Preseason prognosticators for the Intermountain Conference had the Hood River Valley football team somewhere in the middle. A low-seed playoff team at best.
Joining a conference that featured 2001 state semifinalist, Pendleton, and two more powerhouses, Bend and Hermsiton, HRV was given little chance to emerge any higher than the No. 4 seed.
But the prognosticators forgot to ask the 13 Eagle seniors what they thought might happen. So they did everything in their power to prove it on the field.
“Power” is the operative word here.
Behind the brute force of a senior-dominated offensive line, and two guys named Krizman and Searles, the Eagles ran through the IMC with a 6-1 record, a No. 2 seed, and a slew of new school and state records.
They also won the first 4A playoff game in school history (84-50 over Lakeridge on Nov. 8), and showed the rest of the IMC that the new kids on the block aren’t afraid of anyone.
“The seniors took this program to a place it hasn’t been before,” coach Mitch Sanders told his players after the team’s second-round playoff loss to Canby on Nov. 15. “We’re not going to dwell on what we could have done differently this game. Instead, we’re going to dwell on the job of all 13 seniors.
“We have a ton of pride from this season, and I will remember this group of seniors forever,” he said.
So will the community, and likely, the entire state.
Jacobe Krizman made sure of that, as he rewrote the state rushing record books with an earth-shattering 2,845 yards in 11 games. He racked up 300 or more yards in five games this season, and scored a school-record 44 touchdowns —which doesn’t include two touchdown passes he threw on Oct. 4.
The 352 yards Krizman accumulated during an Oct. 25 game at Crook County — the game in which he set the state record — stands as the new single-game rushing record at HRV, while his outputs of 340 (Hermiston, Sept. 27); 335 (Lakeridge, Nov. 8); 331 (Summit, Sept. 20); and 313 (Pendleton, Oct. 18) rank second through fifth in school history.
But even with a mountain of individual accomplishments, the Conference Player of the Year always gives credit where credit is due. As well he should.
Offensive linemen Matt Cody (all-IMC first team), Tommy Owyen (second team), Danny Phelps (second team), Zach Royall (second team), Nate Dethman (second team), Dominic Buttaccio (second team), and Jared Gidley (honorable mention) all provided superlative blocking for Krizman and the Eagles running backs all year long.
Fellow senior Chris Searles earned second-team recognition after totaling 931 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns (two receiving), while junior fullback Nigel Bond gave the Eagles an excellent third option on offense with totals of 702 yards and six touchdowns.
Second-year starting quarterback Jarrod Fogle was Mr. Reliable this year, putting nearly every pass attempt right on the mark to his primary targets, Buttaccio and Krizman.
The three-sport star finished his senior campaign with 495 passing yards, nine touchdowns and just two interceptions, while completing over 50 percent of his passes.
Defensive standouts for the Eagles this year were Krizman, Searles, Bryan Williams, Noel Thomas and Dago Rivera at linebacker; Jorge Lujano and Phelps at defensive tackle; Gidley and Luke McCarthy at defensive end; and Ryan Flory, Rocky Level, Sam Murillo and Justin Krizman at defensive back.