Playoff glory makes sports writing fun

Sports commentary - November 8

Little did I know back in September that I would be sitting here in November writing about three local teams’ dream seasons.

To think I would be talking about three state playoff teams, two conference Players of the Year, and a state record-breaking running back were almost unimaginable at the time.

But, as I and the rest of the county have learned, these aren’t your ordinary playoff teams this year at Hood River Valley. These are state-title contenders that, with a few breaks, could take the whole enchilada.

Now wouldn’t that be a nice, big dollop of sour cream on top?

State-record crusher Jacobe Krizman and the 8-1 football team took their first step toward state immortality on Friday night when they hosted a first-round playoff game against Lakeridge (results not available at press time).

Boasting the most potent, high-scoring

offense in the state, along with one of the meatiest offensive lines in any state, the Eagles already surprised the critics by finishing second in the Intermountain Conference. They also earned recognition in the 4A polls for the first time, consistently finding themselves among the teams “also receiving votes.”

No stranger to the state polls is the ninth-ranked HRV boys soccer team, which inched closer to its state-title dreams on Tuesday with a third-round road playoff win over Lincoln. Matt Dallman, Dereck Ponce and company are one of just eight teams remaining, and will try to reach the semifinals for the first time tonight when they travel to Eugene to face fourth-ranked Sheldon.

Crazy to think that when this weekend comes to a close, we could be talking about two school firsts. And, by the end of next weekend, we could be in the midst of a playoff frenzy.

Oh wait, we already are!

Last Saturday’s HRV girls soccer game was as good as it gets, and anyone who was at Westside — soccer fan or not — would agree that the drama was Oscar-worthy. The Eagles’ 3-2 shootout win over Westview was their first-ever playoff victory, and it gave the program a brand-new outlook on what the playoffs are all about.

Had they been able to overcome third-ranked Tualatin on Tuesday, that may have supplanted Saturday’s win as the biggest in the program’s history. But that doesn’t take away from the girls’ unprecedented success in 2002.

To avoid losing their first game until the first week of November is no small feat, while placing nine players on the all-conference rosters — including three first teamers and the Conference Player of the Year, Becca Meierbachtol — is almost unheard of.

With any luck, though, we will be hearing plenty more about the HRV soccer girls in the years to come. From the looks of it, we’ll be hearing our fair share about the football and boys soccer teams as well.

I’ll bet every small-town sports writer wishes he had it as good as I do. I mean, what other town of 6,000 people can produce 4A state-title contenders as consistently as HRV?

We’ve even had a couple state champions in my time here. Christy Paul, Caitlyn Shortt and the girls ski team represent just a few names on a long list of gifted athletes who make this job more than just a paycheck.

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