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Championships 11/30/19

What?? You thought the season was over?

Even as I was savoring the late Newcastle goal that cost Manchester City a Premier League win on Saturday morning, there were still 12 teams in Oregon with their dreams of a state championship still intact. But, with the exception of Central Catholic who puzzlingly play their home games in Hillsboro, none of those teams will be playing another game on their home field, so we decided to leave The Bucket in the driveway this holiday weekend and enjoy the excitement of Championship Saturday - five championship games in one day - all from the comfort of home.

It’s fitting that this Saturday was a cold one all across the state, because I woke up feeling like Snowman from Smokey and The Bandit. I was gonna do what they said can’t be done. Well, nobody actually said it or was probably even thinking it, but the challenge was there and I had to step up to it. Would it even be possible to take in five championship games in one day, all by myself, with no Bandit to run interference? After a full morning of Premier League soccer? With the Civil War game thrown into the middle of it? With both of the state’s top-ten womens basketball teams in action as well as the Iron Bowl, The Game, The Territorial Cup, The Sunshine Showdown, and too many other college games to mention? Could I do it while juggling enough of my honey-do list to keep Mrs. Ednold from throwing every electronic device in the house out the window? We would soon see.

Home bound and down, y’all!

There were two 6A games at Hillboro Stadium on Friday, where #4 Central Catholic beat #9 Barlow and #3 Lake Oswego beat #2 Jesuit. Those two winners will meet next weekend in Hillsboro for the championship. The championship games for the other five classifications took place on Saturday, and I was ready for all of them. A quest like this requires special preparation. I would need to be in top physical and mental condition. So, I began with a bowl of grits “all the way”. This is one recipe I can share since I stole it from The Waffle House: 1) make some grits 2) throw in a little of whatever else you happen to have handy. For me this morning that happened to be some scrambled eggs, jalapenos, onions, tomatoes, spam, and peppers. I ate while watching the wrap-up of the day’s soccer action. Arsenal weren’t playing til Sunday so I got to just relax and enjoy the highlights. I took a little time for a mini-workout to work out the kinks and get my booty ready for the long hours ahead. I wish I knew what Snowman had done to get ready to sit for a dozen hours at a time. I showered, cleaned up the kitchen enough to buy some grace from Mrs. Ednold, and settled in. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single football game.

To get the ball rolling, the Adrian/Jordan Valley Antelopes took on the defending champion St. Paul Buckaroos in the 1A title game. As the teams took the field it was a cold, clear morning at Hermiston High School. Both teams had identical 12-0 records. Interesting fact: Hermiston is 216 miles from St. Paul. It’s 217 miles from Adrian, so the two teams had to travel about the same distance for the game. The previous four 1A titles had been won by Dufur, but the last team to win before that was Adrian in 2014. Since then, Jordan Valley has joined forces with Adrian so that their athletes have a chance to play football. Jordan Valley rancher/Antelope assistant coach Bryce Kershner drives over an hour each way three times a week during the season to get himself and four high school football players to Adrian for practice. It seems to have paid off, as the Antelopes have crushed all opposition this season. But St. Paul has been just as dominant west of the mountains and it would be a matchup of two teams averaging over 60 points per game. It was indeed close throughout, with the teams going to halftime tied at 14. Which is when I had to break out my laptop and follow the 3A game over the internet. With my ears on my phone listening to the game from Hermiston, my eyes kept me up with the action from the 3A game in Roseburg. So far, so good. In Hermiston, it was St. Paul taking a four point lead into the final quarter. But they couldn’t hang on as the Antelopes used The Heave in Hermiston (as the announcers instantly dubbed it) to take their first lead with just over a minute left and held on to win 38-32.

Meanwhile, in Roseburg, both potent offenses found it hard to gain any consistent yardage and the #2 Santiam Christian Eagles went to halftime with a 14-7 lead over the Hidden Vallley Mustangs. At just about this time, with the 3A game at halftime and St. Paul having opened a ten point lead in Hermiston midway through the fourth quarter, the Civil War game began in Eugene. With one eye on the television, another on my computer and the other one on my radio (I’m a freak!) I did my best to follow the action in all three places at once. I just kept thinking about Snowman and how he had handled this type of pressure. But even he had an advantage that I didn’t have; he had his dog Fred with him. I don’t have a dog. I have a cat. And Shady’s critical stare isn’t helpful. Bite me, Shady. I don’t need your help. I can do this!

This would be Santiam Christian’s sixth title game, but they’ve only won one of the previous five. The offenses continued to struggle, and the Eagles still had their 7 point lead at the end of 3 quarters: 20-13. After that things got a little crazy. With the score tied and one minute on the clock and the Eagles on the one-yard line, the Mustangs allowed the Eagles to score rather than trying to defend so they could get the ball back with time to score themselves. They made a frantic effort over that last minute but came up short, giving the Eagles their second state title. Both teams scored 21 points in the final frenetic quarter to make the final score 41 -34.

While this wild ending was being played out there was another team of Mustangs, this one from Heppner, who had taken the field in Hermiston against the #1 and defending state champion Kennedy Trojans of Mt. Angel in the 2A game. Less than a minute into the game the #3 Mustangs had taken the lead, 6-0. But the two offenses who had each averaged about 50 points a game all season found the going tough in the frigid cold against defenses they weren’t used to facing, and that 6-0 score held into the fourth quarter. Heppner scored again to make it 12-0 midway through the fourth. The Trojans got on the board with less than a minute left but couldn’t recover an onside kick and Heppner had secured their third state championship.

Just as the 2A game was ending, the 5A game was starting in Roseburg. The Civil War had turned out to be predictably typical, but so far all three #1 teams had lost in the first three high school games. With the 5A game just getting under way, I realized I hadn't eaten lunch and I needed to take a few minutes to fortify myself for the final two games. I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies to hopefully appease Mrs. Ednold. Then I threw a couple of frozen burritos in the microwave for myself and ate my burritos and cookies, washing it all down with a bottle of discount brown ale. Don’t judge me. Snowman would have approved, and if you haven’t been on a mission like this you just don’t know. Only those who dare to attempt a monumental task can truly know what they would do in that moment.

In the second quarter of a 7-7 tie in Roseburg the rain started to fall on an already frigid 5A game, limiting the usual effectiveness of the powerful offenses of both the Thurston Colts of Springfield and the Crater Comets of Central Point. By the time the Comets took a 10-7 lead to halftime, the 4A game was getting started on the frozen tundra of 27-degree Hermiston. The La Grande Tigers won their final three playoff games by an aggregate score of 103-0. That’s dominance. But they were playing the #1 ranked defending champion Banks Braves, who also came in undefeated. Thurston managed a touchdown toward the end of the third quarter and that proved to be the end of the scoring in Roseburg as the Colts went on to win 14-10 and were celebrating a repeat as state 5A champions as La Grande and Banks were headed to their halftime break with La Grande up 7-0.

I had almost reached the summit. Here I was, 18 quarters of football down, two more to go. I could see the end. I could smell it. Or maybe that was just me having sat in my chair the whole day. So I decided to change things up. In solidarity with those frozen players in Hermiston I went outside to listen to the final half of the 4A game. I was down to needing just one device now so I took my phone outside, lit a fire in the fire pit, and had another beer as the La Grande Tigers went on to a 21-0 shutout of the Braves, making Thurston the only one of five #1 teams to win their game. It was closer than the final score, but the opportunistic Tigers had won their first championship since 1974.

I had done it. Just as Snowman had persevered to get that load of Coors back to Atlanta, I had followed all five championship games in one day so that I could do what they said couldn’t be done. Yes, a few hundred young men are celebrating the ultimate culmination of a season of hard work. But did any of them accomplish what I did on this day? I'll let you all answer that.

South Wasco County - that's all of them

One final note: Although there is no official 6-man state champion, the two 6-man leagues get together at the end of the season and play an unofficial tournament, which this year was won by South Wasco County High School of Maupin. I hope South Wasco enjoyed their short reign because I am hereby unofficially annulling their title. Let me explain: South Wasco are the Redsides. For those of you who know even less about fish than I do, which I’m pretty sure is impossible, a Redside is a type of trout common to the Deschutes River. As you can see, the Redsides’ uniforms are green and gold. This is not right. One of the stringent Ednold rules of proper sportsmanship states that if you have a color in your name your team colors must include that color. Imagine the Blue Devils in red uniforms, or the Crimson Tide wearing blue. Don’t think I haven’t noticed you too, Bowling Green State University, in your orange uniforms. It’s just wrong. I congratulate the Redsides on a great season and hope that someone in Wasco County comes to their senses and changes their school colors soon.


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4 comentarios

Gil Stewart
Gil Stewart
03 dic 2019

I forgot............I hope you have a way to save the email addresses you can use next year to alert your many fans of your return.

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Gil Stewart
Gil Stewart
03 dic 2019

Well done, Ednold. This was an appropriate way to end the season. All the champs got to take a bow. I'm not sure how your color coding ideas will fly, but it's worth a mention. Now that you've set the bar pretty darn high, we'll be waiting to see what next season brings. Good job.

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Gil Stewart
Gil Stewart
03 dic 2019

Wow! I thought you were done for the season. This is an added bonus. I'm still trying to figure out how you managed to keep up with all of them. That was a real feat! Thanks, Ednold for give us a chuckle every week.

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02 dic 2019

Yes! I did think the season was over-at least your reporting about it &, I must say, I’m going to miss your articles.

You did a yeoman’s job yesterday keeping up with all the culminating excitement from around Oregon- congratulations & thank you!

I appreciate you including a map of where the teams are located. Many Oregonians are not aware of how geographically diverse we are & the extreme efforts student-athletes (& parents, coaches, cheerleaders, fans) in Eastern Oregon must make to perform at high levels.

Also, I TOTALLY agree with you about colors of uniforms being consistent with the color in the name of the mascot:).

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