In the first half of Friday night's Homecoming football game against David Douglas, a chill went up the collective spine of Hood River Valley fans.
When star running back Wes Martens hobbled off the field and never returned, fans, coaches and players were left to shiver with the notion that he may not return again this season.
Seeing Martens after the game on crutches didn't make the 19-6 loss any easier to absorb, but fortunately, the crutches were only temporary.
In fact, the high ankle sprain Martens suffered may only keep him out for one game -- if that.
"He's staying off it and could see limited action on Thursday (against Centennial)," assistant coach Vinnie Schlosser said. "Coach (Mitch) Sanders will wait and see, but we expect he'll be back before too long."
With that in mind, HRV fans can now breathe a sigh of relief. If nothing else, the positive prognosis should relieve some of the sting from the loss. HRV played a tough game and did what it could against a big, powerful David Douglas front seven. The 4-1 Scots simply played a better football game and came away with sole possession of first place in the Mt. Hood Conference.
"They did to us what we like to do to other teams," Schlosser said. "They controlled the line and the clock, and didn't make mistakes."
Quarterback John Blom completed some big passes in crucial situations, and fullback Justin Snoderly converted some big third-down runs to break down the Eagles’ defense. David Douglas registered 306 total yards (178 passing, 128 rushing) to Hood River's 207 total yards (25 passing, 182 rushing), and played tough defense from sideline to sideline to secure the win.
To Hood River's credit, they did stay in the game till the final minutes, and made big plays on both sides of the ball. Down 12-0 at half, the Eagles mounted an 86-yard drive on their first possession of the second half, and narrowed the score to 12-6 on a James Maher touchdown dive from the 1-yard line.
The defense then stepped up big on the next possession, forcing David Douglas to punt from their own 48. HRV had a more difficult time moving the ball on the ensuing drive and turned the ball over on downs. But the defense was again up to the task, ripping through the line on 3rd and 15 to sack Blom and force a fumble deep in Scots' territory. Nathan Nash recovered the fumble and the rally was on.
However, just two downs later, the fumble bug bit Hood River and they turned the ball back over with 8:30 to play. HRV continued to play strong defense and got one final chance with 5 mintues to play. But the Eagles were unable to mount a charge and were forced to go for it on fourth down deep in their own zone.
Jarrod Fogle's pass fell incomplete and HRV turned the ball over on downs, setting up the Scots’ game-winner -- a 5-yard TD pass from Blom to Nick Walker.
Unlike HRV's first two losses, when they beat themselves late in the game, the Scots played a superb all-around game and made very few mistakes to beat the Eagles. But that doesn't make the loss any easier.
"Since this was a league game, it’s a little harder for us to take," Schlosser said. "Now there's a bit more pressure going into Thursday's game against Centennial."
The Eagles stand at 2-1 in the conference (2-3 overall) and hope to regain their place atop the standings with a solid showing against Centennial, who is always a tough team.
"They have some good skill kids and they keep coming at you," Schlosser said. "We'll have our work cut out for us."