Sometimes success can be a double-edged sword. Take, for instance, the Hermiston High boys athletic programs.
Obviously, the football team is enjoying its finest season ever, but it's taking a toll on the winter sports. While the gridders are still padding up, the basketball and wrestling teams are waiting for some of their stars to attend their first practice.
Guys like John Barnett, Tyson Banker, Brian White and Tyler Hartsteen will have their work cut out for them, especially if the Bulldogs win tonight and extend the football season another seven days, because the first varsity contests in boys hoop and wrestling are on Dec. 6. The killer is both squads have fierce competitions to start the season, with the basketball team hosting always-tough West Valley from Yakima and the wrestling squad traveling to Wapato and Deer Park for tournaments.
The challenge for coaches in both programs is trying to determine exactly how good their teams will be minus key players against top-flight competition. And, if the Bulldog football team happens to make it to the state title game on Dec. 7, there might be a cancellation or two, primarily in basketball.
That happened last year when Pasco had to nix its scheduled game with Hermiston because they were playing in the Washington state football championship the same night. On the wrestling mat, the Bulldogs' regular-season unbeaten streak might come to an end in Deer Park if the big guys aren't there. If they are, they'll be coming off a tough football season with less than a week in the practice room to get ready.
On the basketball court, two of Hermiston's best athletes are injured now and probably won't be entirely healed entering the season. John Barnett has been hobbled with a deep thigh bruise and Tyson Banker is out with a severe ankle sprain. There won't be much time to rest up and get healthy for basketball.
Good luck to Larry Usher and Curt Berger who have to be pleased for the athletic program overall but at the same time sweating bullets at how their teams will open the season.
Tonight's football quarterfinal playoff game should be a good one. Once again, the old adage that it's a small world comes into play as Bulldog coach Jerry Williams faces a former acquaintance. He and Clackamas head coach Ray Baker were teammates at Southern Oregon University.
It's also a small world in regard to the fact that Hermiston will be facing the third opponent in a row that likes to play the spread offense and throw the ball down the field. So far, the Bulldog defense has met the challenge on every occasion, holding Centennial to 20 points and North Medford to 13.
Hermiston also saw similar offenses during the regular season in Mountain View and Crook County and neither team had much success getting on the scoreboard, with the Cougars managing only a field goal and the Cowboys posting a scant nine points. It's been said all year that the weakness of the Dawg's "D" is the corners but, based on performance, I'm not necessarily sure that's true. A couple of coaches have said this year that Hermiston's defense doesn't have any weaknesses and I'm beginning to believe them.
For those who live outside of KOHU's signal, there's good news if you want to listen to the play-by-play of tonight's football game. The broadcast will also be carried on the Internet.
OregonLive.com will stream the entire broadcast over the web, including the Tailgate Show and post-game show. Once you're on the home page, just click on "Spotlight Show" and they'll have a link to the game. "Air" time is 6:15.
From the notebook:
College wrestling fans might as well start calling Oregon State University "Hermiston West." With the announcement this week that Kyle Larson has signed a letter of intent to wrestle for Joe Wells next winter, five former Bulldogs will be on the OSU squad. Brother Jeremy signed on over the summer and is slated to be the back-up at 157 pounds as a true freshman.
Already in the program are redshirt freshmen Jed Lowe (the first Hermiston wrestler to take up residency in Corvallis and a backup at 197 pounds) and Orlando Perez, and true freshman Bryan Medelez. Go Bulldogs, er, Beavers!
Adam Russell is a Hermiston radio broadcaster.