The Hood River Valley High School football team is looking for redemption under this Friday night’s lights, in the Eagles’ season opener.
The Sandy Pioneers are coming to town for the 7 p.m. game at Henderson Stadium, with a third-year starting quarterback in Justin Adams and first-year coach Gary Barton. The Pioneers were the Eagles’ nemesis in 2011, winning twice: the season opener at Sandy, 38-19, and the playoff play-in game at the end of the season, 41-17.
“They beat us soundly,” said fourth-year Eagle head coach Caleb Sperry
“Sandy is our next opponent, and that’s our focus right now, but we want to go into every game challenging ourselves to be as perfect as we can,” Sperry said, adding that his senior leaders are setting the tone of hard work the is imbued throughout the team.
The Eagles play a total of six non-conference games, including home tests against Redmond on Sept. 14 and St. Helens (Homecoming) on Sept. 28, before its Columbia River Conference opener on Thursday, Oct. 11, at Pendleton. The CRC home opener will be Oct. 19 with Hermiston.
For Sandy and the rest of the 2012 schedule, Sperry feels he has a solid response this year, with a strong and experienced offensive line –– all told he has 20 seniors on the squad –– and his deepest-ever skill positions, led by senior quarterback Luke Kopecky.
“We’ll run a multiple-set offense, with different formations; we have a lot of playmakers, we’ve got probably the best depth in a long time at receivers and running backs. Luke spent a bunch of time being versed at what he does. The offensive line is made up of capable, strong, motivated kids.” The offensive line features returning all-leaguers Nick Morgan, Raoul Ramirez and Kyle Beam, and seniors Nick Weekly and David Brunk.
“These guys are great workers, and they’re executing and playing at a fast speed,” Sperry said. “We have to be disciplined, and make that commitment every day. Our challenge as a team is to come every day with that attitude, with that workman attitude.”
Defensively Hood River Valley will present an event-front with four men on the line. “We have great linebackers, with Eli Fults a returning al- league, David Brunk, Kyle Beam, Wyatt Webber, Nick Morgan, Brandon Domignuez.
“We’re deep and that bodes well for us,” Sperry said.
He said that in 2012 Sandy “was pretty physical up front, and their scheme will change, with a new coach. I expect them to be wide open, throw it around; we’re guessing it will be more of a spread offense, a four-receiver type team. We’re expecting them to showcase the quarterback, and we’re preparing for it, but also need to be prepared for the run.”
Indeed, Barton, a former NFL quarterback, told the Sandy Post (July 17) “We’re going to throw a lot more.”
Sperry said, “We’re just trying to challenge ourselves on every play; to be mentally tough and disicplined; to get each player to challenge yourself in your responsibility to do it perfectly and at the speed it’s supposed to be done.
“I’m just looking forward to the new season, and the kids are excited, they have great attitudes,” he said. “They’re making it fun so far. I’m looking forward to competing.”