What a game. What a season.
The Hermiston Bulldogs capped their time in the Oregon Schools Activities Association in style on Saturday, beating the previously unbeaten Churchill Lancers 38-35 in a game that kept both cheering sections on the edge of their seats throughout.
It was the second football title in the school’s history, the first under head coach David Faaeteete. In 2014, the Bulldogs won their first and, due to the steady enrollment growth, has opted to join the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association next season.
It was a bittersweet moment in the stands for the Harkenrider family after the death of Frank Harkenrider, 90, known as “Hermiston’s number one fan,” in July. After decades of losing bets with Pendleton city officials over the outcome of Hermiston-Pendleton match-ups, Harkenrider was ecstatic when his favorite team won their first championship in 2014.
Daughter Marla Harkenrider said much of the family — including Frank’s wife Beverly — were in the stands, and she wore her dad’s Bulldog jacket with “Harkie” embroidered on it.
“I just want the team to know that ‘Harkie’ was there with them in spirit,” she wrote in a Facebook message. “Dad would have loved seeing the HUGE crowd there from Hermiston showing their support for their team and town ...
I am sure dad is still dancing a jig to the Hermiston fight song up in heaven!”
Hermiston Mayor David Drotzmann was also in the stands on Saturday night, and led the city council and audience in a round of applause for the Bulldogs during their meeting on Monday. He said the entire city should be proud of the team.
The whole community is welcome to join in the celebration on Thursday at the high school’s main gym at 7:15 p.m. People are invited to meet the coaching staff and players, take photos with the team, get autographs and watch a video of the season’s highlights. Light refreshments will be provided.
For more on the game, the coach, the players and the season, see related coverage from the Nov. 29 special sports section.