HOOD RIVER — It’s difficult to put Hood River Valley’s playoff opener into words. That’s because the numbers tell a much better story.
Previously unmentionable figures like 625 (rushing yards), 134 (combined points), 56 (first-half points), and 12 (offensive touchdowns) all went into the state record books last Friday as the Eagles won their first-round home playoff match-up, 84-50, over Lakeridge.
“Eighty-four points. Where do you get that from?” Eagles’ coach Mitch Sanders asked his players after their improbable performance gave the school its first-ever 4A playoff win.
“You just about gave me a heart attack giving up 50, but what this game boiled down to was Lakeridge making a bunch of turnovers and us not making any.”
The HRV defense surrendered 50 points for the second time this season and allowed the Pacers to compile 503 yards of offense — the second highest total of 2002 (Summit had 525 yards on Sept. 20). But the ‘D’ atoned for its mistakes in critical situations, cashing in on a season-high four takeaways.
Ryan Flory and Justin Krizman snagged second-half interceptions, while Bryan Williams and Flory each recovered a fumble, giving the offense all the fuel it would need.
Jacobe Krizman, the new state-record holder, ran for 335 yards and five touchdowns, raising his already-obnoxious season totals to 2,701 yards and 38 TD’s. He also caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Jarrod Fogle to add to his school-record total of 43 touchdowns scored.
Fogle padded his numbers in the first half with an 80-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dominic Buttaccio, while the Eagles’ other featured back, Chris Searles, cruised to a season-high 151 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 13 on the season.
HRV’s 84 points scored broke the school record of 70 set on Sept. 20 at Summit, and also represents a new Oregon 4A high-school playoff record (formerly held by Jefferson, which had 70 points in 1959).
“We set the tone out of the gate and they just couldn’t stop us,” said Sanders, whose team racked up 733 yards of total offense. “One thing is for sure: Those Portland guys have one long bus ride ahead of them tonight.”
The school-best offensive effort was also the Eagles’ fifth game over 50 points this year, and raised their season scoring average to 53 points per game. Meanwhile, Krizman crossed the 300-yard mark for the fifth time this season and nearly set the single-game playoff rushing record, which is held by
McNary’s Andy Taylor after last year’s state championship game (357 yards).
“Our offensive line just threw ‘em around tonight,” said junior fullback Nigel Bond, who accounted for 53 of the Eagles’ 625 rushing yards. “Business as usual, I guess.”
That’s how it has seemed from the sidelines all season long, as Eagle fans have come to expect big things from Bond, Searles, Krizman and the HRV offensive line.
“Nothing surprises us anymore,” long-time KIHR radio broadcaster Mark Bailey said during his Friday night broadcast. “You think you’ve seen it all and they just keep putting up even bigger offensive numbers.”
With devastating offensive performances week after week, the Eagles have made believers out of every team in the state. Regardless of what anyone knew about HRV before the season, they are figuring it out now. Weekly outputs of 500-plus yards and 50-plus points have made the other 15 teams still alive pay very close attention.
They understand that it’s one thing to rack up ungodly numbers against teams like Summit and The Dalles, but it’s something entirely different to do it against a playoff team — let alone, a good playoff team.
To put HRV’s monumental playoff effort into perspective, consider that Lakeridge was no pansy — a three-seed from the perennially powerful Three Rivers League, which is also home to state-title contenders, Clackamas and Lake Oswego.
Also consider that, before the season, the Eagles were picked to finish fourth (at best) in the Intermountain Conference and were given little if any chance of winning in the playoffs — a goal that Matt Cody and his fellow seniors have had on their minds since freshman year.
“We’re ecstatic,” said the all-conference guard. “This is the first time in our history that we’ve won in the playoffs, and we want to keep it going. If we can step up our defense the rest of the way, we’ll be unbeatable.”
Cody and the Eagles say they need to rediscover the edge that helped them earn a 35-0 win over Mountain View on Nov. 1.
“It feels good to break 80, but we still gave up 50,” said junior tackle Zach Royall. “We really wanted to show more with our defense this game. It’s going to be a tough week of practice.”
HRV is gearing up for Friday’s second-round match-up with undefeated and fourth-ranked Canby, which is coming off a 34-19 win over Glencoe in the first round.
What the Eagles don’t want to do is get into a shootout with the Cougars — which is exactly what happened last Friday against Lakeridge. The game was a barnburner from the opening kickoff, as the two teams traded leads on seven of the opening eight possessions.
The Pacers got things started on the game’s first drive with a 65-yard TD run by senior Kyle Erwin. Krizman answered, and after a defensive hold, scored again on a 79-yard burst to make it 14-6 Eagles. Lakeridge quarterback David McCormack connected with Trevor Tesar to tie it up at 14, but Searles broke free two minutes later to put HRV back on top.
The lead didn’t last long, as Erwin returned a kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown. Krizman added one more score before the end of the quarter, but the Eagles fell behind 28-27 on the Pacers’ first possession of the second quarter. However, that was all the fun Lakeridge would have, as the HRV offense scored 36 unanswered points to put the game away.
HRV will try to maintain its offensive momentum this Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Canby.
“Our playoff run isn’t over yet,” Bond said. “We’re going to keep on going.”