For its first game of the season, the HRV football team couldn’t have asked for much more.
The Eagles (1-0) hosted Woodburn (0-1) at Henderson Community Stadium on a cold and wet Friday evening, but failed to show them any of that famous Hood River hospitality, bullying the Bulldogs from the beginning to the end of the non-league game, which resulted in a decisive 54-12 victory for HRV.
Coach Caleb Sperry said he was “really happy” with how his athletes played and felt that the game displayed the wide variety of talent present on the HRV roster this season.
Passing: Dallas Buckley (14 for 26, 179 yard passing, 2 passing TDs, 55 yard rushing, 3 rushing TDs, 0 INT, 137.06 QB rating)
Rushing: Bruce Ostler (106 rushing yards, 1 TD, 7 carries, 15.1 YPC)
Receiving: Kellan Duffy (88 yards, 2 receptions, 44 YPR, 1 TD)
Kicking: Manny Valdovinos (3 for 6 on XPs)
Defense: Zak Ellsworth, Sam Fults (1 tackle for loss, 1 sack each)
“I think we have a lot of weapons this year,” he said. “A lot of guys touched the ball and did a lot of good things with the ball.”
The game was a revenge match of sorts for HRV, who had lost to the Bulldogs, 36-22, in Woodburn almost a year to the day of the two teams’ 2015 meeting. Sperry said HRV played poorly in last year’s contest — an outcome that he felt responsible for — and said the game “was personally on my mind,” as well as the minds of his players, who were determined to have a different result Friday night.
“They knew we didn’t play well either,” Sperry said. “They were excited to get out there and play.”
For a game that featured a prodigious amount of HRV offense (464 total yards to Woodburn’s 248), the Eagles struggled to find the end zone for the majority of the first quarter despite dominating ball possession and taking numerous trips into Woodburn territory. The lone score of the quarter came from sophomore running back Michael Jones, who galloped into the end zone on a 4-yard rush with a collection of Woodburn players clinging to his jersey for dear life, making it 6-0 with just over two minutes remaining.
“The first quarter was a little bit of first game jitters,” explained Sperry. “Guys were kind of nervous and we had penalties, but we just kept pushing and found some success.”
The second quarter was more of the same for the first few minutes until the Bulldogs fumbled on their own 1-yard line and HRV recovered. A successful QB sneak by starting quarterback Dallas Buckley resulted in a touchdown for the Eagles and the following 2-point conversion (rush by Jones), made it 14-0, HRV.
HRV was the beneficiary of Woodburn turnover again in the second quarter when senior defensive back Tyrone Stintzi picked off Bulldogs quarterback River Moss. On the next play, junior Bruce Ostler, who is listed as a wide receiver but functioned more as a running back in Friday’s game, ripped off a 36-yard run. After Woodburn was unable to score on its drive once again, HRV took over added another score on a pass from Buckley to Stintzi to put HRV up 27-0 at the half.
It took all of a minute for HRV to score in the third quarter thanks to an 18-yard rush by Buckley, but less than a minute and a half later, Woodburn capitalized on a sack that turned into a fumble by Buckley. The Bulldogs were finally able to stop the bleeding with a 4-yard touchdown run to get on the board with six points.
Their celebration was short-lived, however, as HRV marched down the field once again on a 55-yard, six-play drive that culminated in a 4-yard rushing TD by Buckley. The Eagles piled on at the end of the third quarter, again spinning a Woodburn turnover (fumble) into HRV offense gold, with Buckley having his most impressive throw of the night: a 55-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Kellan Duffy, who made an equally impressive over-the-shoulder catch to give HRV its largest lead of the night at 47-6.
Woodburn answered in the fourth quarter with a 62-yard touchdown pass, but it was far too little, too late. HRV got the last score thanks to a 1-yard rush by sophomore running back Jason Shaner that came at the end of a 15-play 65-yard drive.
In a night where so much went right for HRV, Sperry said there was still some room for improvement, noting that there were “a lot of dropped balls — if we want to be a passing team, we have to capitalize on that.” He added that the team needs to “continue to maintain blocks” as well as eliminate crack back blocks — a previously allowed hit that is no longer legal and resulted in multiple personal foul penalties levied against HRV.
Still, Sperry was pleased with his team’s performance both during the game and during practice earlier in the week, noting that “we want to win the game earlier in the week, not the night of the game.” That, and HRV’s physical talents helped the Eagles dominate on Friday.
“I think physically, we were better than Woodburn… and we were tenacious, we got up the field,” he said. “You mix those two together, and you got a recipe for what happened Friday.”
Next up: HRV travels to Portland on Friday to play Madison in another non-league matchup. The Eagles dominated the Senators in their meeting last year, which saw HRV come away with a 46-6 win. Sperry said Madison’s program has undergone some changes since then, including a new coach, and expects the Senators will be “coming after” HRV. “They kind of have a new breath of air, so it’s going to be a good challenge,” he said.
In other Columbia River Conference action, Pendleton, Hermiston and The Dalles all lost their games this past weekend. Pendleton lost to Summit (62-13), Hermiston lost to Hanford (41-20), and The Dalles lost to Molalla (32-20).