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  • Ednold

Crow 9/27/19

This week Mrs. Ednold and I spent our Friday night at Crow High School watching the Cougars take on the Alsea Wolverines. Crow is an unincorporated community situated in the rolling hills 13 miles west of Eugene that’s not much more than a wide spot in the Territorial Highway. It’s not in Eugene, but if you live here you have a Eugene address, which might come as a disappointment to James Andrew Jackson Crow and his wife Helen, immigrants who founded the community and helped build it to the point that it had its own post office in the 1870’s.

Crow is home to Applegate Elementary School, named for the same Jesse Applegate who figured prominently in our trip to Yoncalla. What later became, and is still known as, the Territorial Highway follows the general route of the western fork of Applegate’s trail through Lane County. Crow High School is down the road and around the corner maybe a mile southeast of the community of Crow on Crow Road. Crow are the Cougars, which I found confusing. I kept wanting to cheer for the Crows for some reason, but the people around us were kind enough not to point and laugh and by the end of the night I was catching on. There is plenty of parking on the school grounds on both the north and south sides of the school. Wherever you park, the well-beaten path will take you to the ticket table on the east side of the field where $4 got us each into the game with a program.

The playing field is natural grass surrounded by a gravel/dirt running track. Seating for the home fans is in a wooden grandstand on the west side that backs up onto a forest of fir trees from which I could totally imagine a real, live, hungry cougar emerging. There is a small set of aluminum bleachers on the east side for the visitors and, judging from the Alsea contingent, Crow may want to consider adding more visitors’ seating. There is a large concession stand to the south of the main grandstand. The cheeseburger basket, complete with full condiment bar and flame-broiled burger, was my dinner this night and is highly recommended. Mrs. Ednold recommends the hot dog with chili, though she ate the hot dog with a fork (?!) so I don’t know how much she's to be trusted. This all came with prompt and courteous service from the ladies at the concession stand, which was much appreciated. Restrooms can be found behind the visitors’ bleachers in a building near the main school buildings. The homecoming bonfire was lit outside the southeast corner of the field before the game began and burned throughout the game, giving a festive atmosphere to the whole scene.

The home (west) grandstand

Visitors' seating on the east side

This would be our first experience watching 6-man football. 6-man was common in Oregon’s smaller towns in the late 1940’s and 1950’s but then gave way to 8 and 11-man games. With the declining participation in football in recent years 6-man has been revived to help small schools keep their football teams from disappearing completely. 2018 was the first of a two-year trial program with one league east of the Cascades and one league on the west side. Schools with enrollment of fewer than 90 students are eligible, and both Crow and Alsea are examples of schools that would not be able to field a team if 6-man was not an option. Last year Crow competed in 8-man and won one game. Alsea players played on a combined Alsea/Philomath team last year, so 2019 is the first year for each school at the 6-man level. For this game, each squad only had 9 or 10 players suited up, so most of the players spent most of the game on the field.

Two seasons ago Crow had no football at all. For a few years, instead of homecoming week culminating in a football game, the students would rally for a powder-puff game, or skip the sport altogether and just gather at the bonfire site south of the field. All of which was probably fun, but I doubt it created the same level of interest from the community that we witnessed at this football game and if 6-man gives students a chance to experience the whole homecoming package then it’s a good thing. As it was, many cheerleaders and players and band members had to pull double-duty at halftime as members of the homecoming court. And, speaking of the band: Though they had about as many players as the football team, their director worked as hard as any of the coaches to add some Cougar spirit to the event and the atmosphere wouldn’t have been the same without them.

The parade floats created by each class and the crowning of the king and queen seemed to be the highlight of the evening for the relatively large crowd. Mrs. Ednold’s only concern, after seeing the amount of candy thrown to the crowd from the floats, was “I hope there’s a good dentist in this town”.

In addition to fewer players, there are a few other differences you’ll see when you watch a 6-man game: The field is 40 feet narrower than other football fields. Offenses need 15 yards to make a first down instead of ten (and it’s odd to see those 15 yard long chains). Every offensive player is an eligible receiver, and the player who receives the snap can’t cross the line of scrimmage. Quarters are 10 minutes.

For some reason I was expecting to see a lot of offense in this game but that’s not the way it turned out. Offenses for both teams consisted of 3 linemen, a quarterback and two running backs. Defenses were typically a 4-man line with 2 safety-backers (I just made that term up. What would YOU call a combination linebacker/defensive back?). So the offenses always had 3 men trying to block at least 4 opposing players. It takes a lot of quickness and trickery to gain any ground at all and many plays resulted in lost yardage. Also, it may have been different with two other teams, but passing was extremely rare in this game. With the snap-taker unable to cross the line of scrimmage, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t put your strongest and most agile athlete in that position, as many 11-man teams would. The Cougars only threw the ball a handful of times and two Alsea scores came as the result of interceptions returned for touchdowns.

I believe Alsea won the game 21-0 but at this point I’m not positive because early in the second half the scoreboard put on a show of its own, with random bulbs blinking and flashing sporadically for a few minutes before the whole board finally went dark. Time, and the score, was kept on the field after that so the rest of us had to try to keep track in our heads.

I half suspect that the referees themselves were only guessing at how much time was left. Especially after one of the Alsea players went down early in the fourth quarter. The injury occurred on the far sideline and was apparently serious enough that the player could not be moved. After perhaps twenty minutes an emergency vehicle arrived but they had no way to transport him off the field. Another twenty-five or thirty minutes passed before we finally saw the flashing lights of the ambulance making its way onto the track. They were eventually able to get the young man into the ambulance, and I can only hope he is on his way to a full recovery. But I hope someone in Crow is considering how to shorten emergency response times in similar situations in the future.

When the game finally resumed, by which time probably 80% of the crowd had left for home or post-game activities and a light drizzle had started to fall, I think the referees were as eager as everyone else to see the game end and get on the road. Play was finally stopped at what could have been a random point chosen by the lead official, the players shook hands, and we headed back home, having spent a nice night with the nice people of Crow.

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Marcella L. Gentry
Marcella L. Gentry
Sep 29, 2019

Great descriptions and explanations. Thanks, very fun reading!


Sep 28, 2019

Again you've made your ballgame watching really enjoyable for the rest of us. I had never heard of 6 man football! Thanks for explaining it. Your whole article was very enjoyable.......can/t tell you how many times I laughed out loud.

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