Friday night marked the first six-man football played in Oregon since 1948, and it made a heated return.
Opening with a coin toss delivered by Kaye McAtee, who played in Echo’s last six-man game in 1948, the reduced number of players on the field resulted in a fast-paced match between the Echo Cougars and Harper Hornets. The Hornets emerged victorious with a final score of 38-13.
Harper running back Corbin Palmer started the night off strong, rushing the ball 27 yards to the 14-yard line. Chris Williams completed the run and put his team on the scoreboard first with 8:33 left on the clock.
Echo quarterback Devan Craig and running back Mason Smith shone bright on the field, making several strong attempts to score against Harper. Smith rushed for 21 yards, and Craig gained 30 yards in one play. He was also able to run the ball 37 yards, nearly scoring, but received a penalty for stepping out of bounds.
Craig suffered a minor elbow injury in the second quarter, sitting out for several minutes to recuperate. Meanwhile, Smith scored the Cougars’ first touchdown after rushing for 21 yards and scoring on the next play.
Palmer scored the Hornets’ next touchdown, only for Craig to return to the field to give Echo a slight lead after a touchdown and a successful one-point conversion. Echo’s lead didn’t last long, however — Palmer scored the final touchdown of the first half, giving his team the lead with a score of 18-13.
Corbin continued his streak in the third quarter, scoring and bringing Harper’s score up to 24-13.
Echo suffered a critical blow when Craig and Smith were both injured and benched for the remainder of the game.
Williams and Nano DeSantiago finished Harper’s night off with a bang, rushing the ball 44 and 72 yards respectively, and scoring the last two touchdowns of the night.
“The boys worked hard,” said Hornets head coach David Marker. “They put everything we had into this game. I love six-man football, it’s a different game, but a lot of fun. One missed tackle could mean everything.”
Echo head coach Rick Thew says his team will need more time to adjust to six-man football.
“We came in a little over-confident,” he said. “We played these guys last year and beat them pretty good, but this time they came out ready to play, and we came out flat. Two of our best players ended up on the bench. But we can only go up from here. There’s always gonna be failure — it’s how you respond that matters.”
Echo will travel to Monument High School next Friday, while Harper will travel to Prairie City.