Times changing for local middle school football

Yet another youth football season got underway Thursday at Hood River Middle School as the Panthers took on their cross-county rivals, the Wy’east Eagles.

Just like the Gorge Youth Football and high-school teams before them, the four local squads showed flashes of early-season brilliance as HRMS won the first game 14-7, and Wy’east won the second, 30-0.

But there wasn’t the traditional seventh-grade game and eighth-grade game as in years past.

More than a few changes are in the air this year, and teams from throughout the Mid Columbia are doing their best to adjust.

First and foremost, this year’s coaching staffs have been asked to divide all their players into two evenly-matched teams per school (The Dalles also has two teams; Chenowith has one).

“It’s been a real headache for the coaches to decide on teams this year,” said Wy’east A.D. Matt Ihle. “Adjustments like this are tough, but I think the kids will see a lot better competition as they prepare for the high-school level.”

But there’s another twist. Since Goldendale dropped out of the league this year, there are an odd number of teams (7).

Which forced Ihle and the athletic directors from HRMS, The Dalles and Chenowith to figure out a way to include an eighth team from Portland’s Christian Youth Organization (CYO).

The system is set up so that the “bye” team in the nine-team CYO league will face one of the Mid Columbia teams each week. Ihle said it should offer superior competition for the local kids, while evening out the number of teams.

“The seventh-graders are going to progress a lot quicker this way,” Ihle said. “They might need to get thrown around for a year so they understand what it takes to play against bigger kids.”

Everyone knows that there’s always someone bigger at the high-school level, and Ihle believes that, although the Mid Columbia League had to adopt CYO rules, the overall change will be better for each of the programs.

“The number of players has been steadily growing since Gorge Youth Football started in 2000,” Ihle said. “Now, when the kids get to the middle school level, they aren’t starting from scratch. And pretty soon, we will start to see an even smoother transition to high school ball.”

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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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