BEND — After two straight cliff-hanger wins, the Hood River Valley Eagles were determined to play a complete game last Friday at Mountain View to help them gear up for the playoffs.
The only catch was, they had to do it on the road — a place that hasn’t always been kind to HRV since joining the Intermountain Conference last year.
But it was no rough road this time around. Coach Mitch Sanders finally got the dominating four-quarter road win he wanted as HRV rolled to a 41-10 victory over the Cougars.
“We finally played hard for all four quarters,” said Sanders, whose team finished 6-1 in the IMC for the second straight year (8-1 overall).
“Before this game, we had seen zero growth for the past four weeks. But we made huge strides against Mountain View. If we had played this way at Bend, I doubt if we would have lost that game. And I don’t think the Crook County and Pendleton games would have been that close either,” he said.
Thanks to a dominating performance by the defensive front seven and two 100-yard rushing efforts by Rocky Level (104) and Nigel Bond (133), the Eagles jumped out to a 12-0 halftime lead before turning on the jets for four second-half touchdowns.
Level scored two TD’s on the ground and also threw a 47-yard TD pass to Adam Brown, who started at safety for one of three players removed from the team late last week for disciplinary reasons.
“Adam stepped up and played a huge game for us,” said Sanders, who asked that the three disciplined players not be named.
“We didn’t miss a beat with him back there, and he also helped us out a lot on offense.”
Brown, a junior, hauled in the TD pass from Level and also carried the ball nine times for 77 yards — the first time he has broken out since a 100-yard performance against Bend on Oct. 3.
Two others got into the passing game for HRV, which totaled a season-high 107 yards through the air. Kyle Maurer completed a 53-yard pass to Danny Newton and quarterback Alex Princehouse found senior tight end Heath Goin for a 7-yard touchdown late in the game.
All told, the Eagles amassed 456 yards on 48 plays, and allowed a meager 179 total yards to Mountain View— just 26 of them on the ground. They also recorded three more takeaways to give them 34 on the season (avg. 4 per game).
“The defense just played awesome and you could tell they were really enjoying themselves,” said Sanders, whose team opens the Class 4A state playoffs Friday against Clackamas.
“It was exactly the effort we needed because we weren’t making a lot of progress the past few weeks. If we play that hard and stay healthy, I’d say we have a great shot against Clackamas.”
The Cavaliers come into Friday’s game with the No. 1-ranked defense in the Three Rivers League, which allowed just 161 yards per game (58 yards rushing).
They are also coming off a big 35-6 league win over playoff-bound West Linn, and are just starting to find a rhythm after some early-season disciplinary problems.
“We’re not going to have many 90-yard runs or anything,” Sanders said. “But if we can average between 5 and 7 yards per carry, we’ll be right with them.”
After all, HRV prides itself on defense as well, holding the No. 1 IMC ranking after giving up an average of 276 total yards per game.
“It’s going to be a good game and I believe in our guys,” Sanders said. “We just need to bring the same effort as we did against Mountain View.”
Game time is 7 p.m. Friday at Henderson Stadium.