There was so much promise at the start of the season for the Hermiston football team.
Strong senior class, good leadership and a grasp of what it takes to be successful in the Mid-Columbia Conference.
The Bulldogs were on top of the world heading into their first game at Pasco. Then sophomore quarterback Chase Elliott broke his leg, and running back Guiomar Garay was out several games with an ankle injury.
And the hits just kept coming. Defensive lineman Sean Stewart missed the better part of two games with injuries, linebacker Nathan Wheeler suffered a hand injury last week, and linebacker Ryan Arnold, the team’s leading tackler, is likely to miss his second game Friday with an injury when the Bulldogs host North Central at 5 p.m. in an MCC/GSL crossover game at Kennison Field.
“It’s a pride thing,” Hermiston coach David Faaeteete said. “We have had a sour taste all year. We have a chance to be 1-0 in November. It’s always different with these crossover games. They (GSL teams) are well-coached and deep. We have to do our thing and play as a team.”
As to the injuries, every one of the aforementioned players is questionable for Friday, except Elliott, whose injury was season-ending.
“Ryan will do anything in his power to play,” Faaeteete said. “Sean is sore, but he should be good to go. G (Garay) will do anything to play, but you never know with ankle injuries. Wheeler did not practice Monday, so we will see.”
Hermiston senior wide receiver/defensive back Garrett Walchli, who has been able to stay healthy, has not been looking forward to this game.
“As a senior, this is our final game,” he said. “The last time we will suit up in football pads. The last time we will play together. A lot of us have been together since Grid Kids. It’s bittersweet, but you get to spend the game with the boys around you.”
The Bulldogs (1-8) are coming off a 40-7 loss to Kamiakin.
Their one win came came in Week 5 with a 37-7 victory over Southridge.
North Central (1-8) lost its first eight games of the season before beating Rogers 26-3 on Halloween night.
“They are a lot like us,” Walchli said. “Struggling to find chemistry. We will take it one play at a time.”
Walchli is disappointed that the season did not go as planned, but there were lessons to be learned along the way.
“Football teaches you a lot about life,” he said. “In a sense, everyone’s goal is a state championship, or a league title. It’s the process, not the product — that’s when you find out who your teammates are.”