WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks are riding a two-game winning streak coming into their game at Idaho on Saturday. The problem is Idaho is riding a 9-game winning streak.
The Horsemen are undefeated on the season at 9-0, while the Skyhawks are in third place in the American West Football Conference at 4-5. Reno is second at 5-4 while Tri-Cities is 0-8.
Three teams make the playoffs. The three seed will play at the two-seed with the winner playing at the one-seed for the championship. WV Head Coach Keith Evans said the Skyhawks need to win out to secure a home game in the playoffs against Reno.
“We need to win out to hold onto that two spot. We need to get over the hump and beat Idaho. Everybody knows we are capable of doing that,” Evans said.
The Skyhawks have won their last two games against Tri-Cities, 42-34 on June 2 at Kennewick and 66-28 last weekend in Wenatchee.
Evans feels like they have picked up some momentum with those two wins.
“We’ve come together which is important. We have arrived. Everybody has the right attitude. Everybody is excited about going down there and getting a win. We want to stay on this role that we are on,” Evans said.
WV has lost to Idaho three times, 33-22 on March 23 at Boise, Idaho, 49-29 on May 18 in Wenatchee and 47-45 on May 25 in Wenatchee.
Evans said the losses are due to a combination of things, mistakes, turnovers and defensive breakdowns.
“We haven’t been keeping our foot on the gas. The first home game against Idaho, we went up 13-0 and they thought they had accomplished something,” Evans said. “I think they have bought in. We’re all we have and we’re all we got.”
In the two games against Tri-Cities, the Skyhawk running game has come alive. They rushed for over 215 yards in the last game against the Fire. Of all the teams in the conference, Idaho is the best at defending the run.
“They are disciplined. They are definitely better. They are the best at stopping the run. We have run on them and I believe we establish that run on them again and be successful,” he said.
Teams cannot stack the box against the run. According to (Indoor Football League) IFL rules, there can be only one linebacker, who must remain in the box.
AFL (Arena Football League) rules allow for two linebackers in the box, so it is mostly a passing league.
AWFC plays according to IFL rules, which also allows a no-back offense. Evans believes that makes it more like the outdoor game.
Skyhawk quarterback Jarvis Alston is the key to the offense with his running and throwing ability.
“Jarvis has been huge. He is a great leader. He’s definitely the ultimate weapon for us,” Evans said.
The keys to the game, he said are ball security, avoiding defensive breakdowns and making stops, which the defense is capable of doing.
“Our defense has to play sound, mistake-free football. They had success against their offense, but the problems have been coverage breakdowns and not wrapping up,” Evans said.
Skyhawk kicker Dan Kleckner was expected back for the game, but Evans said that is up in the air.
“We don’t know if he’ll be there or not. I would love to have him but I don’t know if it will happen,” he said.