BEND — The stars were shining bright last Friday when the HRV football team traveled to Bend for its first-ever Intermountain Conference matchup against the Summit Storm.
But, the beauty of the night sky took a back seat to Eagles’ star running backs Jacobe Krizman, Nigel Bond and Chris Searles, who propelled HRV to a 70-48 victory and coach Mitch Sanders to his first 3-0 start in four seasons.
Behind devastating blocking from a seasoned offensive line, Krizman broke the HRV single-game rushing record with 331 yards, and added five touchdowns (two receiving) to his league-leading total of 12.
Bond, a junior fullback, also had a breakout game with 229 yards and two touchdowns, while Searles tallied 81 yards and three TD’s, helping the Eagles’ offense weather the Storm for school records of 638 rushing yards, 728 total yards and 70 points scored.
Senior quarterback Jarrod Fogle also had a big night, cashing in on all three of his pass attempts for 90 yards and two touchdowns — both to Krizman — raising his season totals to 7-9 passes completed for 270 yards, 7 TD’s and no interceptions.
“I don’t know if those records will ever be broken,” said Sanders, whose team put up 49 points in the first half alone. “The Summit defense tried everything and simply couldn’t stop us. I know what our guys can do, but I’m even amazed at their output.”
The Eagles have amassed 181 points and 1,639 yards of total offense in their three victories for mammoth averages of 60 points and 546 total yards.
Their electric offensive performances have also helped them gain the respect of the state’s coaches and media members, who voted them No. 16 in the most recent 4A poll.
“That’s the first time this has happened for us at the 4A level,” Sanders said about the poll. “We don’t care if we only got one or two votes. It’s huge for this program. Our goal now is to crack the top 10.”
To accomplish that goal, the Eagles will need to prove their worth in the next two games against league powers Hermiston (Friday) and Bend (Oct. 4 at home), who are ranked 11 and 12, respectively.
“Right now, Hermiston is the team to beat in the IMC,” Sanders said. “Bend is pretty solid as well. But if we play to our potential, we have a good shot at winning those games. By no means are we going to let down because we started 3-0. Our guys know they have to focus hard this week if they want to play for that top playoff spot.”
The players say that what the team needs to focus on most is its defense.
“It feels good to get our first conference win, but we really shouldn’t have given up so many points,” said senior linebacker Noel Thomas. “We’ve got some things we need to work on with our defense if we’re going to keep this up.”
Junior strong safety Rocky Level agreed. “It was nice to win our first conference game in a blowout,” he said. “But we’re not going to get away with giving up 48 points the rest of the way.”
Trying to overcome some injuries, most notably to the team’s top corner Ryan Flory, HRV gave up 425 yards through the air to Summit, which was spurred by the quarter-back/wide receiver combo of Jared Chase and Chris Ward.
“We were really missing Flory in our pass coverage,” Sanders said, “and they took advantage of our inexperience in the secondary. I thought our guys did pretty well filling in, but they needed more help from the linebackers.”
Sanders pointed to the second quarter as the Eagles’ “worst quarter of football all season” — one in which they surrendered 35 points, and allowed Summit to hang around after burying them 21-0 in the first quarter.
The Storm never got within two touchdowns (49-35 at half), however, and HRV was able to shut them out again in the third quarter to take a 62-35 lead into the fourth.
“We looked pretty unstoppable on offense, but weren’t playing very sound defensively,” Sanders said. “Our guys know what needs to be done, and they’ll correct these mistakes before the Hermiston game.”