Friday, September 27, 2002
Alright, let’s be honest. Who thought that after three weeks of Intermountain Conference play, HRV would be talking about three undefeated teams?
Not that we doubted the boys and girls soccer teams or the football team, but the probability of having three programs make such an
impressive impact to open IMC play was
certainly not a given.
We saw what the soccer guys could do last year when they advanced to the state quarterfinals, but after losing four key members of that team, we weren’t sure what to expect in 2002. Not anymore.
Playing state-ranked Redmond to a draw and then reeling off three straight convincing victories over Bend, Crook County and Hermiston proved that these guys are back with a vengeance. They’re determined to take their act further in the playoffs this year, and if they can just overcome their recent bout with the injury bug, they’ll be right there at the end.
“We think we can go further this year,” senior Matt Dallman told me before the season. “We’ve got something to prove.”
The girls are also intent on making their mark during their first year of IMC competition. They took a couple games to get uncorked, settling for two draws, but then came unglued, scoring 13 goals and allowing just three shots on goal to win the next two games.
This senior-dominated bunch will undoubtedly have a say in who wins the IMC title this year, and while they still remain cautiously optimistic, there appears to be a swagger that was missing from last year’s team.
Junior striker Acer Lopez may challenge for the league scoring title, while senior captain Becca Meierbachtol could be in the running for league MVP. As she demonstrated last year, her consistency and leadership — not to mention her health — are critical to this team’s success. Whether they win the title outright or squeak into the playoffs as a No. 3 or 4 seed, there are even better times a comin’ for this group.
The same can be said about the gridiron guys, who still have a ways to go to prove their worth in the brutal IMC since only one of their three wins has come against a conference opponent. But, while their first three games may have been their easiest on paper, the Eagles left zero doubt as to which was the better team in each outing, posting point totals of 69, 42 and 70.
When a team can break the school points record twice and set new marks for rushing yards and total offense in just its first three games — no matter who they’re against — they are going to be a force.
Riding on the stout shoulders of
Jacobe Krizman (819 total yards, 12 TDs in three games) and a mammoth offensive line, the Eagles should be a contender for the conference title. Their first chance to prove it came Friday night against league front-runner Hermiston (see the Oct. 2 edition for full details).
“We’re so fired up right now,” linebacker Matt Cody told me on Thursday. “We know what we are capable of, and we’re anxious to prove it every week. Hermiston is a huge game, but for us, every game this year is huge.”
Cody and the seniors want to take home the hardware, and are on a mission to establish themselves in the IMC during their first season. They, like the boys and girls soccer teams, want to lay a strong foundation for their successors and finish their high-school careers on top.
Whether we’re talking about three undefeated teams at season’s end remains to be seen. But if all the chips fall as they should, we will be talking about three state playoff teams —much to the dismay of the other IMC schools, who will probably just have to get used to it.