By Jodi Nofziger, The Dalles Chronicle, and Tom Lanctot, Hood River News
Area football coaches as well as Jerry Allen, “Voice of the Ducks,” and Nick Jones, who works in public relations with the Portland Trailblazers, were the featured speakers at this year’s Annual Columbia Gorge Broadcasters Sports luncheon. Tuesday’s luncheon was sponsored by local radio stations KIHR, KACI FM, KACI AM and K105.5.
Doug Grant, KIHR general manager, welcomed the group and announced that longtime KIHR sports announcer Mark Bailey was again named broadcaster of the year by Associated Press (AP) and the Oregon Association of Broadcasters. Bailey served as master of ceremonies for the noon luncheon.
The luncheon, held at the Bridgeview room of the Hood River Inn, drew around 60 local businesspeople and sports enthusiasts.
Longtime Hood River Valley athletic director Glenn Elliott was honored by Bailey for his 19 years of service. Elliott is moving to Newberg High to serve as a high school administrator there.
Elliott said, “Hood River is a wonderful place, a community that never said no. Our kids grew up and left there with great experiences because of the support of the community and the local media.” He received a standing ovation.
Attendees were also treated to words from three area football coaches, Larry McCutcheon (21 years at Columbia High in White Salmon), The Dalles’ first-year coach Steve Sugg, Hood River Valley defensive coordinator Caleb Sperry (a graduate of The Dalles) and baseball coach Daryn Fogle of the state Babe Ruth 13-year-old tournament to be held this weekend in Hood River.
Local coaches spoke optimistically of their teams’ chances, with Sugg noting, “We’ve been right on the verge and I think this year we’re going to get over the top. If we can win a state championship in baseball, then I know we can win a state championship in football and that’s our goal.”
Sperry and the Hood River Valley Eagles will be one team the Indians face. Hood River Valley hosts The Dalles Sept. 6. The Dalles and Hood River haven’t faced each other in football since 1993; it’s a rivalry that both sides look forward to re-establishing.
Allen, a broadcaster for the Oregon Ducks football team and men’s basketball teams, offered a smooth transition into his short speech by saying, “Keep supporting your local kids, that’s great. Sure, support us but support the kids here at home.” Allen predicted that the football Ducks, who won the Pac-10 title in 2001 and finished second in the nation, will be even better this coming year. That’s due to the defense and the work of defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, said Allen. “I think because of that we can beat anybody in the nation. It’s fun being a part of that.” Allen’s enthusiasm eked out also when he spoke of the $90 million Autzen Stadium renovation, nearly completed and due to be game-ready for the home opener.
Jones said that the Blazers’ first goal for the coming year (after re-signing Bonzi Wells, which Jones predicted will happen within the week) is to make the playoffs. “Our second goal is to be in the top (of the playoffs) because we don’t want to play L.A. in the first round. So we’ve got to come out serious at the beginning of the season, so we can start running over people.”