By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Where Eagles Dare isn’t exactly the Iron Maiden song you were thinking of necessarily, but it kind of is at the same time in these terms:
With the Oregon West Conference Title up for grabs with North Marion, who’s also 2-0 in OWC play entering their match-up Thursday, the Stayton Eagles Football team has not only a change to win a league title since about 2009/2010; but win their first ever OWC-Title as well if they play their cards right.
And it all starts Thursday night when they punch-in for work.
“We know what’s at stake, we know what we need to do to push, to put every ounce of energy and heart that we got to get this win,” said junior quarterback and defensive back Aidan Hill. “We know what’s at stake and we know where we want to be and if that’s what it’s going to take, then that’s what it’s going to drive us.
“It’s our heart, and our passion to get to where we want to be.”
But how they got to this point almost seems like clockwork, as if it was a part of some master plan put forth by Head Coach Andy Campbell dating back to last December when preparations for this season started.
It was a challenge to help his team to respond when need be when it comes to the tough teams at the top of the OWC with such a tough preseason schedule.
“The big thing is for us has been our ability to respond as a team,” “Realistically, we’re right where we thought we would be. We wanted a little bit of a harder preseason schedule to get us ready to be in the ship that we’re in right now.
“So I think our kids have responded, and I think we’re right on track, right on calendar of where we thought we’re going to be as a staff…I feel good at where we’re at.”
While some teams would take losses to the tune of 41-28, 62-16 to great teams like Estacada and Banks and call it a season in distress.
Not for these Eagles as they answered with a 6-0 grinding win versus Sweet Home and used a unique bye week to stun ‘Turner’ (feel free to use Cascade around these guys and see how they respond *laughter*) and are using that as a springboard to this point.
“We haven’t beat them for a while and we were pumped up about it,” said Andrew Kuenzi.
“That’s a big win, that’s kind of what we knew would spark us,” added Hill. “If we would come out of that victorious then that’s, again that’s where we are, this where we want to be. We want to be, we want to get that win over Turner. We wanted to keep going…and we got to keep it going.”
Maybe they had a Turner Hangover down 8-6 to Yamhill-Carlton in the third quarter before a second half rally sparked them to a 42-14 win this past Friday as they prepare for the Huskies on a short week.
Campbell described them as a combination of teams they have already faced to this point in the season.
“At this stage of the season, the skills and the fundamentals of what we do are in,” “We just got to get ready for them schematically. Really schematically, they’re a accumulation of everything that we’ve seen so far this year.
“There a little Estacada, there a little of Banks, a little bit of YC, there a little bit of Turner. The teams that we’ve seen and teams that we’ve been able to prepare for. So we’re able to take little chunks and bring back some memory and try to involve a little more motor memory in our bodies to say, ‘hey when they when they do this, this is what we do.’”
All that on a short week, senior week and Homecoming week at the school, and yeah they may not have a extra day to prep, but it’s all about showing up for game day as prepared as you can be.
And for Kuenzi and the rest of the seniors, it may be the last time they get to wear their Stayton uniform on home turf. But the focus is on going 1-0.
“Yeah it’s a big game and we want to try to go 1-0 like every other week,” said Kuenzi. “But it’s definitely it’ll mean a lot to us to win.”
It’s Senior Night, It’s Homecoming, It’s coming down to the wire for the OWC-Title and it’s the Stayton Eagles and the North Marion Huskies Thursday Night at Stayton High School.
Kick off is at 7pm.
Follow Jeremy McDonald on Twitter at @J_McDonald81 or like jmcdonaldmedia on Facebook!
Few pictures from Practice (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)