By Christopher Halsey
BEND With their first victory ever on the road against Mountain View 46-17 Friday, the Hermiston Bulldog football team improved to 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in Intermountain Conference play.
Mike Herriman gave Hermiston a quick 7-0 lead on a 1-yard run that followed an interception by Marcus Maddox.
Hermiston turned a fumbled punt return in the early stages of the game into a 14-0 lead after quarterback Jared Zabransky hit Bryan Medelez with a 12-yard scoring strike.
They are probably better than they showed, Hermiston coach Jerry Williams said of the early Cougar turnovers. We had some breaks in the first quarter.
Junior John Barnett led the first drive for a score after Zabransky injured his ankle on the first offensive play, but Zabransky returned to the game for a strong effort. The senior signal caller, according to Williams was at about 50 percent Monday and was day-to-day for Fridays 7 p.m. home game against Bend.
Zabransky really had a good game, Williams said.
Williams praised the offensive line play as well as the play of James Williams and Maddox.
James Williams did a great job. He was just all over the place, the second year head coach said.
Coach Williams cautioned that Bend will provide the stiffest competition to date for the Bulldogs, whos roster he said was paper thin.
Its really interesting, he said of Hermistons second 4-0 start in as many years.
He said that talk of Hermiston making the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and the third time ever is premature.
People are going to start talking about the playoffs, they need to stop that, until we beat somebody that puts us in position to get there.
Bend may very well be one such team. The Lava Bears looked much improved Friday in winning for the first time this season, 30-14 over Springfield.
Pendleton won for the fifth time in as many games Friday in a 42-8 stomping of previously undefeated (3-1 overall, 0-1 in Intermountain Conference play) Crook County. Redmond is 3-1 overall and tied for second at 1-0 in the IMC with Hermiston.
You just move forward and see if you cant improve. Bend is a good football team, Williams said.
Youre not going to beat Bend unless you can run and they are going to try and stop the run. The (Hermiston) offensive line must execute.
Its important that we focus on what we can do.
He said that the Bulldogs must attend to getting as many players healthy as possible and practice better.
Medelez injured his ankle and is likely out Fridays game.
Weve got to re-group, Williams said.
Against Mountain View, Tom Plucinak gave Hermiston a 21-0 advantage in the first quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Herriman scored his second first half touchdown before the Cougars were able to put their only first half points on the board with a Curt Plants 10-yard pass from Brandon Yon.
(For the complete story, see the Oct. 2 edition of the Hermiston Herald)