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  • Ednold

Ridgeview 10/6/23

So far this season we had been very fortunate in having perfect weather for each of our football games. It’s rained enough this season to help control the forest fires, but we’ve had nothing to complain about when gameday rolls around. We knew that couldn’t last forever, though, and I’d figured our first October game would probably be the one where it all caught up to us. But our luck held out for another week and, though it had rained sporadically during the week, Friday was dry, clear, and warm, as we headed over the mountains in the afternoon on our way toward Redmond. There were no forest fires along the Santiam Pass, but the bright orange and red of some of the foliage on view had us fooled a few times. The football game later that evening would be played at Ridgeview High School on the southern edge of Redmond, but we had other business to attend to before then, so we kept on east past Powell Butte to Prineville Reservoir.

The game, between the Ridgeview Ravens and the Caldera Wolfpack, would only be the highlight of a busy weekend in Central Oregon. My siblings and I had decided to enter a relay race that began early the next morning, and much too soon after the game was over I would need to be at the starting line to walk the highway for several miles along the Crooked River. In preparation, Mrs. Ednold and I had volunteered to drive the course so we’d have an idea what we were in for the following day.

The unstated purpose of our mission was to report back that it would all be a big piece of cake, and that our fears of being forced from the course due to lack of speed, cardiac emergency, general fatigue, or some combination thereof had all been completely unjustified. My actual reaction to seeing the course was to credit the guy who named the river for doing such a fantastic job. He nailed it, although he forgot to mention anything about the elevation changes of the road running beside it that would be the source of considerable pain in my thighs within a matter of hours. We scouted out the exchange areas for the relay handoffs, made note of possible rest stops along the way, and felt the vicarious pain in advance for the other members of the team that would be walking each particular leg of the route, then our job was done.

And not a minute too soon, at that. Mrs. Ednold was scheduled to meet two of the siblings at the airport, and I had just enough time to drop her off on my way to the game. So, yes, once again I would be doing the strenuous work of watching a football game all by myself. But at least Redmond built their newest high school a conveniently short journey from the airport: Airport Way intersects with Canal Blvd at a traffic circle just west of Highway 97, and from there it was just another minute or two before I was looking for the perfect spot for The Bucket in one of the several parking lots that literally surround Ridgeview High. And I guess this is the place to mention my observation, which I’ve made many times, that Central Oregon really loves their traffic circles. I’m not always a fan, since some towns that shall remain unnamed put them in places where they don’t really belong. Redmond seems to have gotten it right, though, and this particular circle expedited my short jaunt to see the Ravens.

Ridgeview High School opened in 2012 as the second high school in the town of Redmond. They’ve only been open for eleven years, but they won a 4A state championship in 2013, just their second season ever. The following year they moved to the 5A classification and have had only one winning season since, finishing 8-3 in 2021. Last year they finished 2-7 and were 1-4 this season after losing to Summit last week 63-0. Their opponents, Caldera High School of Bend, came in at 3-2, but two of those wins had come against 4A competition and they’d been thumped 36-3 by Mountain View last weekend, so this shaped up to be a pretty competitive contest. Both schools compete in the 5A Intermountain Conference, made up of the two Redmond schools and four Bend schools.

I already covered the history of Redmond last season when we attended a Redmond High game, so I won’t get into all that again except to reiterate that the town’s population has exploded over the past 30 years and it’s now five times the size it was back then, hence the need for a second high school. At the rate it’s going, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another school open on the north side of town in the next few years. The Ridgeview school building is big, but compact, and it doesn’t look like it’s been around for over ten years. It’s retained that new-school look, which probably takes more work than you would think. The field is situated just west of the school, and I left The Bucket in the south lot and followed the crowd to the entrance at the southeast corner of the field. I stopped at the ticket booth to give the young man my $6 in exchange for a ticket, then walked to the gate where the lady took my ticket in exchange for a fluorescent purple… tree? candy cane? walking stick?... stamp on my right hand. And speaking of purple: I never attended a Prince concert, but now I think I have some idea what that must have been like. Ridgeview fans wear a lot of purple Ridgeview gear, and even those who don’t have the gear have other purple shirts, jackets, hats, and shoes.

The field is named in honor of Reece Rollins, an All-State tight end and member of that championship team from 2013, who died in 2018. It’s a natural grass surface surrounded by a running track, which was itself surrounded by a mobile but sturdy fence. The concessions and restrooms are just inside the entry on the southeast side of the field, which runs northwest to southeast. I assume the school takes its name from the spectacular panoramic vista of the Cascade Mountains from the campus. I watched the first quarter of action from the home stands, facing northeast, and appreciated not having to look into the sun on a bright, clear night, but the chance to watch the sun dip below that horizon during the second quarter was enough to get me out of my seat to observe it from the visitors’ side of the field among the large crowd overflowing the much smaller aluminum bleachers on their side.

I had taken a seat in the middle of the big, uncovered aluminum grandstands, with the band, cheerleaders and students to my far left and the rest of Raven Nation all around me, probably wondering who the dork was not dressed in purple. It made me self-conscious enough to look around and notice that many of the students weren’t wearing purple either. It must have been some kind of patriot night or something, because most of them were decked out in red, white and blue, and the cheerleaders were wearing red shirts. There was no visible explanation, and I never did find out exactly what that was all about. The band was loud, though, as were the cheerleaders, so the perplexing color choices didn’t seem to have any negative effects on their performance. I did occasionally get a glimpse of the Raven mascot in his appropriate all-black outfit, but he or she didn’t appear too active, and fortunately didn’t make any annoying raven noises, at least that I was able to hear.

When the Ravens had entered the field beneath a giant inflatable raven and the action began, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be one of those blowouts that we’d seen so often this season. The teams were fairly evenly matched, with Ridgeview taking an 8-6 lead early in the second quarter, only for Caldera to answer back and take an 8-14 lead into halftime. Both teams had athletes who could run and throw well, but both also had defenses good enough to slow the advance of the opposing offense.

As the two teams headed to their respective locker rooms to plan for the second half, dozens of children congregated on the edge of the field for their own turn in the spotlight. Then the varsity cheerleaders did a short dance routine before summoning their group of junior cheerleaders to join them on the field. I’ve seen this probably twenty times now, but it’s still fun to watch four-and-five- year-olds flailing around, a beat or two behind their mentors. And as if that weren’t enough, they were soon followed by the introduction of the junior football players, who appeared to be in the 4-6 grade age range. After being introduced they were given free run of the field for the next ten minutes or so, and chaos ensued as several games of what could, politically correctly, be called “tackle the peculiar person with the ball” broke out simultaneously. That alone was worth my $6.

Somehow watching that action had given me an appetite, and I knew that I’d need to load up on some carbs for the race that was coming up in… Holy crap!! I needed to wake up in 6 hours! Ridgeview had thoughtfully hired the sno-cone truck to sit beside the field, and they did a booming business throughout the game, but I was looking for something slightly more substantial, so I got in the back of quite a long line for my popcorn and coffee, and the next thing I knew I was walking away with one in one hand and one in the other. That concession stand had been fully staffed with a crew that moved like clockwork. If their football team operated with as much precision they would be undefeated. Neither the popcorn or coffee were anything special, but if you order popcorn and coffee are you really expecting something special?

Despite whatever wisdom had been imparted at halftime, the defenses continued to dominate in the second half. Caldera was able to add another touchdown near the end of the third quarter, making the score 8-21, but neither team could add to their total after that, and the Wolfpack went home to Bend with a 13-point victory. Big plays had been hard to come by, but Caldera had made a few more than Ridgeview, and that had been the difference.

I had done my best, along with several hundred other people, to root the Ravens on, and as The Bucket and I left Redmond and headed for Brasada Ranch I wondered how many of those people would be waiting along the relay route to cheer as loudly for me as I made my way in the dark along the Crooked River in just a few short hours. I tried to convince The Bucket that it was possible that some of them would show up in their purple outfits, loudly showing their support, but I could tell by his silence he wasn't really buying it. He was right, as always.

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