HERMISTON - The Hermiston Bulldogs have an opportunity to win more games than all of last year with a victory Friday.
Fresh off a come-from-behind victory over the Hood River Valley Eagles last Friday, the Bulldogs welcome Crook County for an Intermountain Conference football game at 7 p.m., searching for their third win in four attempts.
"Crook County is a good team, and we have to step up," said second-year Hermiston coach David Lewis, who earned his first home win with the Bulldogs against Hood River Valley. "We have yet to play a full game."
Hermiston (2-0 IMC, 2-1) was man-handled in the first half against Hood River Valley last week 21-6, but rallied in the second half for a 24-21 victory.
"We grew as a team in that the kids learned from their mistakes and we kept our composure," Lewis said. "The kids stayed calm, and they are the ones that allowed us to come back."
Crook County (1-1 IMC), however, did not fare as well last Friday as Redmond pounded the Cowboys 48-0 one week after Crook County beat The Dalles-Wahtonka.
"We were physically overpowered by Redmond," said seventh-year Crook County coach Steve Turner. "Hermiston may have the three best players in the conference in their backfield and they look very good on film."
Graduation decimated the Cowboys, who finished 3-4 in the IMC last season. Crook County returns just two seniors and start eight underclassmen.
"We would like to get a first down or two against Hermiston," Turner said. "Hermiston has a huge offensive line and size is not on our side."
Seniors Blaine Torcher and Dallen Pope are the only two experienced Crook County varsity players and coach Turner said his team is just trying to improve.
Hermiston has a win over the defending IMC champion Bend Lava Bears and Hood River Valley, which finished second the in the IMC the past two seasons, but coach Lewis feels his team still has plenty of work in front of it.
"We can't overlook anybody," Lewis said. "We have to continue to work and get better with each week."
Junior quarterback Mark Pedro was key in the Bulldogs' win over Hood River Valley. The rookie varsity quarterback had a 1-yard touchdown run, hit Eric Lindley for a 14-yard touchdown pass and completed a 31-yard pass to Mark Carollo late in the game to help set up Adrian Velsaquez's game-winning field goal.
"He grew a lot last week," said Lewis of Pedro. "He still has some growing pains to go through, but he came together some."
Notes: Last year, the Bulldogs lost to Crook County 29-28 in overtime on the road, snapping Hermiston's five-game winning streak against the Cowboys. ... Crook County leads the all-time series 22-15 with two ties. ... Eric Lindley rushed for 147 yards and scored three touchdowns in the loss to Crook County last year.