The defending Columbia River Conference champion Hood River Valley High Eagles started their schedule on the road Friday evening against the Sandy Pioneers. Things were looking good for head coach Caleb Sperry and his Eagles, who were up 14-10 midway through the second quarter. Sandy regained the momentum though, scoring 31 unanswered points before HRV could score another touchdown, to take control of the game and finish with a 47-21 victory.
“We just ran into a team that was better-prepared and more eager to win than we were,” said Sperry. “The cool thing about sports is that you can come back and improve some things and hopefully play better in the next game.”
The Eagles (0-1) move on to face Forest Grove at home this Friday, 7 p.m. at Henderson Community Stadium. The 6A Vikings won their season opener 35-6 Aug. 30 over Benson. The Eagles defeated the Vikings 34-21 last year in Forest Grove and will be hoping for a repeat performance.
Friday’s contest, like all HRV games, will be broadcast by Mark Bailey on KIHR radio beginning with a 6:30 p.m. pregame show.
“We’re really looking forward to Friday’s home game,” said Sperry. “It’s an opportunity to go out there and re-establish ourselves and to see how well the kids will respond.”
At Sandy, HRV battled back from a 10-0 deficit and got on the scoreboard when junior quarterback Riley Van Hoose (17-33 passing, 155 yards, three TDs) threw a touchdown pass to junior receiver Patrick Crompton (eight receptions, 30 yards, two TDs). Martin Lanthaler’s extra point kick narrowed the margin to 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Eagles’ momentum continued in the second quarter, when Crompton capped a scoring drive with a 13-yard TD reception from Van Hoose. Lanthaler booted the PAT and the Eagles were flying high, up 14-10 with eight minutes, one second showing on the clock until halftime.
Junior Steven Swafford then helped provide HRV with a chance to extend its advantage when he intercepted a pass to thwart a Sandy second quarter offensive possession. The Eagles then proceeded to march deep into Pioneer territory at Sandy’s 21-yard line.
Following an HRV timeout, Sandy intercepted a fourth-down Van Hoose pass to regain possession at its own 28-yard line. Sandy capitalized on the turnover and regained the momentum while scoring two touchdowns in the last four minutes of the quarter to build a 22-14 halftime edge.
“We did some good things at times during the game,” said Sperry. “We came back after falling behind early and took the lead, but then we just lost our momentum. They (Pioneers) regained control by displaying lots of emotion and competing with a higher energy level than we did.”
Sandy extended the margin to 31-14 after three quarters and then built a 41-14 fourth quarter lead. HRV trimmed the margin to 41-21 with 4:01 left in the game on a 10-yard TD pass from Van Hoose to senior receiver Wyatt Webber (three receptions, 67 yards, TD). Sandy answered with a scoring drive, making it 47-21 with 1:12 left.
Senior running back Jeremy Fischer led the Eagles ground game with 15 carries for 60 yards rushing.
“Sandy came out in the second half and really controlled the line of scrimmage by playing more physical and showing a lot of desire to win,” said Sperry. “We have to execute at a higher level, make good tackles and sustain blocks, but we didn’t do any of those things very good. It showed that there are some things that we were not prepared for. We’ll have to come out at practice this week and work hard to improve the things that we didn’t do very well.”