Anyone who followed Gorge Youth Football this season would have to agree that the best two teams in the league resided in Hood River.
Hood River Green and Hood River Blue each came into Saturday’s season finale at Henderson Stadium with identical 5-0 records and one thing on their minds — to finish undefeated.
Behind a rugged rushing attack, a powerful offensive line and a relentless defense, HR Blue claimed the 2002 title by a score of 20-14. But, while only one team could walk away the league champion, both teams walked away winners.
“We had to play our best to beat these guys,” said Blue running back Elliot Sherrell, whose 45-yard scamper in the second quarter put his team up 20-6. “We ran the ball pretty well, but it was all about the offensive line tonight.”
Not to mention the defense of linebacker Sean Baker, who made two key stops late in the fourth quarter to squash Green’s last-second attempt to win the game.
“Our goal for this game was to take down Bohince and McHale,” said lineman Alex Ing, referring to Green’s two star running backs, Jacob Bohince and Jordan McHale. “We knew how tough they were and wanted to keep them quiet.”
Bohince was able to score Green’s first touchdown midway through the first quarter to tie the game 6-6 after an early touchdown by Jonathan Davis.
Then, after Tyler Williams and Sherrell scored, McHale also got into the scoring stat book with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Talentino on the final play of the first half, which narrowed Blue’s lead to six points.
After combining to score 34 points in the first half, the second half was more of a defensive battle for both teams. Drive after drive, the ball was turned over on downs as neither team was able to complete the big plays that dominated the first half.
Blue had a chance to put the game away midway through the fourth quarter after Eric Rojas intercepted a pass at midfield. But Green’s defense was up to the challenge and got the ball back for one final drive with less than two minutes remaining.
Green earned a first down at the Blue 30 yard line with just 46 seconds left, and made their final push toward the endzone. But an offsides call and two tackles for loss by Baker secured the win and the title for Blue.
“This was a great game,” said Davis, “and it was good to win against our friends. Both teams were undefeated; it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Blue won back the Gorge Youth Football title it earned in 2000 — a title that was taken away by Green in 2001.
“I think we can do it again,” said Ing. “We have half the guys returning and we want to make it two in a row this time.”