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The end of a dream

Canby halts Hood River Valley’s short playoff run

CANBY — It would have taken a Herculean effort by the HRV football team to beat No. 4-ranked Canby in their house last Friday.

All the chips were stacked against the upstart Eagles, as they rolled into a jam-packed Cougar Stadium to face the undefeated Cougars in the second round of the 4A state playoffs.

But the chips weren’t the only things stacked against the Eagles Friday night. An endless sea of dark blue jerseys was also in the way, as Canby stuffed the HRV rushing attack on the way to a 42-20 win.

“They executed and we didn’t,” senior running back Jacobe Krizman said. “That’s all there is to it. The all-out effort we needed just wasn’t there for us.”

Krizman was held to his second-lowest output of the season (144 yards), while the high-powered Eagle offense was limited to just 326 yards and 20 points — both season lows.

“That was the best defense we’ve seen by far,” said Krizman, who finished the season with a state-record total of 2,845 yards in 11 games. “They surprised us with everything tonight.”

Canby, on the other hand, appeared undaunted, racing through the gaps on offense and plugging all the holes on defense. The Cougars appeared to be in control from the outset, and gave the HRV offense very little wiggle room to get back in the game.

“This could have been our game, but our heads just weren’t in it tonight,” said senior running back Chris Searles, who finished with 93 yards and two touchdowns.

“We didn’t play Eagle football in the second half, and it’s a little disappointing to know that we didn’t give them our best game.”

But, despite some feelings of regret on the sidelines, the Eagles were just two plays from making it a game.

After narrowing the deficit to 21-14 at halftime, HRV got within scoring position on the first possession of the third quarter. But Nolan Johnson’s 33-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide, and Canby took over deep in their own territory.

Sensing how close they were to breaking through, the HRV defense stood up tall with their third hold of the game at the Canby 17 yardline, which put the Eagles in prime position to knot up the score. But a fumbled handoff on the second play of the drive postponed the comeback.

On the very next play, Canby tight end Landon Stewart ran for big yardage to set up a 24-yard TD catch by sophomore halfback Shawn Doman. By the end of the third quarter, it was 35-14. One minute into the fourth, it was 42-14.

“I think we got ahead of ourselves a little,” Searles said. “We thought we could just come in here and do what we’ve done all year, which is put up big numbers. We didn’t work as hard as we needed to, and got beat.”

Although Searles and the other 12 seniors would have liked to go out on a winning note, very few teams are fortunate to end their season that way. Of the 32 playoff teams that started the tournament on Nov. 8, only one will finish with a “W.”

With any luck, that team may be Canby. The Cougars proved on Friday why they are 11-0, combining a rugged defense with an opportunistic Wing-T offense. They were the first team this season to shut down Krizman (if giving up 144 yards can be considered shutting someone down) and are flying high as they enter Friday’s quarterfinal matchup with eighth-ranked South Medford — a team they defeated earlier in the season.

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For a complete wrap-up of HRV’s incredible season, see the Nov. 23 edition.

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