Eagles begin IMC play as one of favorites

Remodeled defense, systematic offense will keep HRV in playoff hunt

It would be easy for an uneducated football fan to look past the Hood River Valley Eagles in the Intermountain Conference this year.

The graduations of 13 seniors, including nine of 11 offensive starters, is enough to leave any coach guessing. But if you’re HRV coach Mitch Sanders, the answers are already becoming apparent.

“So far we have been very pleased with the play of our entire defense and our linemen on both sides of the ball,” said Sanders, whose 2-0 Eagles will open IMC play Friday at home against the Summit Storm.

“We still have a lot of little things to work on, but when we control the ball the way we have, we’re going to win games.”

The Eagles have already received an early-season nod from OregonLive.com, being picked to win the league. Defending league champ, Hermiston is in second, and 2002 playoff team Pendleton is in third.

After that, it’s a bit of a toss up. Crook County has a re-tooled offense to surround senior quarterback Chad Swindle, with running backs Justin Barden and Matt Bliss combining to score eight touchdowns in the Cowboys’ first two games.

Meanwhile, Hermiston enters the league season with an unproven quarterback, senior Jake Burns, along with a brand-new offensive line. But they also return a 1,000-yard rusher in Justin Ramirez.

Likewise, Pendleton will rely on its ground game, with most of the carries being handled by returning 1,000-yarder Chase Berry. Fullback Sean Orr and wideout Kipp Curtis are the Bucks’ other two offensive weapons.

Mountain View is also getting some attention in the early season predictions. After a strong late-season run last year, which landed them in the playoffs, the Cougars are hoping to squeeze into the top three.

Redmond, Summit and Bend could provide some resistance along the way, and Sanders knows none of HRV’s opponents will allow them to lose focus.

“We have to be ready every week,” he said. “There are no pushovers in the IMC.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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