It was a fantastic setting for the Hood River Valley High Eagles opening home football game with great weather, fireworks and a capacity crowd cheering their team on at Henderson Community Stadium. The Eagles responded to the atmosphere with a dominating 46-6 win over the Madison Senators in the nonleague contest Friday.
The Eagles (1-1) took control from the outset and maintained their momentum all the way while moving up and down the field easily against the bewildered Senators (0-2), who were simply unable to slow HRV’s potent multiple-set offensive attack. Madison, of the Class 6A Portland Interscholastic League, lost its seventh straight game, stretching back to last season.
The trio of senior quarterback Riley Van Hoose (16-for-24 passing, 174 yards, four touchdowns), sophomore running back Bruce Ostler (14 carries, 102 yards rushing, two TD) and senior running back Steven Swafford (eight carries, 68 yards, TD) combined to help lead the offense in the impressive victory.
“It feels great to finally get a win under our belts and doing it in front of our home crowd sure feels nice too,” said Swafford. “We all played with a high energy level to help our team come out here and get a win, which will definitely provide us with lots of momentum. Prior to the game, we all felt confident that we could come out and get a win.”
“It’s a huge win, because it provides our team with a big boost to our confidence level and it gives us some momentum,” said HRV Coach Caleb Sperry. “We’ll have a big test next week against Ridgeview and it will be a good measuring stick for us. Tonight we really demonstrated how well we’re capable of playing. The kids are excited and really playing. There’s a few things that we obviously need to improve on, such as taking better care of the ball. The important thing is we rebounded from a tough loss last week and we eliminated some of the mistakes that we made in our first game.”
Following the pregame fireworks display, sophomore kicker Manny Valdovinos booted the opening kickoff, giving Madison the first offensive possession of the contest. It was a sluggish start early with turnovers by both squads in the first three minutes. Hood River gained control of the ball with nine minutes, 24 seconds on the clock when junior defensive back/receiver Parker Irusta intercepted a pass thrown by Madison quarterback Skylar Williams and returned it 10 yards to the Senator 27-yard line. Swafford capped a six-play scoring drive with a three-yard touchdown scamper, giving the Eagles a 6-0 lead with 8:06 left in the first quarter.
HRV then doubled the margin four minutes later with a six-play, 70-yard scoring drive, highlighted by a 32-yard pass from Van Hoose to junior receiver Montana Kurahara to Madison’s 26. Van Hoose capped the series with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Irusta and Valdovinos converted, giving the Eagles a 13-0 lead with 4:20 on the clock.
In a key point in the second, the Senators proceeded deep into Eagle territory but came up short at the HR seven-yard line. Madison’s Kyle Abalan attempted a 24-yard field goal, but it was blocked by Eagle junior linebacker Zak Ellsworth with 8:52 left.
The Eagles gained control at their own two-yard line and then marched 69 yards to Madison territory before the Senators regained possession at their own 29 with 5:00 left after an HRV fumble, which was one of five total miscues for the Eagles.
The mistake simply delayed the coming blowout as Madison was overwhelmed by HRV, which had a huge edge offensively with 463 total yards to just 153 for the Senators. The Eagles scored twice in the final 2:46 of the second. Van Hoose threw a six-yard TD to Kurahara and a seven-yard TD to junior receiver Dallas Buckley (five catches, 60 yards receiving) to help the Eagles build a 26-0 halftime edge.
“It’s great seeing everyone playing with such a positive, enthusiastic and upbeat attitude,” said Van Hoose. “I think we’re capable of winning lots of games and having a winning record too. We just need to concentrate on making fewer fumbles and eliminating our mistakes and by doing that, then we’ll be a much better team. We can be a pretty dominating team if we just continue to execute well.”
The Eagles continued to overpower Madison in the third, starting the quarter with what proved to be their longest series of the game: the seven-play, 72-yard drive was capped by Van Hoose’s 22-yard pass to junior receiver Tyrone Stinzi and Ivan Castillo’s extra point made it 33-0 with 10:08 on the clock. Ostler, playing in his first varsity game, capped two third-quarter Eagle scoring drives with a pair of nine-yard TD runs to help HRV take a 46-0 advantage at the end of three.
“It felt good to get a win, because we lost last week against a team that really felt like we should’ve beaten,” said Ostler. “It feels good to come back and win 46-6 at home. I think we’re capable of having a pretty good season. Scoring a touchdown for the first time on the varsity level is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. It was one of the funnest and greatest things I’ve done in my athletic career.”
The win was notable for numerous reasons, most importantly because it snapped a seven-game Eagle losing streak over the last two seasons, which included the final six games from 2013. It marked HRV’s first home win since Oct. 26, 2012 (a 43-0 victory over The Dalles Wahtonka). HRV’s Sept. 12 win was its first in almost exactly one year, since its last victory was Sept. 13, 2013 (a 45-19 win over Redmond).
“Getting a big win like this in our first home game is huge, because it will help provide our team with lots of momentum at the beginning of the season,” said Van Hoose. “It’s really going to help provide us with lots of confidence heading into our next game. We really should’ve won last week against Woodburn (a 36-22 road loss Sept. 5), but we hurt ourselves by making too many mistakes and we gave them the win. We executed well and everyone played a good game to help us get the job done, which is what we should’ve done last week.”
Sperry said the team will be healthier Friday, with the return of injured starters Patrick Crompton and Forest Thompson to the lineup. He said, “Sebastian Barajas (injury), will also be back after missing this game, so we’ll have three guys back who will definitely help us out a lot. Everyone on our roster was able to play too and it was good having the backups and younger guys play the entire fourth quarter.”
Next, the Eagles will have a tough challenge Sept. 19 versus the Ridgeview Ravens (1-1), the 2013 Class 4A champions who moved up to 5A this year and are No. 11 in OSAA rankings. Ridgeview (13-1 last year) of the Intermountain Conference, lost 27-7 to the South Albany Rebels on Sept. 12. It’s the first ever meeting between HRV (ranked No. 23) and Ridgeview of Redmond, which opened a few years ago and began its football program in 2012. The game begins at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast by Mark Bailey on KIHR beginning with a 6:30 pregame show.