Summer is always the longest of all seasons in the sporting world. With the conclusion of an epic Stanley Cup Friday and the end of the NBA?Championships soon to follow, fans will be left with a daunting 100+ games of Major League Baseball until the NFL?and college football show up around Labor Day.

For those who live and breathe a baseball diet, that is not a bad thing, but sports nuts looking for variety may find themselves taking up a sudden interest in all things NASCAR or in the Pro Golfer's Association - especially with Tiger Woods headlining the U.S. Open like nature intended.

Locally, the task becomes even tougher. Football season seems a world away, but summer camps have given the masses a glimmer of hope and just a glance of the many items to watch with the season looming on the horizon.

The new direction of Pendleton Buckaroo football and the eager anticipation of a second year with Mark Hodges at the helm of Hermiston football will be the talk of the two rival towns until Friday nights once again take up their allure.

To add to the agonizingly slow drip of summer days is the uncertainty of whether or not Umatilla can keep up its run of success with the departure of so many key contributors. Third year coach Kelly Allen has once again turned football into a must see event in Viking nation and he and his staff will push forward without the likes of Nathan Creason and Steve Williams.

The Blue Mountain Conference may be as competitive as it has been in recent history with virtually all coaching staffs reprising their roles of 2008 when the final two playoff spots could not be decided until the final weekend. Led by the more than 50 straight conference wins of Heppner, questions abound concerning the chances of Pilot Rock finally dethroning its rival, the improvement of Weston-McEwen and Stanfield and the impact of the teams on the other side of the Blues.

For the immediate future, the theme regarding sports in Eastern Oregon is less watching, more doing. Unless the 30-30 Seattle Mariners or the mystique of playing football on a field half the usual size pique the same level of interest as championship basketball or the Lord Stanley's Cup, sporting afficionados may be better off taking up golf or exploring the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

If competitive sports are the only thing to quench your thirst, though, fear not. With June 20 fast approaching - and with it the promise of ever shortening days - the countdown for football has begun.


Justin Chartrey is a sports writer for the East Oregonian. Write him at


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