The Gold Beach Panthers have been preparing since summer football camp — pictured above — for their first-round playoff game this Friday against Central Linn.
Come Friday evening Gold Beach High School’s head football coach Kevin Swift should have a “pretty good idea” on just how far his Panthers will progress into the 2013 post season.
Gold Beach is preparing for its latest foray into the OSAA 2A state football playoffs and will host Central Linn at 7 p.m. Friday at the Jay Johnson Stadium in Gold Beach.
“We should know real quick if we are one and done or if we will go deep again,” Swift said.
That’s a surprising statement from Swift given the Panthers’ record under his leadership: 11 consecutive league titles, 10 appearances at the quarterfinal level, five finals appearances and two shutouts for titles — 44-0 over Vale in 2007 and 33-0 over Scio in 2011.
Gold Beach (8-2) is ranked fifth in the state at the 2A level while Central Linn (6-4) is ranked 12th and, on paper, it appears to be a no-brainer to put a check in the win column for Gold Beach, which hasn’t lost a first-round game since 1998 — shortly after Swift took over as head coach.
But Swift knows games aren’t won on paper, and the rankings don’t mean a thing to the Panther boss.
“They are, without a doubt, the toughest first round opponent we’ve ever faced,” Swift said. “They are very good, very fast, and run a very unique offense.”
The Panthers will be facing the Cobras wing-T offense: a setup rife with misdirection and a lot of speed, all behind a group of large, and strong, linemen.
“Central Linn is very good at what they do,” Swift said. “They ran the gamut with Regis and operate out of the shotgun which can be difficult to defend, but I’ve got some fast kids, too.”
Gold Beach will bring its triple-option offense which features smashing runs up the middle, speed to the outside, a strong veteran line and a passing game that has had defenses reeling all season.
The game being held at home is something that hasn’t been done in more than eight years and, according to Swift, it’s because he is, “sick and tired of getting on yellow school buses.”
Historically the Panthers have traveled to Marshfield to play on the artificial turf but Swift has chosen to stay at home for this game.
“I’ve got tons of reasons,” Swift said of the choice to play at home, “but the most important one is that I really need everyone to show up for us at this game.”
The Panthers are getting ready by watching game film, hitting the weight room and doing what they need to do, according to Swift.
“I’ve been doing this a long time. So I’ll give them the plan, but it’s entirely up them — the kids — to execute it,” he said. “We will prepare for Central Linn the same way we do a Scio or a Vale. We have to play a down-home, smart, physical brand of game.”
Swift has spent hours analyzing every facet of the Cobras game and he thinks his troops have what it takes to win, but it will take their best game to do it.
“There are no shortcuts,” he said. “Gold Beach is known as a put-up or shut-up team. We are typically known as a put-up team.”