Photo by Ben Mitchell
HRV FOOTBALL had its best offensive effort this season, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Redmond Panthers, who knocked the Eagles out of the playoff hunt Friday with a 48-20 win. Senior defensive lineman Justin Wilson (No. 76) hunts down Redmond senior quarterback Bunker Parrish.
The HRV football team’s slim chance at obtaining a playoff berth was reduced to none over the weekend thanks to the Redmond Panthers, who pummeled the Eagles’ defensive line with an unstoppable ground attack that gave the former Intermountain Conference team a 48-20 victory during HRV’s homecoming game Friday night.
With the loss to the Panthers (3-3, 3-1 Special District 1), combined with Hermiston’s 54-0 shellacking of Ridgeview the same night, HRV (0-6, 0-4) is now mathematically eliminated from an appearance at the OSAA tournament next month. With three games left, Hermiston (3-3, 3-1) currently occupies the fourth and final playoff spot in SD1 and is uncatchable for HRV. Even in the unlikely scenario that HRV would win the next three games and Hermiston would lose the next three, Hermiston owns the tiebreaker with the Eagles, who are currently sitting in last place in the conference.
Redmond, currently sitting in third, exploited what was a porous HRV run defense Friday night, relying almost exclusively on its ground game. Of the 53 total offensive plays Redmond executed, 50 of them were rushing attempts. The Panthers racked up 410 yards on the ground in those 50 attempts (8.2 yards per carry) and scored five rushing touchdowns.
And though the Panthers didn’t often take to the air, they were effective in the passing game as well. Redmond’s senior quarterback Bunker Parrish connected on all three of his passing attempts, good for a total 83 yards. Two of those three passing attempts were touchdowns. All passes were 20 yards or longer.
Redmond put HRV in a 14-0 hole in the first quarter, first scoring on a 29-yard touchdown pass and then a 43-yard rush. The Eagles, however, made a game of it, marching 46 yards down in the field in a little over two minutes. The seven-play drive ended when HRV sophomore quarterback Caden Leiblein squeezed into the end zone on a one-yard rush to pull within a score of Redmond at the end of the quarter.
Leiblein had another solid performance Friday night, connecting on 14 of his 29 passing attempts for 178 yard and two touchdowns, as well as rushing for 41 yards on 14 attempts and one touchdown — one more attempt and six fewer yards than HRV lead back Michael Jones, who was scoreless against Redmond, but led in receiving with 66 yards on six catches. The young quarterback showed flashes of brilliance in the game, particularly at the end of the first half, when Leiblein, under pressure, rolled out of the pocket and connected with junior receiver Tanner Wells on a 15-yard touchdown pass with just five seconds remaining. With the score, HRV trailed 28-13 at the half.
In a season where HRV has struggled offensively — so much so that the Eagles are currently ranked last in 5A with 70 points scored through six games — Friday’s effort against Redmond was the best of the year for the Eagles in that category. But HRV couldn’t match the productivity of Redmond’s offense, as the Panthers went on to score three more times in the third quarter, putting the game out of reach for the Eagles. Leiblein connected on a five-yard pass with sophomore receiver Christian Zack midway through the third for the team’s only score of the half.
Now playing for pride, HRV will hit the road Friday to face former Columbia River Conference rival Pendleton (2-4, 1-3) at 7 p.m.