HRV gridders tune up for opener

Bodies were flying and spirits were soaring Saturday when the HRV football team took to the Henderson Stadium field for the annual Blue and Gold Scrimmage.

Despite a small decline in numbers this year (75 players down to 59), the program still raised nearly $3,200 that will go toward buying equipment, team shirts/ sweatshirts, sack lunches for Intermountain Conference road trips, and so on.

Event sponsors Rosauers, Juanita’s and the Odell Fire Department helped sell some 585 hamburgers and hot dogs to the crowd, made up of players’ families, community leaders and rabid football fans.

But besides being the football program’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the Blue and Gold Scrimmage also offered a chance for head coach Mitch Sanders and his staff to see their teams at full speed before Friday’s Centennial Jamboree.

“There’s a lot about this year’s group that impresses us,” Sanders said. “The levels of character and athleticism are very high, and we’re expecting big things.”

Sanders also commented on the team’s chemistry, saying this year’s group already appears to be more unified than the 2001 team without even having played an actual game.

“The best thing about this group is that they work really well together,” he said. “Last year’s team probably had the most talent I’ve coached here at HRV, but we didn’t make the playoffs. I think it all comes back to team chemistry, and that may be the main thing that separates this year from last.”

Sanders also commented on the strong senior leadership in 2002, spearheaded by quarterback

Jarrod Fogle, wing back/middle linebacker Jacobe Krizman, linebacker Jared Gidley, and linemen Tommy Owyen, Matt Cody, Nate Dethman and Danny Phelps.

“We have eight key returnees (including junior wing back Ryan Flory) who are probably going to determine much of our success this year,” Sanders said. “There are definitely a lot of new faces, but once they get some more reps, we’re going to be fine.”

Notable additions to the Eagles’ roster this season are free safety/ wing back Sam Murillo, strong safety Rocky Level, fullbacks Nigel Bond and Luke McCarthy, linebacker/tight end Noel Thomas, and linemen Jorge Lujano, Zach Royal, Nolan Johnson and Dago Rivera.

HRV is now starting to focus on the Sept. 6 home season opener against The Dalles — a renewed rivalry that hasn’t been staged since the 1994 season.

With less than two weeks remaining, starting positions are beginning to take shape and Sanders is confident that his team can surprise some people in the IMC.

“We’re happy with the guys we have,” he said. “We’re very strong up front and have experience at the skill positions. It could be a very exciting season.”

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