Utilizing an explosive offense and a suffocating defense, the No. 15-ranked Hood River Valley High Eagles (2-0) overwhelmed the Madison Senators (0-2) 46-20 in a 5A nonleague game Friday at Portland’s Madison High School. For a second straight week, the high-flying Eagles recorded a dominating victory, which followed a 54-12 season opening home win Sept. 4 over Woodburn.
The Eagles, guided by coach Caleb Sperry, jumped in front 18-0 and remained in control all the way, while leading from start-to-finish. Sophomore running back Michael Jones (22 carries, 128 yards rushing) ran for four touchdowns and senior quarterback Dallas Buckley (18-for-27 passing, 234 yards) threw two touchdowns to help lead the Eagles to the win. The Eagles offense has produced an impressive total of 100 points and they’re one of just five 5A teams to score 100 or more points in their first two games.
It was another bad week for Hood River’s Columbia River Conference opponents, with two out of the three teams losing their games. Hermiston (0-2) got blown out by Kamiakin (Wash.) by a score of 54-6. The Dalles (0-2) had a rough go of it against Fort Vancouver (Wash.), losing 34-20. The Pendleton Buckaroos (1-1), however, beat Ontario 27-13. This week, Pendleton is at La Grande, Hermiston is at Springfield, and The Dalles is at McLoughlin/Griswold.
“Our offensive coordinator, Bruce Burton, has done a tremendous job of creating a scheme that takes advantage of all the offensive talent that we have on our team,” said Sperry. “It’s exciting to see that we have lots of players with the ability to make explosive scoring plays, which really provides us with a pretty amazing offense.”
The Eagles jumped in front 6-0 after a 10-play, 44-yard drive was capped by a Jones one-yard TD run with 6:45 left in the first quarter. Hood River then doubled the margin with their longest scoring drive of the game. An eight-play, 93-yard drive, highlighted by a 25-yard Jones TD scramble, made it 12-0 with 1:59 on the clock.
The Eagles offense was definitely firing on all cylinders and they hit paydirt again just 43 seconds later. Buckley (19 carries, 90 yards rushing) capped a two-play, 30-yard drive with a 22-yard TD run, giving the Eagles an 18-0 advantage with 1:16 left in the opening quarter.
Up 18-0 after one, it appeared an HRV rout was likely, especially considering the results of last year’s matchup between the two squads (a 46-6 Eagle win). The Senators, of the 6A Portland Interscholastic League, were determined to take a different course of action though and they answered with a scoring drive just 13 seconds into the second quarter, making it 18-7 with 11:47 on the clock.
“Our mindset in every game is to compete to the best of our ability and to execute as best as we can,” said Sperry. “The focus is not really on our opponent, but on how well we control the ball and by avoiding turnovers and penalties. We did lots of good things, but there’s some areas that we need to improve on. There were a few drives that stalled and I think we could’ve done a better job in some key situations like that. Overall, at this point of the season, I think we’re doing pretty well though.”
HRV responded with consecutive scores to extend its advantage. A five-play, 65-yard drive was capped by a 35-yard TD pass from Buckley to Jones (four catches, 61 yards receiving) to make it 24-7. That was followed by a six-play, 40-yard drive, ending with a five-yard TD pass from Buckley to senior receiver Kiel Sorenson (two catches, 19 yards receiving). A two-point conversion run by Jones made it 32-7 with 4:49 remaining in the quarter. The Senators came back with a quick score, trimming the margin to 32-14 at halftime.
In a low-scoring third quarter, Madison added a touchdown to narrow the margin to 32-20. Led by Jones, Buckley, and sophomore receiver Connor Coerper (seven catches, 113 yards receiving), the Eagles regained their momentum and pulled away on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.
“We let the game get a little closer than it should’ve been in the third quarter, when we allowed (Madison) to have a scoring drive,” said Sperry. “That kind of put some pressure on us and it provided Madison with a chance to possibly come back and it helped motivate them to try and stay in the game. They seemed to have a little more momentum than us in the third quarter.”
A seven-play, 53-yard possession was capped by a four-yard touchdown run by Jones for a 38-20 Eagle lead with 10:32 left in the game. A seven-play, 83-yard drive culminated in another Jones score with his one-yard TD run. Buckley’s two-point conversion run made it 46-20 with 1:50 remaining in the game.
The Eagles outgained the Senators in total offense 500 yards to 253. HRV had a balanced attack with 266 yards rushing and 234 passing. Sorenson led HRV’s special teams with three kickoff returns for a total of 80 yards. Junior running back Bruce Ostler had 11 carries for 50 yards rushing. Senior receiver Tyrone Stintzi grabbed three passes for 33 yards receiving.
The victory marks the Eagles’ best start since they began the 2012 season 2-0. HRV will look to extend its win streak when they host the No. 24-ranked Ridgeview Ravens (1-1) Friday at 7 p.m. at Henderson Community Stadium. The Eagles will be seeking revenge against Ridgeview and have an opposite outcome of a matchup between the two teams in Redmond a year ago (a 61-51 Ravens win). Ridgeview will be hoping to bounce back from a 35-20 loss to South Albany in their last game.
“We’re really looking forward to playing Ridgeview,” said Sperry. “We’re excited about the challenge, because it represents another opportunity for us to get a win and help us reach our goals that we’ve set this year. Our goals include winning these early-season games and winning the Columbia River Conference championship. I’m pretty excited too, because I think we have a good chance of doing that.”