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Focus on the fundamentals: HRV football learns from mistakes, looks ahead after St. Helens loss

With hopes of bouncing back from a tough home game last week (49-28 loss to North Salem Sept. 20), the Hood River Valley High School varsity football team went on the road Friday to challenge the St. Helens Lions. With the same 1-3 records going into the game, the scales seemed balanced for an HRV squad that has thus far been unable to build much momentum from week to week.

By halftime, however, the scales were tipped far in the favor of the Lions, who defeated HRV 37-7 in front of their home crowd. The Eagles must now regroup as they face the 5A No. 12 Wilson Trojans (2-3 overall) this Friday night to highlight a week of HRVHS homecoming festivities.

“The schedule seems to get tougher towards the end of the season, so it will be a good challenge for us on Friday versus Wilson,” coach Caleb Sperry said. “If we can get a win, that would be great because it would help improve our position (ranked 34th in Class 5A) in the OSAA rankings. We did a lot of good things, just like we’ve done in the previous couple of weeks, but we just made some costly mistakes at really critical times of the game. We’re improving, though, and we’re getting better and there’s a lot that this team can still accomplish as we just try to move forward.”

HRV had momentum early in the game, but several key mistakes contributed to the Lions getting a 12-0 first-quarter lead. The momentum quickly changed in favor of the Lions, who scored 19 second-quarter points for a 31-0 advantage at halftime.

St. Helens extended its lead to 37-0 after three quarters before the Eagles mounted a fourth-quarter scoring drive to evade the shutout when sophomore backup quarterback Dallas Buckley helped direct a seven-play, 75-yard offensive run capped by his 14-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Wyatt Webber (two receptions, 65 yards).

It was the seventh touchdown for Webber, who leads HRV in receiving with a season total of 20 catches for 374 yards. HRV senior running back Jeremy Fischer led the Eagles’ ground game with 17 carries for 89 yards rushing.

“We had a hard time moving the ball, so we wanted to make a change and see how much Dallas could help us offensively,” Sperry said. “Dallas is obviously an important player for us and he has some good skills, but he just needs to improve some aspects of his game before he’ll become a starter for us. At some point of his varsity career, he’ll have the starting quarterback position, but right now Riley Van Hoose is our starter.”

After Friday’s homecoming game, HRV hosts Pendleton Oct. 11 in the first of three league games and the last home game of the regular season. The team goes on the road the following two weeks to challenge Hermiston Oct. 18 and The Dalles Oct. 25. As of this week, Pendleton is undefeated, Hermiston is 4-1 and ranked 5A No. 6 and The Dalles is 3-2.

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