Continued improvement by the Hood River Valley High Eagles football team was evident Friday evening with the team’s 45-19 road win over the Redmond Panthers. For the Eagles (1-2), guided by coach Caleb Sperry, it was an important win that helped the team regain some momentum as it heads into the heart of the nine-game regular season.
“We needed a win after losing two weeks in a row,” said Sperry. “It was definitely a confidence-building win. It helps provide the kids with a good outlook while knowing that we can continue to improve. From the first game (a 47-21 loss Aug. 30 to Sandy) through Friday, we’ve demonstrated incredible growth as a team. That’s what this is all about and we will strive to get better every week.”
The Eagle trio of junior quarterback Riley Van Hoose (19-32 passing, 287 yards, four TDs), senior receiver Wyatt Webber (nine receptions, 174 yards, four TDs) and senior running back Jeremy Fischer (22 carries, 168 yards rushing, two TDs) helped lead HRV to the victory.
“We’re really glad to get the win, but more importantly, it’s exciting to see how well we came out and eliminated mistakes that we had the previous week,” said Sperry. “We took care of the ball and didn’t have any turnovers. We did a lot better job of executing all the way around. We did a better job of protecting the quarterback and we were blocking better for the running backs. It was good seeing how much we improved in one week.”
HRV improved significantly in eliminating costly penalty yardage as it had five penalties for 41 yards versus Redmond. The previous week in a 49-33 home loss to Forest Grove Sept. 6, HRV had 16 penalties for 106 yards.
HRV took the lead after a 13-play, 77-yard scoring drive, capped by a Van Hoose 6-yard touchdown pass to Webber. Martin Lanthaler, a senior foreign exchange student from Italy, kicked the point after touchdown for a 7-0 Eagle lead with 4:03 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles extended the margin when Fischer scored on a 5-yard TD run to conclude a 13-play, 88-yard drive and Lanthaler’s PAT made it 14-0 midway through the second. HRV maintained a 14-point margin up 21-7 at halftime.
After an Eagle scoring drive made it 28-7 in the third, Redmond (1-2) came back with consecutive scoring possessions, trimming it to 28-19 after three quarters.
The Eagles responded quickly in the fourth by scoring two touchdowns in a span of just 2:17. A four-play, 95-yard drive, highlighted by a 75-yard TD toss from Van Hoose to Webber, followed by Lanthaler’s PAT made it 35-19 with 10:56 remaining in the game. The Eagles scored again on another Van Hoose TD throw to Webber and Lanthaler’s PAT made it 42-19 with 8:39 left. A Lanthaler 33-yard field goal with 36 seconds left capped the scoring for the final margin.
HRV outgained Redmond in total yardage 546 to 246. The Eagles had a balanced offense with 259 yards rushing and 287 passing yards. Junior receiver Patrick Crompton contributed well to the passing game with five receptions for 69 yards. Van Hoose also displayed his role as a dual threat offensive weapon as he had 14 carries for 66 yards rushing.
The Eagles will try to notch a second win when they host the North Salem Vikings (0-3) Friday in a 7 p.m. nonleague contest at Henderson Community Stadium. The Class 6A Vikings of the Central Valley Conference have been outscored 114-20, including a 48-7 loss to Lakeridge in their last game Sept. 13.
“We’re excited about playing at home again and we’ll have another tough challenge Friday,” said Sperry. “The kids have goals that they’ve set and they want to maintain the momentum we’ve gained from winning our first game. They’ll continue to work hard in practice and then execute well Friday to help provide us hopefully with a good chance to win.”