Hood River Valley dominated a young Hillsboro High team, 58-14, Friday night at Hare Field in the season-ending high school football game for both teams.
HRV (4-2) controlled the game from the outset, bolting to a 22-0 first-quarter lead. Senior Tanner Fletcher was once again the offensive catalyst, scoring five first-half touchdowns behind the Eagles’ superior offensive line. Fletcher had 198 yards rushing on 27 first-half carries, as HRV led 44-6 at halftime.
Fletcher saw lighter duty in the second half, finishing with 32 carries and 246 yards and six TDs before sitting out the fourth quarter. The first-half advantage was so great, the second half was played with a running clock – as per Oregon high school rules when the advantage is more than 35 points. Fletcher set up his fifth score by intercepting a Spartan pass with 1:26 remaining in the first half.
Hillsboro was a replacement opponent for Parkrose (2-4), which played fellow Portland school Madison instead Friday night. The host Spartans (2-3), who started a couple of freshmen and sophomores, had no answer for HRV’s more experienced lineup, especially the Eagles’ physical front on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
"We were just kind of who we were, who we are,” HRV Coach Caleb Sperry said. “We lined up and went right at them. Let our big guys be big guys.”
For the second straight week, HRV rolled up a huge advantage in offensive yards. A week ago, in the Gorge rivalry contest against The Dalles, the Eagles doubled the Riverhawks in offensive yardage. At Hillsboro, HRV had a three-to-one yardage advantage in the first two quarters.
“We did a way better job of being in position to make tackles, made first-contact tackles,” Sperry said. “Way better job of blocking on the perimeter. We played one of our better games.”
Fletcher scored on TD runs of 10, three, three, seven and two yards – all in the first half – and on a three-yard run to cap HRV’s lone third-quarter possession. Shaw Burns, who usually spells Fletcher during a few offensive series in the first half, found another way to reach the end zone this game. Burns intercepted a pass that was tipped by lineman Henry Buckles and the sophomore linebacker returned it 52 yards for a pick-6 which gave HRV a 28-6 lead.
Hood River took advantage of short fields after Hillsboro either failed to convert on fourth down, or the Eagles intercepted Spartan passes. HRV had three interceptions and also recovered an onside kick.
Fletcher’s first of six scores, with six minutes left in the first period, was set up by Ryles Buckley’s fifth interception in six games. The Eagle offense was back in business a short time later when a high snap forced Hillsboro to give up the ball on downs at its own 18. Buckley picked off another pass later in the game, but the play was called back because of an Eagle penalty. Fletcher finished his six-game senior season with 1,031 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.
Hood River junior Trenton Hughes scored the final Eagle touchdown of the season on a 53-yard run with 6:13 to play. The preceding play, junior defensive back Joey Frazier’s tackle on fourth-and-short gave HRV the ball near midfield.
COVID adjusted the season, forcing it to be moved from fall to spring, but Sperry said there are plenty of positive takeaways when it’s all said and done. “We feel fortunate to give the kids an opportunity to compete and be a part of something,” he said. “Sometimes you lose sight of what sports is all about, (including) overcoming things, dealing with adversity.”
Sperry had nothing but praise for his nine seniors, who played in their final high school football game. The group included: Michael Goodman, Zac Wells, Fletcher, Preston Armstrong, Emilio Castaneda, Weston Sieverkropp, Andy Foster, Joseph Kahler and Buckles.
“What I can say about those guys is that some teams you have talent, and they don’t want to work. Then there are those that want to work but aren’t that talented. These guys are the complete package. They are great athletes, hard workers, loyal, committed, coachable. They’re respectful, and nice and great leaders, great students,” Sperry said. “That makes it fun to be able to be around guys that have all those qualities and then maximize their abilities.”