The growing pains for HRV’s young football team continued Friday night as the Eagles were on the wrong end of another lopsided game, this time against Reynolds High.
The depth of the 6A school quickly became apparent to the Eagles (0-2) as the Raiders (2-0) used their effective ground attack to roll out to a 37-0 lead late in the second quarter, essentially putting the game out of reach for HRV, who were routed 65-13 on the road.
“They were bigger and more physical than we were,” said HRV Head Coach Caleb Sperry. “They were able to get a lead and run the ball all night.”
Reynolds’ rushers broke through Eagles defenders time and time again, amassing 414 yards on the ground in 40 rushing attempts that produced seven touchdowns. The Raiders’ ground game was so effective that they rarely went to the air, only attempting 15 passes (12 of which were completed) and tallying two passing touchdowns.
HRV’s own ground game was hampered due to star running back Michael Jones going down with an ankle injury in the first quarter. As of Monday morning, Sperry did not have a prognosis as to the severity of the injury, nor a timetable for the junior’s return.
One of the brighter spots in the game was Caden Leiblein’s performance at quarterback. The sophomore threw a 51-yard strike to his classmate, receiver Brandon Rivera, to get HRV on the board a couple minutes before the half and then connected with junior receiver Patrick Estes on a four-yard touchdown that was the final score of the game. Leiblein went 12-for-33, totaled 145 passing yards, and had no interceptions.
“He played great,” Sperry said of Leiblein. “It was a game filled with a lot of adversity and he did a good job of playing through the storm… he keeps progressing every week; we are pretty happy with his performance.”
Other Eagles also rose to the occasion as some of the two-way players went down with injuries, forcing other players to fill their spots and play out of position. Sperry noted that a number of players never came off the field and “just kept competing,” despite the scoreboard and for a young team, the game against Reynolds provided many teachable moments.
“I gotta believe in some facet that will only help us in the future… I think there’s a lot of good that you can take from it. Nobody likes getting beat like that, but you have to reassess and see where you can improve and continue to go.”
With nonleague games out of the way, HRV will now start its Special District 1 schedule with a game at Ridgeview on Friday at 7 p.m. Columbia River Conference schools HRV, Hermiston, and Pendleton joined Intermountain Conference schools to form the new league after The Dalles switched to independent status in the offseason to help rebuild its program. Playing against some of those larger Central Oregon schools, particularly defending 5A champions Summit, could prove to be a challenge.
“We have a tough schedule; it’s a tough league, but I think we have guys who love football and have a good mentality,” Sperry said.