UMATILLA — Who is this Umatilla football team?
The Vikings opened the season 3-0 for the first time in 5 years, handing Stanfield a 27-20 loss on Thursday at Milt Durand Field.
“This is a year we have been able to coach for all four quarters of all three games,” Umatilla coach Dan Durfey said. “They played a really good football game.”
Stanfield, which opened the season with convincing wins over Irrigon and Central Linn, found the Vikings to be a whole other beast.
“That was fun,” Tigers coach Davie Salas said. “One game never defines a team. You need these game to get you where you want to go.”
Tied at 20-20 at the end of the third quarter, the Vikings went to work. They ended a 49-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Earl to Izayah Rodarte with 11:18 let in the game.
Stanfield turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, but the Vikings gave the ball back with a fumble at its own 44-yard line.
The Tigers drove down to the Umatilla 7-yard line, but the Vikings drove them back 8 yards, and two incomplete passes had them giving the ball back to Umatilla, who ran out the clock.
The Vikings (3-0) matched the Tigers (2-1) touchdown for touchdown in the first half, then took the lead at 20-14 with 4:24 to play in the first half on a 10-yard pass play from Earl to Cody Thacker. Jose Medina made good on the PAT.
“He is a big target and has good hands,” Durfey said of Thacker. “It’s nice to have that in the arsenal.”
Enrique Arellano scored both of Stanfield’s touchdowns in the first quarter on runs of 2 and 5 yards.
Pedro Alvarez scored on a 5-yard run to open the score for the Vikings, and Rodarte added a 75-yard kickoff return to pull Umatilla to within 14-13.
“That is a game changer when you run it back after they score,” Durfey said of Rodarte’s play. “It shifts the momentum quickly.”
Arellano ran for 203 yards on the night for the Tigers.
“We were nervous about him,” Durfey said. “We have a young line and they are bigger and older. Our young guys never faltered.”
Arellano has more than 500 yards rushing in three games.
“We blocked well and he ran well,” Salas said. “We will run him all day and his legs are there. We just have to get the ball into the end zone to win games.”