HERMISTON — One of most agonizing things about a loss — especially an overtime loss — is hindsight: “What could we have done differently to win the game.”
In the case of the HRV Eagles, who lost their first game of the season 50-49 to Hermiston last Friday, the most agonizing part is knowing that they really should have won.
“We outmuscled ‘em and out-toughed ‘em, but made too many mental mistakes,” senior guard/ linebacker Matt Cody said. “The effort was great — maybe our best of the season — but the little things just killed us.”
The Eagles had two chances to win the game — once in regulation and once in overtime — but gave up too many big plays to quarterback Justin Ramirez and his receivers.
After taking the lead 43-35 with 7:08 left in the fourth quarter, Ramirez and the Bulldogs marched the length of the field to tie the game at 43 and send it to overtime.
HRV started with the ball in overtime and after an impressive drive, scored the go-ahead touchdown on a short Jacobe Krizman run. However, they were unable to complete the two-point conversion, which left the door open for Hermiston.
Ramirez eventually punched the ball in from one yard to set up the game-winning extra point and send HRV home in disappointment.
“If our defense played like our offense has been playing, we’d be the best team in the state,” said linebacker Jason DeHart.
“Our worst enemy is ourselves,” added Krizman, who broke the school rushing record for the second straight game with 340 yards. “We had a lot of alignment problems and people not going to the right spot on defense. We know what we have to do, and now we just need to do it.”
The Eagles welcome one of the league’s top teams, Bend, to town on Friday, and plan to take out some of their frustrations.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” Krizman said. “No one is giving up hope for the IMC title just because of one loss. That’s our goal, and if we take care of business every week like I know we can, we can win out and maybe get a share of the title.”
One of the main reasons Krizman and the Eagles believe they can catch Hermiston is that they are supremely confident in their offensive line — a corps of bruisers that has been playing together for the past four seasons.
“We’ve been running with the same O-line since we were freshmen and now, we’re bigger, faster and stronger,” Cody said. “Our biggest advantage is that we work harder than everyone else, and we’re just going to have to work harder now.”
Neither Cody nor Krizman were intimidated by the Bulldogs’ imposing front line, and don’t expect to see another team this season that can line up with them as well.
“If you ask me, we have the best O-line in the state,” Krizman said of his blocking mates Danny Phelps, Nate Dethman, Jared Gidley, Tommy Owyen, Jorge Lujano, Zach Royall and Cody.
Krizman also credited fullbacks Nigel Bond and Luke McCarthy for their work in the backfield.
“With these guys, it’s easy,” he said. “There’s a hole every time as long as I just follow my blockers.”
Krizman, who has rushed for a whopping 997 yards and 12 touchdowns in four games, said he doesn’t have any personal goals for the season; he just wants to help the team reach its playoff goals.
“My preseason goal was to run for 1,000 yards and make the playoffs,” he said. “I didn’t really expect this, but people don’t understand how much of it is the line. They’re unstoppable this year.”