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Eagle football starts flat, falls to North Salem

Team trims margin to 14 after trailing 35-0 at home

 MARTIN LANTHALER was four-for-four in extra point kicks Friday evening.

MARTIN LANTHALER was four-for-four in extra point kicks Friday evening. Photo by Adam Lapierre.

Following their biggest win of the season a week earlier (45-19 over Redmond Sept. 13), the Hood River Valley High School varsity football team (1-3) had momentum they were hoping to carry Friday’s home matchup against the North Salem Vikings (1-3). With home field advantage and a near-capacity crowd at Henderson Community Stadium — including HRV’s 2013 Athletic Hall of Fame inductees – the Eagles took on a struggling Vikings squad that hadn’t won a game in nearly two years.

The Vikings ended their 17-game losing streak with a 49-28 win over the home Eagles.

The Eagles will try to bounce back from the loss when they go on the road to play the St. Helens Lions (1-3), of the Northwest Oregon Conference, in their next contest Friday at 7 p.m. at St. Helens High School. The Lions have dropped three straight, including a 54-13 loss Sept. 20 in their last game to No. 1-ranked Sherwood (4-0) and have been outscored 109-58 in their last three.

“We had some costly errors early in the game that contributed to the momentum slipping away from us and it’s always hard to overcome a big deficit,” coach Caleb Sperry said after Friday’s game. “Forgetting about this game wouldn’t be the right thing to do, because the kids need to remember how bad it feels to lose and use it for motivation to respond to a tough loss.”

North Salem, of the OSAA Class 6A Central Valley Conference, took the opening kickoff and proceeded all the way to the Eagle six-yard line. HRV’s defense, led by junior linebacker Steven Swafford (five tackles), stopped a Viking drive that stalled after a failed fourth-down conversion attempt.

The Eagle offense sputtered for much of the game, particularly in the first half in which they were outscored 28-0. North Salem capitalized on good field position in its third possession to take a 7-0 lead with about a minute left in the first quarter. The Vikings then rattled-off 21 second-quarter points to build a significant lead going into the locker room.

“It’s uncharacteristic of our team to fall behind 28-0 at halftime,” said Sperry. “We need to do a better job of coming out and playing hard in the first half. We can’t wait until the third quarter to make a comeback.”

A third-quarter comeback attempt is exactly what happened. After North Salem took a 35-0 advantage with eight minutes remaining

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