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  • Ednold

Perrydale 11/4/23

You may remember a few years ago when we attempted to attend a football game at Perrydale. For reasons that you can find in the archives (Central, March 2021), that didn't work out as we had planned, and reading that story again made me feel I may have been a little hard on the Pirates. The curse I put on the team caused them to go 1-4 during that Covid season, and the next season they went just 4-5. After I lifted the curse last season, they were able to record a 7-3 record, and this season they have been even better, coming into this game with a 7-2 record, good enough for third place in the 8-man 1A Special District 3.

As it was the first time we came, Perrydale is still little more than a crossroads located in the middle of Polk County farmland. Unlike the first time, there were heavy dark clouds hanging over the valley, and it looked like we might be in for a very soggy afternoon. But the sprinkles were still light as we took a left turn onto Bethel Road, and they had stopped completely by the time we reached the intersection with the Amity-Dallas Road where the school sits, one of a handful of buildings in the village. The K-12 school is the only school in the Perrydale district and, according to a sign outside the school, it has been around since 1879. Not in that same building, I would guess. The buildings have definitely been there awhile, but they don't look THAT old. But 144 years is still pretty impressive. Perrydale is an unincorporated community, but those kids between Dallas and Amity need a school, and it fills that need.

"You WILL cheer for Karson, right matey?"

The place is named after a guy named William Perry, whose nickname was probably not "The Fridge", since this was back in the 1800's. Another guy named McGrew bought Perry's land claim, platted the town on that land, and named it after William. It had its own post office by 1870, but it was closed down in 1971 and now places in Perrydale have Amity addresses.

We drove back behind the school building where we knew the small parking lot was, left The Bucket to its own devices, and followed the fence around to the south side of the field where the ladies at the ticket table were waiting for us under a pop-up shelter. There were a few moments of trepidation as we approached. Were either of them the one who had booted us from the school grounds 2½ years ago? Would they recognize me as the one responsible for their two seasons of near futility? I needn't have worried. They politely took the $10 each that the OSAA was charging this season for entry to playoff games, and stamped each of our hands. Hah! At last, we were inside, and they were none the wiser.

We scoped out the seating situation and chose a couple of seats in the west set of twin uncovered aluminum bleachers on the home side of the field. There is room for maybe 50 people in each set, with the press box/concession stand/restroom building between them. It's a unique set-up that probably works well on most days, but proved less than ideal on a wet Saturday in November. As we only found out after the game got going, most of the Perrydale crowd choose to bring their camp chairs and sit on the track in front of the bleachers, or just stand on the track without sitting at all. Which is fine until, to stay dry, they erect their own pop-up shelters, partially blocking the view of the field for everyone behind them. We soon found that we were sitting in the Eric's Family section, and the people around us couldn't have been nicer, so I know not everyone in Perrydale is thoughtless and inconsiderate, but it's clear there's work to be done in that area. The contingent over on the north side of the field who had made the journey all the way from Bonanza, in Klamath County, had their own small set of uncovered aluminum bleachers, which they did an admirable job of almost filling.

Bonanza had also placed third in their league, Special District 1, with a record of just 4-5. But the two teams that finished ahead of them were ranked #1 and #3 in the state, so the Antlers received a playoff invitation. They've never won a state championship in football, but the Perrydale Pirates have. The Pirates have played in four championship games, the last in 2011, and won their lone championship in 2004.

When the two teams took the field the natural grass turf was already saturated from the previous night's rain and that morning's light showers, and more showers during the first half kept it that way. But the field was playable early in the game, and the Pirates used the conditions to their advantage. After Bonanza opened the scoring with a long pass play, the Perrydale rushing attack took over the game and had opened up a 38-6 Pirate lead by halftime. In fact, they scored so often I had trouble finding a good time to get some lunch. Eventually, the smell of grilling hamburgers from the concession area made up my mind for me and I made my way down to where the grilling operation was set up outside the snack bar. $4 for a loaded burger and the money goes to support the Pirates? You won't get that deal at McDonald's.

As with many other 1A schools we've been to, there was no pep band or cheerleading squad at Perrydale. The homecomings and senior nights and flag football exhibitions and tiny cheerleaders are all part of the regular season, and you rarely find such entertainment during the playoffs. But there was more bark than bite in the huge grey clouds above, and two-way standout Eric's family and the others in our section proved good company in the bleachers as we waited for the return of the players to the field.

By the time they did, the field was almost a complete quagmire, and the muddy patches grew throughout the second half; the footing continued to deteriorate, and the ball became harder and harder to hold onto. It was hard to tell who was who, with the players' numbers having been blotted out by mud. But the Pirates are mudders, and their running game, mixed with a few well-timed throws, worked to extend their lead to 52-6 by the end of the third quarter. Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe together couldn't have stopped that Pirate offense. The Antlers did score a late touchdown to give them the distinction of having scored the first and last points of the game, but it was the 52 the Pirates put up in between that made the difference.

As the Pirate players left the field, the Pirate fans lined the edge of the track to proudly high-five their muddy hands as they went by, in what looked to be a long tradition at Perrydale field. And now the field gets the next 8 months or so to recover, but not so the Pirates. Perrydale must be one of the best-traveled teams in the state, having already made trips to Dufur, Pilot Rock, Lyle, WA, and Enterprise, and this win earned the Pirates an opportunity to travel almost to the California border to take on #1 ranked Lost River in the second round. The undefeated Lost River team has handled all of their opposition with ease, but they beat this same Bonanza team by a similar score of 49-6 a few weeks ago, which may suggest that the matchup of the Pirates vs. the Pirates just might be more competitive than many are expecting.

Okay, Perrydale, I just have one more bone to pick with you: Our world-record 50/50 raffle ticket losing streak continued at this game, and we are way overdue. We've bought hundreds of those things over the years, and never had our number come up. I don't blame the nice young lady who sold us the tickets, and the proceeds went to the Science Club, so it's not like we just threw the money away, but I just thought this might be our day. I guess you had other plans, but with that aside I have to admit you put on a good game. We had fun, and your team is pretty dang good. No more curses. I promise.

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