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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


PENDLETON — A full stadium is no longer in the works, but the Pendleton High School Athletic Renovation Project is still on its way to turning the practice field near the school into a multi-use sports facility after the awarding of two major grants this year.

The Community Sports Development Council presented Pendleton a synthetic turf field to install at the site, a grant worth several hundred thousand dollars. Along with a grant from the Wildhorse Foundation valued at $15,000, Pendleton High has made a dent in the more than $1 million project cost.


 
 
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Hermiston's David Barnett (Photo/EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HERMISTON — For fans of Hermiston Bulldogs football, the phrase “quarterback David Barnett” might sound strange. At this point it seems like a foreign concept to even Barnett himself. But long before the Bulldogs’ senior defensive end was crushing quarterbacks and earning the Columbia River Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year honor this season, he wanted to be the man throwing the ball.

A young Barnett watched his older brother John roll through his Hermiston years as a potent passer on the football team and go on to win four NAIA national championships with Carroll College in Helena, Mont. David wanted to be like John, wear John’s No. 13, hurl those tight spirals the way his brother could.

But something was stopping him.


 
 
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Oakridge palyers gang tackle Heppner's Aidan Wright. (Photo/AJ Mazzolini)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian

HEPPNER — The Oakridge Warriors floated passes through Heppner’s defensive secondary with ease to start the teams’ first-round playoff game Saturday, like the footballs were filled with helium. Oakridge quarterback Austin White nestled balls safely in the arms of his receivers for big gains and the Warriors let out a war cry by taking a 14-8 lead in the first quarter.

But as soon as the Mustangs got their bearings, Heppner squeezed the air of Oakridge’s balloon. Behind six straight touchdown drives, the Mustangs turned a once-close contest on its head and whipped the Warriors 55-29 in Heppner.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


EUGENE — Hermiston has faced some of the most explosive prep football athletes in Oregon this season, experiencing varying degrees of success in the quest to shut them down.

There was the running back dynamo Spencer Payne, who scored six touchdowns for McMinnville. There was Sherwood star back Cristian Morris, who rushed 114 yards but no scores. And last week came titanic quarterback Justin Adams of Sandy, a 6-foot-6 gunslinger who threw five interceptions against the Hermiston secondary.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


PORTLAND — It’s been 55 years since the Stanfield Tigers won a game in the OSAA postseason. But after playoff appearances in three of the past four seasons, coach Steve Sheller thinks 2012 could be the year the Tigers get out of the first round.

Stanfield (7-2, third Blue Mountain Conference) will have to do it in upset fashion when the Tigers travel to the city today to face Portland Christian (9-1, champions Northwest League). Kickoff for the Class 2A first-round game is slated for 6 p.m. at David Douglas High.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


On Friday night in Enterprise, the Outlaws scored a touchdown in the final minutes of a game with Stanfield that could have feasibly tied things 35-35 with an extra point. But when Enterprise elected to go for two points and the lead, the Outlaws created one of the wildest endings in a season of Blue Mountain Conference madness.

When Stanfield’s sophomore linebacker Elvis Lockwood made the tackle to stop the play short, the Tigers clinched the 35-34 victory, the third playoff spot from the conference and also gutted the final hopes of the Weston-McEwen TigerScots.


 
 
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Hermiston's Alex Campbell roars. (Photo/EJ Harris)
By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


The Hermiston Bulldogs gave Kennison Field a memorable sendoff Friday night in the football team’s Class 5A play-in game with Sandy.

The Bulldogs hung a golden 50 points on the Pioneers in a 50-0 bludgeoning to keep their season alive and move on to the first round of the state playoffs.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


HERMISTON — While a hurricane of the same name ravaged the East Coast this week, the Hermiston Bulldogs had their eyes trained on a very different Sandy.

The Sandy Pioneers football team.


 
 
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There were plenty of events over the weekend that had major consequences for the future — and I’m not just talking about your decision to go for the second and third pieces of birthday cake.

Playoffs? Yes, we’re talking about playoffs and a few Eastern Oregon schools punched their tickets to the postseason with football and volleyball performances.


 
 
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By AJ MAZZOLINI
East Oregonian


Each time the Hermiston Bulldogs scored a touchdown this year or took down an opposing football player in the backfield, the usually cacophony has erupted from the sideline. But certain accomplishments have garnered new celebrations among the Hermiston boys.

“Especially on the field if someone gets a big play, a tackle for loss, everybody’s cheering because we know we’re going to get a dog bone,” said Hermiston’s junior running back Trenten Anteau.