By BEN MCCARTY
News staff writer
August 26, 2006
No, the headline is not a typo or clichéd Eagle reference.
The Hood River Valley Eagles really are spreading their wing this year...the single wing offense, that is.
Second-year coach Tracy Jackson is one of only a few coaches in the state to run an offensive set that has been declared all but extinct across the country.
“It works because so few people run it anymore,” Jackson said.
The terminology, formation and positions can throw the casual observer for a loop, and Jackson hopes that it will have the same effect on opposing defenses this season.
After a 3-7 campaign last year, Jackson feels that this year’s team will be significantly improved.
“On defense we are much faster and more physical than last year,” Jackson said. “Last year’s guys are a year older and stronger.”
Jackson hopes to build his team on defense this season, after year in which he said the team typically scored over 30 points a game, but only came away with three wins.
“We will be a better football team defensively,” Jackson said.
Several of the team’s senior leaders believe that this squad has the makings of a winner.
“I’m pretty stoked,” senior Chase Munos said. “We’ve got the talent to get to the playoffs.”
Players are also excited for the new offensive system.
“I think the new stuff is going to benefit us,” senior Ian Bohince said. Senior Jon Davis added that he is very excited about putting the new offense into action.
All three players also agreed on another thing they are excited for this season: No more long bus trips for league games.
Jackson said that the shorter trips will help keep his team fresh for away games, but also feels they are going into a tough conference.
Central Catholic is considered to be the favorite to win the Mt. Hood Conference this season. The Rams finished second to Barlow in the Conference last year, but had an influx of transfer players for this season.
With the addition of Hood River Valley into the conference, it receives an extra playoff birth, giving it five for this season.
While Central Catholic is the favorite, several coaches polled across the conference felt the that the battle for the remaining four spots would be wide open among for the rest of the teams.
“We are a small school competing in a big school classification,” Jackson said. “We are going to do what gives us the best opportunity to win.”
Those “opportunities,” could come in the form of some reverse plays, pounding the ball with single wing’s confusing array of running plays, or even the pass, a rare sight in the team’s old Double Wing offense.
“We’ll throw if its there,” Jackson said. “We’ve got it if we need it.”
Among his key players for the season Jackson listed Bohince and Munos, as well as J.J Johnson, who is new the team this year.
Bohince was second in the state in rushing through three games last season before being lost to injury, and Jackson describes Johnson as “a weapon.”
Jackson also said it would be hard to find a team in the state with three better tight ends, and that the team brings a lot of experience to both the offensive line and defense.
“Last year’s guys are a year older and stronger,” Jackson said of a defensive group that had to start several sophomores last season.
The team has been working on the Single Wing offense throughout practice over the last two weeks, and Jackson believes that the team has it down.
He also feels that having a year under his belt has allowed the players and coaches to get to know him better, and that he has gotten to know them better.
Last year Jackson was hired on late in the summer and didn’t have the opportunity. He expects this year to be different.
After putting them through a week of twice-a-day practices, Jackson feels that the team has improved its overall toughness, a trait he says that they will need to stay ahead of bigger schools with more manpower this season.
“If you get 11 tough guys on the field, you are going to win,” Jackson said. “I feel we have a group of tough guys.”
The Eagles play their first home game of the season against McKay at 7 p.m., Sept. 1, at Henderson Community Field.