Sports

"Despite loss, Orcas playoff chances looking up"

"Instead of a dogfight, it might be a walk in the park.The West Sound Orcas semipro football team needs to win its final two regular season games - both on the road - and depend on outside help to make the playoffs under the current system, in which the top four teams advance to the postseason.But Orcas coach Robert Mulligan said it is possible a ruling Sunday might expand the Northwest Football League playoffs to six teams.Mulligan said the idea seems to be getting support from most of the team presidents, but nothing is definite.West Sound currently is tied for sixth place with the Pierce County Bengals.To stay in the playoff picture, the Orcas need to defeat the Oregon Panthers Saturday, Aug. 18, in Milwaukie, Ore. If King County (5-4) defeats Washington (3-4) in two weeks, it clinches fourth place outright.After a 20-10 home loss last Saturday to the Willamette Valley Raiders - a probationary member of the Northwest Football League - Mulligan said he plans to mix things up on offense.One option might be using punt returner and defensive back Terrance Ivory at wide receiver in an attempt to liven up the team's passing game.We have a playbook a mile long but we don't use all the plays, Mulligan said. When balls are thrown at (wide receivers) they get dropped or the ball never come close to its targets.Mulligan said he is trying to give opposing defenses a variety of looks to keep the defense honest. Teams regularly are putting nine players on the line of scrimmage, daring the Orcas to throw the ball.We have a heck of a running game but the defenses know we don't have much of a passing game, he said. We're not getting outside so let's (use Ivory) and speed it up.Mulligan also is mulling another quarter back change. North Kitsap High School graduate Don Purser, who started much of last year, might replace incumbent Robert Boyer against the Panthers - a team Purser beat twice last year.Though the loss to Willamette Valley didn't count in the standings, Mulligan had to deal with personnel issues.Linebacker Paul Fearless and defensive back Eddie Boyd were suspended from the Raiders game. A third player, Preston Brown, was suspended for the remainder of the season for poor conduct on the practice field.Mulligan said he's confident the offense will turn things around.Mulligan said he couldn't be happier with the production from his defense.I'd bet my paycheck we're (first) or (second) in the league, he said.Other than the Orcas defense, Ivory was the lone bright spot in Saturday's game with two stellar punt returns.In the waning seconds of the first quarter Ivory returned the ball 70 yards for a touchdown. That score, and Mike Crowley's extra point, gave West Sound the early 7-6 lead.Trailing 14-10 with less than a minute and a half remaining, Ivory returned another punt 85 yards for an apparent touchdown. But the play was called back on an illegal block that took place away from the play. "

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