In sports, every once in a while, you just need do tip your hat and say that they were the better team today. Joseph found itself in this situation when it hosted Powder Valley. The Badgers entered the game in a battle for first place in the 1A Old Oregon standings along with Imbler (3-0, 6-0 overall) and Wallowa 3-0, 5-2 overall). Powder Valley knew entering the game that it wanted to run a spread offense with a balanced attack between the ground and air. And it worked - the Badgers went on to 56-6 victory and initially eliminated the Eagles from the playoff hunt.
After losing running back and linebacker Tyler Coppin to a one-game suspension for fighting, the Eagles knew it would be an uphill battle all night. To the surprise of many, the Eagles were giving Powder Valley all it could handle in the first quarter and were only down 14-6. But in the second quarter, Joseph could not hold the floodgates any longer. The Badgers unleashed a ground attack that saw running back Michael Stephens carry the ball with ease and with a combination of Joseph turnovers in crucial situations, the Eagles found themselves down 42-6 at halftime.
"We did have some opportunities in the first half to do something, but we had too many costly turnovers, and against good teams like Powder Valley, you can't do that and win," coach Rusty Eschler said.
Joseph decided to head in a new direction by starting sophomore Jay Chitwood in the quarterback position. Trying to get the timing down with receivers and running backs, Chitwood was dealt a long night while learning on the job. The Badgers were able to put pressure on the young quarterback by forcing him into four sacks.
"The timing wasn't right because they're still getting familiar with each other and that's pretty much how it's gone for us this season. We've never had a real consistent lineup this year...but I'm real proud of Chitwood for hanging in there. I think he did an outstanding job," Eschler said.
One bright spot for Joseph was Chris Harshman who ran for 165 yards on 30 carries. But overall, the Badgers contained the Eagles for most of the night.
"Basically, it comes to Powder Valley just being better than us...our hats are off to them," Eschler said.
Unfortunately, the schedule doesn't get any easier for Joseph, as it welcomes Wallowa Friday. In the last week of the season, it appears that Wallowa is a cohesive unit right now.
"I've said it all season long that Mohawk and Wallowa were the two best teams," Eschler said. " First-year quarterback (Brandon) Mahon has impressed me all year long. They have a number of weapons...Kaleb Oveson is almost like a vacuum cleaner because he catches everything thrown his way. But you can't talk about Wallowa without talking about running back Jeff Long. He's the hitter; he's got tremendous speed and he likes to hit. The difficult thing about Wallowa is that you're not sure if they're going to run or pass. But we'll try and run different schemes at them and try and confuse the first-year quarterback."