't allow Cove's offense to do much; they held the Leopards under 200 yards of total offense, with only 50 coming from the air. In its last four wins, the Cougars have won by at least 20 points and are proving that they're solid on both sides of the ball. But, going into the final two weeks, Wallowa will be tested, as the league title will be up for grabs.
Said Oveson: "We haven't secured anything yet. If we lose our next two games, we don't make the playoffs. We have to go out there and take care of business."
In the next two games, the Cougars travel to face local rival Joseph (2-2, 2-5 overall) and wrap up the season at home against league leading Imbler (3-0, 6-0 overall). Oveson knows they're going to receive their opponents' best effort and will take it one game at a time from here on out.
"We're going to have to be ready...right now were focused on Joseph and they're a good team. We need to get our defense a little bit more consistent and overall, be more consistent as a team. We have a tendency to flip on and off the switch at times.
What's the strategy against Joseph? Wallowa will use various approaches to balance out its offense.
"We'll try and spread (formation) them out...see if they (Joseph) can handle it. But there's a number of things we can do, and hopefully, we'll find something that we can use," Oveson said.