The Joseph Eagles played hard on a cold night, but could not quite prevail over a well-prepared and persistent South Wasco Redsides team. In what was largely a defensive battle for the State 1A six-man football title, the Redsides took home the trophy, winning 19-6, in a game that could have gone either way. The Eagle’s squad claimed a close and honorable tournament-based second place statewide.
The Eagles struck first late in the second quarter, on a long, dramatic 80-yard carry by Juston Rogers. They remained in the lead until South Wasco countered with an aerial assault with about 45 seconds left in the half. With just a few seconds to go in the first half, the Eagles again threatened, but Rogers' 20-yard run to the three-yard line was called back on a penalty. Then with only one second left, the Eagles drove to find the end zone, but were halted just inches from paydirt. And time ran out.
The game remained a defensive battle through the third quarter. As the night grew colder, the ball became more difficult to hang onto for both teams. Joseph was often successful in tipping passes away from Redsides receivers, but also found hanging onto their own passes a challenge at times.
South Wasco scored on a long pass to star receiver Garret Olsen in the middle of the 4th quarter, and on a long run into the end zone late in the 4th quarter. A pass to Olsen, who bulldozed his way into the end-zone despite the heroic efforts of Juston Rogers provided the extra point with about three minutes left.
Injuries to both squads played a crucial role in the game. Littlepage suffered what appeared to be an ankle sprain when he was crunched in a tackle, but later proved a broken left foot in the first quarter, and was out for most of the game, returning to the field in the 4th quarter with a noticeable limp. Running back Guylen Snyder suffered a very painful injury of torn quads early in the 4th quarter and was out for the remainder of the game.
Despite the physical play, players from both teams maintained the highest levels of mutual respect and sportsmanship in helping each other off the turf. Also, no rancor was displayed by any player on the field.
Coach Duncan Christman was proud of his team's efforts.
"Man it was a game," he said. "It was tied at six going into the fourth quarter -- it was a pretty tough-fought game."
Christman noted Rogers' efforts after the injuries of running backs Carson Littlepage and Guylen Snyder
"He (Rogers) had shoes to fill and he more than filled them out," Christman said. The coach added that Rogers also took on a leading role on defense with Snyder's injury.
Coach Christman said the squad played their hearts out and put in 110 percent effort while looking toward the future.
"You hate to lose a game like that, but like I told the boys, 'Don't look at it as losing, look at it as learning.' "We set out to either win or learn from what we did to make it better. We're going to do that and get ready to gear up for next season."
Although the Eagles lost a hard-fought championship game that was tied until the middle of the 4th quarter, they dominated Oregon's 6-man play throughout the season, finishing with the second highest point total in the state, and the lowest number of points allowed. Their overall record of 6-1 was bettered by only one team among the 15 teams state-wide that play six-man football. Next year, the Eagles return eight players on their roster. It should be another great season.