By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.—At the beginning of the season, not a lot of people expected the Stayton Football team to go far in 2016.
And the Eagles knew that, and they proved those critics wrong en route to picking up a Co-Oregon West Conference Title in the process and hosting a play-in game and holding a 4-3 record entering football’s postseason.
It’s something to be proud of said Kurtys Hernandez, who caught two touchdowns in his final game in the Stayton Colors.
“I’m really proud actually, we definitely got farther than a lot of people thought we were going to,” he said. “I think we left a pretty good trail, it leaves a pretty good example for the underclassmen coming up next year.”
For Aidan Hill, the junior knows that the 49-14 final score lights a fire within the cores of the returning players knowing that they can do this again and get behind the Play-In round that’s been plaguing the Eagles program the past three years.
“Been with the team for three years in a row that hasn’t been able to make it to the next level, it really puts a fire in you,” said Hill. “Especially coming into a last season, I mean that’s your last chance. It’s the last time to get those chances and do that kind of stuff.. It’ll definitely put a fire under us and get us that little more motivation to get to that level next year.
“Our guys didn’t give up,” Hill added on Saturday’s game. “They didn’t quit on us when we knew we didn’t have any chance left, they kept going hard. You saw Ryan Burton, you Seth Dailey, Andrew Kenzi going balls out still and that’s what you ask for, you don’t go down without a fight.”
Hill continues on about how they can get past this plateau and break into the field of 16 and chase the dream of a State Championship, and the pain that goes behind knowing the frustrations that they are feeling right now.
“We just have to go balls out every game, all game,” described Hill. “We start off slow these first few games, we weren’t able to pull out the first two, get a good run the next few games and we kind of ended the season on a mediocre note. I mean we kind of stayed leveled, we had our ups-and-downs and we weren’t able to pull it out, and that’s frustrating when your with a team that you love so much.
As they broke off to console one another, seniors, freshman, sophomore or juniors, they were on the same page in knowing one another’s pain at that same moment. A few Baker kids came up and shook hands and told Stayton way to battle and to keep on doing what they’re doing.
For Hernandez, as he hangs up the pads for the last time, he’s going to always remember the family atmosphere at Stayton High School.
“I’m just going to say the family environment that we have here,” he said. “It’s a wonderful school and a lot of good people, a lot of fan support too.”
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