Before easternoregonsports.com takes on the monumental task of winter sports coverage, we decided to take one final look at our football teams. There is only one state champion in each division and even league titles are hard to come by with the talent in eastern Oregon. Teams without a title made great strides this past fall, overcoming obstacles and looking towards the future. We will warn you-we probably neglected to mention a few worthy of discussing.
We start with the easiest here. It may not be officially recognized by the OSAA, but the Rattlers of Wheeler County are truly the 6-man champions. With 22 teams across the state competing in 6-man action, the OSAA needs to formally recognize and crown a 6-man champion with all the fanfare of 6A football. Throughout our travels this fall, many, even in eastern Oregon, still don’t realize 6-man football is being played. The Rattlers dominated this division, putting up 433 points and finishing with a perfect 10-0 record. Come next fall, we encourage each and every fan to find and attend a 6-man game. You will not be disappointed. Wheeler County was a joy to watch and the players and coaching staff proved to be a great bunch to interview after a win.
Eastern Oregon has much to applaud in the 1A 8-man ranks. Two eastern Oregon teams, both hailing from the Special District 2-East, met and played for a state title. Congratulations go to state champion Adrian and runner-up Powder Valley. In all, five teams from this side of the state were ranked in the top 10 including Crane (6th), Dufur (8th) and Enterprise (10th). Having half of the state’s best in two leagues says much for this side of the state.
We will admit, plans were made to cover Heppner in the 2A finals early in the season. Even a loss in the semifinals does not deter from what the Mustangs have done in the past three years. Every coach in Oregon would kill for a 29-1 record over a three-year period. Possibly overshadowed by the Mustangs this year was the TigerScots of Weston-McEwen. The TigerScots put together an impressive 8-2 season with the losses coming only to Heppner twice. Not a bad showing for a team that went .500 in the last regular season.
In the 3A ranks, EOS was hoping for a Vale/La Pine championship game. Although it was not to be, both teams can be proud of the season. The two teams are not scheduled to meet next season, but we can foresee a quarterfinal or semi-final game for the 2022 season. We also expect Burns to bounce back from a young team this year and will see what second year coach Lance Lovitt can accomplish with the Bulldogs.
The Greater Oregon League featured La Grande and Baker duking it out again. The Bulldogs took the victory in the short season with the Tigers repaying the favor this past year. This places next year as the rubber game.
Here is the unknown for next year. Now the season has ended, the OSAA will start looking at redistricting for football. Here is what we expect-MacHi will come down to the 3A ranks in the EOL. Don’t be shocked if Pendleton joins the GOL in the 4A ranks and completely dominates. Also don’t look surprised if Umatilla, Riverside and Irrigon are moved down to 2A or request the move downward. We don’t expect much to change in the 1A ranks.