The HRV Eagles will begin the 2002 football season Friday night against a familiar — yet equally unfamiliar — Mid Columbia foe.
For the first time since 1994, The Dalles Indians will come roaring through town to renew a gridiron rivalry that holds almost as much tradition as the famed Civil War.
Guided by first-year head coach Steve Sugg, the program’s former defensive coordinator, the Indians have high hopes for 2002, and expect to compete for the Tri-Valley Conference title at the 3A level.
“We’re a little young and inexperienced on both lines, but we’re very talented at the skill positions,” Sugg said. “We might take our lumps early, but I expect that by midseason, we’ll be a very strong football team.”
That strength was evidenced by last Friday’s spirited performance against the No. 3 state-ranked Vale Vikings, which barely outlasted the Tribe in overtime by a score of 28-22. And, if it weren’t for a few late miscues, The Dalles may have walked away a winner.
Piloted by three-year senior starters Cory Carpenter (quarterback) and Epi King (running back/linebacker), The Dalles will rely on strong leadership from its eight seniors, and blazing team speed to remain competitive this season.
“Speed is our biggest asset,” Sugg said. “We’re pretty aggressive and we’ll be mixing up our run and pass plays a lot.”
Carpenter passed for over 2,000 yards in 2001 and also threw for 21 touchdowns, while the powerful 6-foot, 200-pound King has been an anchor in the backfield for the past two years.
Senior wide receiver Dan Kelly will also be a huge contributor, and is regarded as one of the fastest wideouts in the state at any level.
“Two or three tough games early will make us better for the conference season,” Sugg said. “It may take a couple weeks for our guys to get up to speed, but one thing’s for sure: We’re not going to back down from anyone.”
Friday’s matchup begins at 7 p.m. at Henderson Stadium, and seats will fill up fast. Fans are reminded that 2002 ticket prices are $5 for adults, $3 for students and $1 for students with an ASB card. Call the athletics office at 386-2318 with questions.