The Hood River Valley Eagles played their best football game of the season Friday against the Ridgeview Ravens in their Special District 1 opener Friday in Redmond. The Eagles (0-1 SD1, 0-3 overall) had several chances to win near the end of the contest, but just fell a little short, losing 12-6 in overtime to the No. 19 Ravens (1-0 SD1, 1-2).
The Eagles, guided by Head Coach Caleb Sperry, will try to get their first win of the season when they meet the No. 6 Bend Lava Bears (1-0 SD1, 3-0) in a 7 p.m. contest at Henderson Community Stadium this Friday. The game marks the kickoff of the Hood River Valley High School Athletic Hall of Fame weekend celebration and will include a halftime ceremony honoring past local athletes.
“It was a very exciting game and it was close all the way,” said Sperry. “The kids played hard and we had a chance to win at the end of the game. Unfortunately, we just didn’t do quite what we needed to do to get the win. With their type of offense, Ridgeview is primarily a running team and we played tough defense and held them to under 100 yards rushing (97 total), so that was pretty cool.”
The Eagles played a very competitive and strong game against the Ravens in what was a defensive battle from start to finish. Ridgeview went on top 6-0 in the first quarter, scoring on a 20-yard rushing touchdown, then went scoreless in the second and third quarters as both squads continued playing solid defense.
HRV gained some momentum when they knotted the contest in the fourth quarter. HRV junior receiver Patrick Estes caught a six-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Caden Leiblein (20-for-39, 154 yards passing) making it 6-6 with 9:26 left in the game. The point after touchdown was blocked, though, as the game remained deadlocked.
Nevertheless, the Eagles were hoping to pull out the win and they nearly did it too, with three potential scoring opportunities late in the contest. An HRV offensive possession stalled at the Ridgeview six-yard line when a costly Eagle fumble gave the Ravens possession with 3:32 left in the game.
The Eagles continued playing strong defense and forced Ridgeview to punt on its ensuing possession. The Eagles regained possession with 55 seconds left at the Ridgeview 48-yard line, following a seven-yard punt return by junior Tanner Wells. A four-play drive, highlighted by an 18-yard pass from Leiblein to junior Trenton Hough put the Eagles in scoring position at the Ridgeview six-yard line with 15 seconds left.
The Eagles were unable to move the ball closer to the end zone, though, as time was running out on the clock. HRV sophomore placekicker Manuel Trejo then attempted a 24-yard field goal with 6.6 seconds left, but the kick was wide right of the goalpost by just a foot and the game went into overtime.
HRV had the initial possession in overtime at the 25-yard line, but the Eagles were unable to gain a first down on a controversial play. Sophomore running back Bailey Holste appeared to gain a first down at the 15-yard line, but the officials spotted the ball short. After an HRV delay of game five-yard penalty, the Eagles then were unable to convert a crucial fourth-down play. Ridgeview then scored on its possession with a 26-yard touchdown pass to pull out the overtime thriller.
The Eagles outgained the Ravens in total yards 291 to 219 even though the Eagles were shorthanded because of injuries to starting running back/defensive back Michael Jones (ankle), wide receiver/ defensive lineman Connor Coeper (ankle) and wide receiver/linebacker Dylan Peterson (concussion).
The players might be able to return to action on Friday if they’ve recovered from their injuries, but their status for the game was still uncertain as of press time.
In other SD 1 games, Bend, Summit, and Hermiston all won their opening contests, while Mountain View, Redmond, and Pendleton lost theirs.