By BEN MCCARTY
News staff writer
November 8, 2006
Friday night’s game between Hood River Valley and Sandy High School did not have much meaning in the standings, both teams had been eliminated from the playoff chase the week before, but it could not have meant more for the seniors stepping onto the field for the last time.
Hood River seniors Jake Gilkerson, Ian Bohince, Chase Munos, Alex Titus, Matt Hale, Mikel DeHart, Luke Schwartzel, Josh Solmon, Josh Castaneda and Jon Davis got a game to remember as the Eagles downed the Pioneers 21-7 to close out the season.
The win moved the Eagles to 2-5 in the Mount Hood Conference and 4-6 overall, good enough for sixth place in the Conference.
“We’ve been on a losing streak so we went all-out for this game,” Titus said.
Indeed, an Eagle offense that had struggled at times to find the end zone, and an Eagle defense that had struggled to keep opponents out of it, both finished the season strong.
Sandy had hoped to turn the game into a shoot-out where their aggressive offense could get the win. Instead the game bogged down in the muddy trenches on the offensive and defensive lines, playing right into the hands of Hood River’s grinding ground attack.
The Eagles attempted only two passes the entire game and ran the ball 61 times for 347 yards. Ian Bohince led the way for the Eagles as he went out in style with 200 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Gilkerson got the Eagles on the board first when he fought his way into the end zone from a yard out on fourth down for a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
The score came after Hood River’s defense had forced a turnover on downs when Sandy quarterback AJ Schnell was pushed out of bounds just short of a first down on Sandy’s first possession.
At the end of the first quarter shaky pass defense by the Eagles came back to haunt them, as Schnell lobbed a perfectly placed pass to the far pylon in the back of the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.
After a sloppy second quarter in which both teams turned the ball over and neither could score, the Eagles came out reinvigorated in the second half.
On the second play of the half Bohince ran 55 yards to the Sandy 5-yard line to set up a 5-yard touchdown by Chase Munos.
With a 14-7 lead the Hood River defense clamped down, effectively defending the pass and preventing Sandy from gaining any offensive momentum.
After getting no pressure on Schnell in the first half, the Eagle defensive line, led by Titus and Davis, was in Schnell’s face the entire second half, swatting passes down at the line of scrimmage and making him scramble.
Hood River Coach Tracy Jackson gave credit to defensive co-ordinator Caleb Sperry for the turnaround.
“In the last week Caleb Sperry has made some adjustments,” “We tried to get more movement up front and we got more aggressive.”
The secondary, lead by Carratt, Erik Lujano, Munos, and Mark Troxel provided tight coverage to blanket the Pioneer receivers.
“Offensively we had a lot of big fourth and shorts where we couldn’t get it done,” Sandy Coach Todd Quinsey said. “I really expected to score more than seven points tonight.”
After Sandy turned the ball over on downs deep in their own territory early in the fourth quarter, Hood River was quick to capitalize when they got the ball at the Sandy 20-yard line.
Bohince put the game away moments later with a 7-yard touchdown run for a two-score lead with just eight minutes to play.
“I was getting good seams from Scott Funderberg and Cameron Kiyokawa,” Bohince said afterword, giving credit to the offensive line for clearing room for his rushing performance.
Even though his team is losing several key seniors, Jackson sees hope for his team in the future based on their performance this season.
“Even in the games we’ve lost we have competed very well,” Jackson said. “You miss the pieces that everyone brings (when they graduate), and you can’t replace it. You just have to adjust for the new guys coming in.”