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  • Ednold

Siletz 3/6/21

Are you ready for some football? I was! Finally, a mere 65 weeks to the day after the final game of the 2019 season, I had the chance to attend another high school football game. Whoever is in charge of this stuff decided that Oregon high schools could finally begin the 2020 football season and this weekend was week one. Of course, any football season that starts in March isn’t going to look or feel like a real football season, and in lots of ways it’s not a real season at all. But they played, so I went. That’s what Ednold does. And it was still fun.

This weekend we made our way to the town of Siletz to watch the Warriors take on a non-league opponent, the Eddyville Eagles. Siletz Valley is part of the Lincoln County public school system, but it’s also known, somewhat pretentiously, as the Siletz Valley Early College Academy. It’s a k-12 charter school started in 2006 that is funded by the Chinook Winds Casino. I’m not a gambler myself, but for those of you who have ever lost money at Chinook Winds, you can feel good knowing it’s going to a good cause. And if you’ve ever won there, how does it feel to have taken that money out of the pockets of school children? You should be ashamed.

The Warriors compete in the northern division of 1A Special District 1, In 2019 the Warriors lost their first four games of the season before turning things around and winning their final three to sneak into the playoffs, where they were spanked in the first round 48-0 by North Douglas. Their opponents, Eddyville, went 2-5 in 2019, so both teams have room for improvement.

The town of Siletz is located in the coast range about 7 miles north of Toledo off of Highway 20, and about the same distance from the coast as the crow flies. It bills itself as the Fisherman’s Paradise. I’m no fisherman so I really can’t say if that’s true or not, but as a non-fisherman my ideas of paradise usually include a white sand beach and palm trees, neither of which I noticed in Siletz. Fishermen must have a different idea of paradise than I do. But still, Siletz is a nice little town of just over a thousand people up in the hills not far from Newport. There’s lots of timber in the area but from the looks of things the biggest economic influence in the town is the headquarters of the Siletz reservation, which lies adjacent to the town to the east. The headquarters complex is conspicuously large, and attractive and modern, which most of the rest of the town is not. But Siletz does have that gritty charm that you see in similar small towns all over the state. One of the best displays of that charm is the Siletz Roadhouse on Gaither Street in the middle of town next to the school. There aren’t a lot of dining options in town, so when Mrs. Ednold and I found ourselves with time for a pregame meal, that’s where we went. They were even open for indoor seating so, for the first time in over a year, we sat inside to order and eat our meal. It was all good, but the french fries… I would seriously consider driving back to Siletz just for some Roadhouse french fries. They are that good.

From the amount of backseat driving that Mrs. Ednold does from her shotgun seat, you’d probably never guess that I’m actually an excellent driver. But this night I was extra considerate and conscientious due to the fact that two Siletz residents had, just this week, been arrested for murdering a driver in a road rage incident right here in town. I’ve driven in Portland, and Seattle, and Los Angeles, and New York City, and I’d be lying if I said I never had the urge to pull over and smack someone. But If you can fly into a homicidal rage driving around what there is of the little town of Siletz then you have more issues than I want to deal with. You can bet I was on my best driving behavior all night.

The school and the football field are located in the center of town just off of Gaither Street, the main road through town. We parked off of James Franks Avenue on the north side, but many chose to park off of Buford Avenue on the south side and watch from their cars. On a cold night where social distancing was encouraged, that wasn’t a bad idea. There is a grandstand on the south side of the field for the home team, with wooden bleachers inside a metal enclosure, with a concession/announcer’s booth building just to the east of it. Since we had eaten just before our arrival I didn’ t try the walking tacos, but they looked delicious. As far as I could tell, they are just a scoop of chili with cheese dumped into a bag of Fritos that you can eat with a spoon. If I hadn’t stuffed myself at the Roadhouse I could not have passed that up. I did get some coffee, which was a must on this frigid night, and it did its job.

The north side visitors' seating

It was a strange night at the football game. Of course, masks were required for everyone and there were signs everywhere, which most everyone ignored, reminding us to keep our distance from others. And the crowd was limited to 300 people. From the size of the town and the facilities I was thinking that wouldn’t be a problem, and it wasn’t when we arrived. But by the end of the game the crowd had to be close to capacity, or beyond. Since there was no charged admission I can’t imagine how they could have kept track, or who would have been counting. From our seats in the corner of the stands we did our best to keep to ourselves, which made things kind of boring. And I don’t know if Siletz has a band or cheerleaders but neither were in attendance, presumably due to policies in place to control the spread of the virus. There was a good crowd, but with everyone wearing a mask we didn’t make much noise either. It was eerily quiet for a football game.

Despite the sense that something in the atmosphere was missing, the game itself was exciting. Early on Siletz looked like they might dominate, and they used their running game for several big plays. But Eddyville had a quarterback who could throw the ball, a rarity in 6-man football, and were able to stay in the game, trailing only 25-13 at halftime. In the second half it again was the Siletz ground game against Eddyville’s passing attack, with a furious comeback effort by the Eagles coming up just short in the end. It was clear that both teams were a little rusty. I lost track of the turnover count but it’s safe to say both teams were in double-digits. And rare was the play where there wasn’t at least one penalty flag thrown, which made for a long, long game. But, since we were there, Siletz held their Senior Night festivities while we were in town, and the three seniors on the team were presented at halftime with their families. It was a moment they would have been deprived of if this weird mini-season hadn’t been scheduled, so it’s nice they had that opportunity, and I’m sure having Mrs. Ednold and myself in the crowd only made it that much more special for them.

The weather was just about right for tricking us into thinking it could have been a late-October game during a regular football season. But something in the air gave away the fact that it wasn’t. I’m not sure what it was, but you could tell, you could feel, that it wasn’t. You could never quite convince yourself that it was a normal game during a normal season. But if, as I hope, this is the one and only high school football season that will ever be played in March and April, there’s no way Ednold won’t be there to see it.

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Mar 07, 2021

Football in March! Who would have guessed it. And thank goodness you had the Mrs on hand to curb your aggressive driving tendencies. Best of all it sounds like we'll have a few weeks of football stories. (Just don't mention that South Salem was creamed by Dallas. That's right, little ole Dallas.)

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