HEPPNER — The Heppner Mustangs are making noise in the 2A football ranks and the season hasn’t started yet.
The Mustangs came in at No. 4 in the first statewide coaches poll Wednesday, picking up one first-place vote along the way.
Kennedy, the defending state champion, came in at No. 1, garnering 11 of the 15 first-place votes.
According to the OSAA, the 2A classification has not had a repeat champion since Scio in 2009 and 2010.
Santiam, last year’s runner-up, came in second, followed by Monroe, Heppner and Lost River to round out the top five.
Heppner faces Santiam the second week of the season on the road in Mill City.
The bottom five of the poll sees Coquille at No. 6, followed by Knappa, Sheridan, Warrenton, and Toledo and Lakeview, which tied for 10th.
In the 1A 6-man poll, the Echo Cougars came in at No. 3, getting one first-place vote.
“It’s awesome,” Echo coach Don Walker said. “We are in a pretty good league. It’s nice to be on top, but it also puts a target on your back.”
Joseph was ranked first, earning five of eight first-place votes. South Wasco County was second, McKenzie fourth and Harper Charter fifth.
Walker found out Wednesday that Harper will not field a team of its own. The Hornets will be co-opting with Huntington, and playing the Locomotives’ schedule. He is on the hunt to fill the void.
Echo will host Joseph in a league game Sept. 20, and will play at South Wasco County on Oct. 4.
In the 1A poll, four-time reigning state champion Dufur is ranked No. 1, picking up 14 of 19 first-place votes.
The Rangers, who have won 33 consecutive games, can become just the second team to win five consecutive titles, matching Regis (1973-77).
Rounding out the top 10 are St. Paul, Hosanna Christian, Crane, Camas Valley, Adrian/Jordan Valley, Wallowa, Falls City/Kings Valley Charter, Lowell and Imbler.
Local football fans can catch a glimpse of Dufur and Adrian/Jordan Valley on Sept. 6. They will play each other in the second game of a doubleheader at Kennison Field in Hermiston.
The first game will feature Ione/Arlington vs. Powder Valley at 4 p.m.
Ione/Arlington will host Dufur on Oct. 4.