To call the 2001 HRV football season "up and down" would be an understatement. To describe the Eagles' 3-6 record as "disappointing" would also qualify as an understatement.
But to call the players' effort as anything less than heroic would simply be unfair.
Despite getting down double-digits in more than one game, this proud, talented group of gridiron gamers never threw in the towel and managed to cling to their playoff hopes until the final game of the season -- a narrow one-point loss to Reynolds.
"Like most of our other losses, this one could have easily gone the other way," coach Mitch Sanders said after the team absorbed its third loss by three points or less.
"The kids played their tails off, but we've just had trouble getting the little things done to win football games."
HRV rode a series of extreme highs and lows -- both during the season and in individual games -- to finish outside the state playoff picture for the first time in three years. They played every opponent tough and lost only one game decisively -- a 49-38 loss at Centennial on Oct. 11 -- which they made interesting even in defeat. Down 42-16 in the third quarter, the Eagles made a strong push at the end, but Centennial’s high-potency offense was ultimately too much for the Eagles, who were playing without two key defensive players, safety Wes Martens and cornerback Isidro Bello.
The proud HRV squad didn’t allow the score to keep them down, however, and rolled off three fourth-quarter touchdowns to keep the game close.
Offense, especially on the ground, was the key for the Eagles this season. First-team all-conference selection Martens led the way, rushing for 947 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing two-and-a-half games with an ankle injury.
Jacobe Krizman, James Maher and David Fox also compiled stellar rushing numbers on the season, helping the Eagles amass 3,035 yards and 33 TDs on the ground this season. Krizman (all-conference HM) ran for 794 yards and six TDs; Maher (all-conference HM) 756 yards and 11 TDs, and Fox 293 yards and six TDs. Isidro Bello (100 yards), Ryan Flory (58 yards) and Nathan Nash (54 yards) also contributed greatly to the vaunted HRV rushing attack.
But just like any quality rushing team, these players all understand that a running back is only as good as his offensive line.
One of the biggest reasons the Eagles' ground game was so successful this season was the play of the enormous and powerful O-line of Tommy Owyen, Miguel Silva, Matt Cody, Zack Lucas, Nate Dethman, Ryan Goe and Justin Jones.
Owyen earned first-team all-conference honors, Silva and Goe second-team honors, and Jones and Lucas honorable mention for their outstanding efforts. And although their names rarely appeared on the stat sheet, each Eagles' runner would be quick to point out the muscle behind their numbers.
Another unheralded player for the Eagles who relied heavily on the burly offensive line this season was quarterback Jarrod Fogle. He was rarely asked to throw the ball in the double-tight, double-wing offensive set, but was steady all season, completing 18 of 55 passes for 288 yards, one TD and four interceptions.
Fogle also ran the ball seven times for 25 yards and provided excellent blocking for his running backs on every possession. He improved throughout the season and developed a physical and mental toughness that will help him guide the Eagles in his senior season.
Although the Eagles were able to move the ball and put points on the board, team defense was often their weakness. The team had a number of quality individual defenders, including one all-conference second-teamer (Krizman) and five honorable mentions — Fox, Bello, Nash, Jones and Maher.
Linebacker Jared Gidley, lineman Danny Phelps and cornerback Cody Cataldo also put together solid years for the Eagles, but team defensive breakdowns and missed assignments often led to big plays that the team had trouble rebounding from -- most notably against Centennial. The big play seemed to be the Eagles' nemesis from the first game of the season against Mountain View to the last game against Reynolds.
Big plays late cost HRV in the 47-44 loss to Mountain View on Aug. 31, the 42-39 loss to Gresham on Oct. 26 and the 30-29 loss to Reynolds on Nov. 2, and almost cost them against Central Catholic on Sept. 21 -- a game the Eagles won 31-29 on a last-second field goal by Jordan Thompson, the team's all-conference kicker.
Had just one of these close decisions gone the other way, HRV would have qualified for state, which demonstrates just how evenly matched the Mt. Hood Conference was this season.
Sanders summed up the season well when he said, "Maybe it just wasn't our time."
He and the returning players hope that the ball bounces the other way in 2002 as HRV looks to get back to the playoffs. Sanders will return a handful of starters next season and has some up-and-coming stars developing on the JV and freshman teams.
Fogle will return at quarterback, while Krizman will be the team’s primary rushing threat. Cody and Owyen are the only two starting O-line players on next season's roster, while Gidley, Phelps, Owyen and Krizman represent the defensive returnees.
The most pressing need for the HRV next season will be to revamp its dominant front line and bolster its secondary so it can remain competitive with strong passing teams such as Centennial, Central Catholic and Sandy.
HRV will need to find someone to fill the role of defensive stopper, held by Nash and Jones this year, who led the team with 86 and 78 tackles, respectively. Freshman standout Bryan Williams may be asked to jump into the fray, while JV stars Jason DeHart, Zach Royall and Noel Thomas will see extended time on the defensive side of the ball.
Other emerging varsity players for the Eagles in 2002 will be Kyle Maurer, Rocky Level, Dominic Buttaccio, Nigel Bond, Chris True, Justin Krizman, Dennis Methvin, Danny Metcalfe and Jeremy Fogle.