"It was plenty exciting," said Joseph coach Rusty Eschler of the Eagles 32-26 victory over the Elgin Huskies on Friday night in Elgin. "They had a lot of big kids up front," he added.
Both teams duked it out in the first quarter with Elgin drawing first blood on a 60 yard pass from Charlie Schumacher to Codi Burgess to give the Huskies a 6-0 lead. JHS running back Randall Eschler got things rolling for the Eagles late in the quarter on a four yard run to tie the score at 6-6. Scoring momentum stayed with Joseph in the second period as Eschler crossed the goal line after a 14 yard run. JHS senior Mike Gamboa added to the Eagles total with a four yard run to give the Eagles a 18-6 lead at the half.
Elgin running back Blake Eckstein got the Huskies back on track in the third quarter burning Joseph's defense for a 60 yard score to narrow Joseph's lead to 18-12. Elgin continued their turnaround midway through the period as Schumacher found receiver Bill Miller for a 26 yard strike to tie the contest at 18 all.
Joseph regrouped to move the ball down field. JHS quarterback Kyle Hook took the ball in for the score on a one yard run late in the period. Eagles kicker Lance Strickland found the uprights for the PAT allowing the Eagles to regain the lead at 25-18. Gamboa increased the JHS lead early in the final period with an eight yard score. Strickland added the PAT giving Joseph some breathing room at 32-18. Elgin wasn't about to be counted out as they worked their way down field late in the fourth quarter. Burgess carried the ball in for a one yard score and ran in the two point conversion for the 32-26 final.
The win gave Joseph their best overall start 6-3 since Eschler became coach at JHS five years ago. Joseph, Imbler and Pine Eagle should all move down to join Wallowa in the Old Oregon League next season. The move has been anticipated by the Eagles coaching staff for some time. "I tell the kids every week that we are the best eight man football team playing 11 man football in the state" Eschler said. "It's been a great season so far, great kids and a lot of fun."
Joseph travels to Pine Eagle on Friday to try out their eight man strategies against the Spartans who have been playing an independent schedule this season. Action is scheduled to get under way at 1 p.m.
Score by quarter
Joseph: 6 12 7 7 - 32
Elgin: 6 0 12 8 - 26
Rushing: Joseph - Eschler 38/124; Gamboa 30/100; Hook 4/11; Strickland 1/2; Stewart 3/3; Hayes 1/15. Elgin - Eckstein 12/101; Payne 6/33;
Schumacher 5/14; McDonald 3/8; Burgess 12/47. Passing: Joseph - Hook 4/12/49; Eschler 6/12/38. Elgin: Schumacher 9/23/189, 1 int. Receiving: Joseph -Stewart 1/0; Gamboa 3/28; Eschler 1/11. Elgin - Burgess 2/73; Payne 1/-3; Eckstein 2/15; Miller 3/78; Foster 1/26.