The Hermiston football team is looking to shake off last week’s loss Friday when it hosts the Southridge Suns of Kennewick at Kennison Field. The Bulldogs lost to the?Springfield Millers 49-28 last week.

Head coach Mark Hodges hopes his team can rally after what he called a lackluster effort against the Millers.

“I expect some senior leadership to emerge,” he said. “We are at a crossroads in our season. We are sitting at 4-2 and it’s up to our guys to decide which way they want to take this thing.”

The Suns are coming into the game with a 3-2 record. They play in one of Washington’s deepest conferences and Hodges said they will provide an exciting and difficult challenge for his team.

“That’s a great ball club,” Hodges said. “We need to play better than we did last week or they could beat us pretty easily.”

Hodges thinks the key to stopping Southridge is stopping their running attack. Suns running back Kadin Diaz already has nine rushing touchdowns on the season.

“They have an excellent tailback,” he said. “Last year he gashed us for a ton of yards. Even though we beat them, he really controlled the game. Stopping him will be crucial to our success.”

The Suns also run a spread offense predicated on short accurate passing led by junior quarterback Jair Ealy-Thomas.

“They do a pretty good job of mixing in passing plays with that dominant running game,” Hodges said.

Hodges believes the Suns will be one of the most athletic teams his squad will face all season.

“They have athletes at every position,” he said. “That defensive line of theirs is tremendous. They are just a well-rounded bunch.”

Hodges hopes the Bulldogs will put in a good week of practice in preparation for the Suns.

“We’ve got a big challenge ahead,” he said. “We are going to continue to work hard and prepare in an excellent way, but it’s going to come down to who fills out the uniform Friday night.”

The Bulldogs delivered an underwhelming performance in their last game against the Millers and squandered an opportunity to get a quality road win against a ranked opponent.

“It started with a very poor week of practice,” Hodges said. “There was no recognition from our players about what was at stake. It’s disappointing.”

Penalties doomed the Bulldogs as they committed 14 of them for 84 yards.

“That’s just a lack of discipline,” Hodges said. “We should have played better and we just didn’t.”

It wasn’t all bad for the Bulldogs. Quarterback Chase Knutz kept Hermiston in the game with some solid play.

Knutz completed 21 of 39 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns. He did have one interception.

“For the most part Chase played well,” Hodges said. “I thought it was one of his better games this season.”

Hodges praised the play of his special teams units.

“Our punt team pinned Springfield back in bad field position several times,” he said. “I think we outplayed them in the special teams area all game.”

The Bulldogs had cut the Millers lead to 28-22 at the end of the third quarter to make it a one score game. Hermiston was then outscored 21-6 in the fourth quarter and never threatened the lead again.

“We were in position at the start of the fourth quarter,” Hodges said. “We didn’t execute.”

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