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  • Ednold

Camas Valley 11/16/19

Updated: Nov 17, 2019

This week we exited the interstate and drove through Winston, which brought back memories of waking up in my parents’ house to the sounds of the roaring lions from the safari park just over the hill. That was pretty cool, but Winston wasn’t our destination this time. On a practically tropical 61 degree mid-November Saturday we were headed to Camas Valley, home of the six-time state champion Hornets, to watch a state quarterfinal game of 8-man football.

The Hornets are the champions of the Western Division of 1A Special District 2. They came into this game undefeated this season at 8-0, averaging 64 points a game and having outscored their opposition by a whopping 392 points. Yet three teams (St. Paul, Adrian/Jordan Valley, and Crane) were still ranked ahead of them so they may have still felt they had something to prove, at least to the people at OSAA doing the ranking. They would be taking on the Powder Valley Badgers of North Powder, owners of a 7-3 record who, after finishing fourth in the Eastern Division of 1A Special District 3, squeaked into the playoffs where they notched a stunning 68-62 victory over #5 Lowell in the first round. They would be looking for another big upset to keep their season alive.

The unincorporated community of Camas Valley is really just a loose collection of residences west of the Camas Mountain summit, which puts it on the east side of the valley it takes its name from, which slopes down to the middle fork of the Coquille River. Camas Valley is quite a distance from any city of significant population, a ways off the freeway up in the hills southwest of Roseburg. I’m tempted to say it’s remote, but it’s not. In fact, you have to travel another 16 miles down Highway 42 to get to Remote. The valley and mountain get their name from the camas flowers that were once abundant in the area and the bulbs of which were a staple of native and pioneer diets. We didn’t notice any on our little trip but I can’t say I would know one if I saw it.

Camas Valley is a K-12 charter school and the only school in the Camas Valley School District. A right turn from the highway onto Main Camas Rd. will take you past the main school building. There is parking outside the building or you can choose, as most do, to continue on to a driveway beyond the school that takes you to a ticket gate. Pay from your car, pick up your program from the nice lady at the gate, and follow the drive right up to the edge of the running track surrounding the field if you want.

We left ourselves plenty of time to park The Bucket behind the grandstands and walk over and grab pre-game brunch at the Bravo Bakery & Café just around the corner from the school. I was attracted by the fact that the only neon letters lit on the sign outside spelled "ant". Surely some kind of hidden message that I needed to decode. That, and the fact that it appears to be the only place to eat within miles. After a careful perusal of the menu I ordered something called The Cure. Was this because I liked the ingredients? (onions, peppers, sausage, eggs, cheese and I’m not sure what else). Not really. I don't know how my mind works sometimes but it just reminded me of the newly-inducted Hall of Fame band of the same name. Their leader, Robert Smith, at one time had THE greatest hair in the world. He and his hair have not aged well but, DANG! that was some amazing hair. And my meal turned out to be a fitting choice: The Cure was Just Like Heaven. Now go listen to that song so we can all have that same tune stuck in our heads for the next week. On top of that, it did end up curing the one disorder I had been complaining of – an empty stomach. Someday when I have a more serious ailment I’ll have to stop in and see what else it works on. The hidden meaning of "ant" remains mysterious.

The Cure taken (and Mrs. Ednold’s pancakes not quite gone), we made the return trip across to the school and picked out a couple of seats in the small wooden grandstands. We would soon find out that we were in close proximity to relatives of the Hunt boys, standouts for the Hornets whose relatives were loud and enthusiastic and recruited us into their cheering section. The stands themselves are covered, with comfortable wooden seating. Across to the north are a couple of smaller aluminum sets of bleachers for the visitors. A concession booth is located just to the east of the main grandstands. Even after The Cure I couldn’t resist trying the Frito Pie. It looks even nastier but tastes much better than you are imagining right now.

The home (south) grandstand

The visitors' (north) bleachers

As the game wore on it became apparent that most of the home fans skip the grandstands in favor of camp chairs parked at the edge of the field or just viewing upright from the gravel/sand track and walking back and forth depending on where the action is on the field, mingling with friends and neighbors. We noticed a few spectators watching from the comfort of their parked cars. Since the stands may hold about 200 people and there were probably two or three times that many in attendance it was good that Hornet fans have found a way to make it work for them. There are no lights at the field so all home games are Saturday daylight happenings, which seems to make for a more family-friendly, community-get-together feeling. I don’t know what the official, or unofficial for that matter, population of Camas Valley is but there couldn’t have been too much else being accomplished in the surrounding countryside; everyone, it seemed, was at the game.

The backdrop for a game at Camas Valley is stunningly beautiful. The hills rise in the west and the forest closes in around the northeast end of the field. These surroundings only help make the football field on game day an ideal gathering place for the community. But that community apparently doesn’t include cheerleaders or a band, which were both conspicuously missing. But again, they make it work and I feel now that the presence of those things may have detracted from the experience in some way: We wouldn’t have gotten the impromptu cheerleading from random members of the crowd, we may have missed some of the PA announcer’s jokes (one complaint: when the Hornets gang-tackled an opponent he would refer to the tacklers as a “host” of Hornets. It should be a “swarm” of Hornets right? RIGHT?) and it might have interfered with the Country Fair atmosphere of the whole event.

It would have been fun to be there even without a game. But there was a game, and it was a good one. The Badgers fought their way back from a 28-14 halftime deficit to tie the game at 28 just after the start of the fourth quarter. But that only worked to ignite the Hornet offense and Camas Valley went on to win 48-36 to set up a showdown with #1 St. Paul next week in the semi-finals.

Game over, on our way back to the freeway we saw the signs for Lookingglass. Could I just drive on and pretend I didn't see them? No way. So it was that, at just about brillig on a Saturday afternoon, we passed through Lookingglass where, Alice will attest, everything is backward and logic ceases to apply. In many ways I feel I have spent most of my life there. If the folks in Lookingglass only knew how much time I have spent trying to make sense out of nonsense they would make me the Mayor, or at least an honorary permanent resident. These philosophical features notwithstanding, Lookingglass seems like a very pleasant little village in the middle of Douglas County wine country, with its own elementary school and fire station and a beautifully aged old store with benches on the porch and a phone booth outside. The booth has no phone but I guess if you just need a little privacy you can break out your smart phone and stand in it.

Camas Valley is a wonderful place to watch a high school football game, especially on a day like we had. The people were welcoming, the food was great, the football was exciting and the setting was fantastic. If it were just a few hours closer to home it would be just about perfect. Then again, if it wasn't where it is it wouldn't be what it is, would it?

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Nov 17, 2019

Ednold, thank you for educating us about Camas Valley and surrounding area. Even though we lived in Winston Dillard I don't think we ventured that direction. Wish we had, it sounds like a neat place. I just can't get over how every school, large or small, has determined to have a football team and the fact that there are enough classifications for them to have one. Without your blog, I'd never have known. I guess I always knew you had a sense of humor but your blog really emphasized it. What will we do when football season is over?


Nov 17, 2019

An absolute winner! The dialogue and photos fit together seamlessly, depicting small-town football at its best. It reminded me of the time my Corvallis Fire Suppression team traveled to Camas Valley to play their Fire team, the only other one in the state, in a softball game. Sadly, we lost.

Finally, when I was Bus Mgr at Winston-Dillard SD, Lookingglass Elem was one of our schools. Had I known you might have been there I'd have looked you up.

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