The HRV football team may be 4-1, but if you ask coach Mitch Sanders, the Eagles aren’t patting themselves on the back just yet.
“We’re not satisfied with where we’re at,” said the fourth-year head coach, whose team sits tied for second place in the Intermountain Conference at 2-1. “There are still some things we need to work on with our defense, and what’s great about this year’s team is they want to get better each week.”
Despite giving up 30-plus points on Friday for the fourth game this season, the HRV defense was able to hold a high-powered Bend offense when it counted.
Two key second-half stops and one right before halftime allowed Jacobe Krizman and the Eagles’ offense to do what it does best — run the football.
Krizman raised his IMC- and state-leading rushing totals to 1,253 yards on Friday behind inspired play by the offensive line. Superb efforts by Chris Searles (105 yards) and Nigel Bond (99 yards) also helped vary the HRV attack to keep the Bend defense guessing.
“We have to keep in mind that we can beat anyone if we play to our potential,” Sanders said. “But we can’t let one big win lull us into thinking we can just go in and beat everyone. No one is going to roll over for us, and to get where we want to be, we have to avoid a letdown this week.”
The Eagles travel to Redmond Friday to face a revamped Panthers squad, which has started the season 1-2 (2-3 overall) after a 9-3 playoff campaign last year.
Redmond may have played its best game of the season last Friday against Summit, winning 31-0, but Sanders noted that the Panthers did not dominate by any means.
“They basically scored one touchdown per quarter and got two in the fourth,” he said. “Their quarterback is struggling a bit in his new role, but appears to be comfortable when he’s running the ball. That’s what we’re going to key in on.”
HRV’s run defense has been one of the best in the IMC, allowing just 616 yards through five games, and will look to stuff option quarterback Bruce Warden, who was one of the IMC’s top rushers in 2001.
The Panthers rely on Warden and tailback Branden Carpenter for most of their firepower, and aside from last Friday’s shut-out win, are second-to-last in the IMC in points scored and total offense.
While the defensive line and the linebackers worry about Warden and Carpenter, the HRV secondary will have to focus on speedy wideout Sam Huston.
But, on the heels of its best all-around game, the HRV secondary will be looking to maintain its high level of play on every snap.
“We’re going to go into this game very focused,” Sanders said. “I don’t expect to see a letdown, and I think our guys learned a lot from last year. Chemistry-wise, this is a completely different team, and I believe their heads are in it.”
Game time is at 7 p.m. Friday in Redmond. The game will be broadcast live on KIHR 1340 AM, and will also be one of two featured games on Oregonlive.com. Click on Sports, “Cams + Radio,” “Next Audio” and then “HS football.”