Orcas hoping home brings change of fortune

"Home never looked sweeter.After running a gantlet of sorts the last three weeks, the West Sound Orcas return to the inviting confines of Bremerton's Memorial Stadium this Saturday, June 30, with a good chance of clutching their first victory of the 2001 semipro football season.The Orcas, one of two winless teams after three weeks of play in the Northwest Football League, will host the other - the Eastside Chiefs - Saturday at 6 p.m. It will be West Sound's first home game in three weeks, following a pair of routs on the road.The Chiefs could be a lot better team than they are and still be a creampuff opponent, compared to what the Orcas (0-5 overall) have faced in the season's first three weeks. Most recently, they fell 40-7 to the Oregon Thunderbolts last Saturday at Hillsboro, Ore. Prior to that, the scores were even more grisly - 51-7 at the hands of the Multnomah County Buccaneers, also in Oregon, and 53-0 at home against the defending league and national champion Puget Sound Jets.In that three weeks, the Orcas played the league champion, runner-up and a semifinalist.It's been pretty hard on the guys, the coaches, the board of directors ... everybody, said Orcas coach Robert Mulligan. Home is sounding great, I have to admit.The Chiefs are coming off an 18-0 loss at the hands of the traditional NWFL doormat Oregon Panthers.After three straight hammerings, though, the Orcas aren't taking anything for granted. Mulligan said some changes they made during the loss to the T-bolts might've helped build some momentum for the remainder of the season.We took some guys from our defensive line and moved them over to offense, and I think we did a better job moving the ball, Mulligan said. We need to move the chains more often. We've been going three (downs) and out way too much.The T-bolts ripped off touchdowns in each of their first three possessions to take a 21-0 first-quarter lead. After that, though, Mulligan said the Orcas - led by quarterback Matt Gates, who replaced the injured Don Purser - began to gell on offense.We were able to score and move the ball, Mulligan said. They got those 21 points real quick, and after that I thought it became a ball game.I thought Matt Gates played excellent at quarterback. He's earning a lot of respect as a tough guy, a guy who will take a few shots and still get the job done, Mulligan continued.Gates scored the Orcas' touchdown on a 9-yard run and connected on a couple of pass plays with the team's leading receiver, Shawn Parker.Mulligan said Gates will be the starter against the Chiefs - and possibly has earned the job for the rest of the season.The way he played (against the T-bolts), it's going to be hard for anybody to beat Matt out, Mulligan said.Purser, injured in the June 9 loss to Multnomah County, could be out another four or five weeks, Mulligan said. Kris Lowry, who filled in for Gates for a couple of downs last Saturday, also is available to call signals.Mulligan said the Orcas lost two fumbles against the T-bolts, and had one drive stall on the 2-yard-line.We just couldn't get that one in, but we did finally see the offense controlling the ball some, he said.NOTES: RB Todd Lewis, hampered all season by a foot injury, left last Saturday's game with strained abdominal muscles. Mulligan said he'll be questionable for the Chiefs game. ... West Sound has been outscored 144-14 in its three league games. ... Multnomah County dropped from the ranks of the league's unbeatens with a 19-12 loss to King County. The Jaguars and Puget Sound both are at 3-0, but the winningest team so far this season is the new Willamette Raiders team, which has compiled a 4-0 record as a probationary entry - the same status the Orcas had for the 2000 season. "

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