Playoff Push: Central Oregon high school teams set out toward state titles

Volleyball

6A

No. 2 ranked Bend High (20-2) hosts 15th-ranked Mountainside (14-10) Saturday at 3 p.m.

No. 17 ranked Summit (10-12) travel to No. 1 ranked West Linn (24-2) Saturday at 6 p.m.

5A

No. 4 ranked Ridgeview (14-4) hosts 13th-ranked Thurston (13-7) Saturday at 6 p.m.

No. 11 ranked Redmond (15-9) travel to No. 6 ranked Silverton (15-5) Saturday at 1 p.m.

No. 10 ranked Crook County (14-7) travel to No. 7 ranked Wilsonville (18-4) Saturday at 2 p.m.

4A

No. 1 ranked Sisters (19-3) hosts 16th-ranked Marist Catholic (6-12) Saturday at 1 p.m.

3A

No. 15 ranked La Pine (12-12) travel to No. 2 ranked Burns (25-3) Saturday at 1 p.m.

2A

No. 14 ranked Culver travel to No. 3 ranked Monroe Saturday at 1 p.m.

Girls Soccer

6A

No. 4 ranked Bend (9-3-1) hosts 29th-ranked Sheldon (7-7) Saturday at 12 p.m.

No. 12 ranked Summit (6-2-5) hosts 21st-ranked McMinnville (9-4-1) Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Boys soccer

6A

No. 1 ranked Summit (12-0-1) hosts 32nd-ranked McDaniel (5-7-2) Saturday at 2 p.m.

4A

No. 12 Sisters (7-5-2) hosts Gladstone (4-7-3) Saturday at 4:30 p.m. (Play-in game)

▶️ Jefferson Co. schools look to improve security, facilities

It’s been nine years since the last bond measure passed in the Jefferson County School District.

Come November, a new 509-J school bond measure is on the ballot.

The ballot is a $24 million package for things like upgrading security and building repairs, but a portion of that money would go to upgrading the Madras High School soccer facility.

“When you are talking about 20 to 30 kids, this is a totally adequate facility, but it is not now,” said Madras High School head varsity soccer coach Clark Jones. “It has basically aged out. It’s like a lot of the other parts of our building, you can put Band-Aids on here and fix it up, but it is still not going to fit the needs that we have.”

Jones has been a part of the soccer program for 16 years.

With recent success, both the boys and girls programs combined had close to 100 students sign-up to play this year, but according to coaches and parents there is a big need for upgrades.

“We have one bathroom for girls and boys, and I mean when they want to change, they have to change on the field basically, which is not very, you know, good for girls,” said Madras parent Mary Bravo.

“A lot of kids will wear their clothes to school,” Jones said. “They will change over there and come here. They have to wait. Even the coaches don’t have a place to change to tell you the truth.”

With the soccer fields not immediately by the school, athletes have to share two single bathrooms to change.

The current field also has no lights; forcing games to be played earlier in the day.

“There are parents that have never been able to watch their kids play because of the time of the day,” Jones said. “It ends up becoming accessible to parents also, so I think that will be a huge thing for players and parents.”

If the bond passes, $1.4 million of the $24 million bond would go towards upgrading the soccer facility.

The rest of the money will go toward improving health, safety, and security, repairing and updating aging school buildings and expanding vocational opportunities and early learning.

“We’re mindful of the times that we are in, small businesses, individuals, the drought, but we also know the community expects us as a school district to make sure our kids are taken care of and we have to continue to take care of them the best we can and this is how we are going to do that,” said school board chair Laurie Danzuka.

The bond is not going to raise taxes and if passed, the board hopes all upgrades will be done within a two-year period.

Ballots must be turned in by November 2.

▶️ OSAA changes volleyball state tourney; only 4 teams to play

Last year Oregon high school sports did not have state playoffs due to COVID-19 precautions.

This year the competition is back, but it won’t look the same as previous years at the volleyball state tournament.

Instead of eight teams going to the tournament, only four are allowed.

“The state tournament is something that should be rewarded,” said Ridgeview Varsity coach Randi Viggiano. “It should be something to strive, and work for, and being a part of that final eight is a whole experience. So, the fact that only four teams will get to experience, it’s a real bummer, especially for all those seniors that missed that opportunity last year.”

This new playoff format also means teams will not be able to play for 5th – 8th place.

“Yeah that’s tough,” Viggiano added. “I also think for the first time especially in our classification in 5A, there are some teams who maybe haven’t had the opportunity to be at a state tournament in recent years, and an opportunity to have that experience and take home a trophy.”

Oregon School Activities Association executive director Peter Webber says some high school sites were worried about COVID-19 and hosting such large tournaments.

“The idea of having two courts, four communities there at a time, and then rotating four more communities right on top of them for the next match, were some of the concerns expressed,” Webber said.

Viggiano helped lead the Ravens to a state title in 2019 and runner-up in 2018.

After having no tournament last year, she’s just glad teams will have that chance once again.

“Although it is disappointing it won’t be the final eight, I am glad that at least four teams will be able to compete and somebody will get to walk away with a blue trophy because it’s a special moment that you’ll never forget,” Viggiano added.

▶️ ‘More than just a song’: Mountain View players honor national anthem

The national anthem means different things to different people.

For a group of Mountain View High School football players, it’s more than just a song, and this became clear at a recent game against South Salem. 

“Once we started warming up, we went back into the locker room after we were done, and actually while we were in in the locker room they started playing the national anthem and we weren’t out there, and I don’t even know if South Salem was out there,” said Mountain View senior Cameron Smith.

The players missed the Star-Spangled Banner, an important moment of the pre-game ritual, and their disappointment was obvious to head football coach Brian Crum.

“I just said ‘hey guys, the flags down there’ and I turned around, a minute later they were standing on the line with their hands over their hearts,” Crum said.

“We just started singing the national anthem because we thought we just wanted to support our country, you know,” Smith said.

Five seniors decided to sing on their own.

“It was kind of just a collective thing, we weren’t sure if anyone else would join in,” Smith added.

“It’s always been important to our kids, you know,” Crum said. “There have been a couple times in the past ten years, where for whatever reason we missed the national anthem and they get upset. I think it is a part of pre-game for them, a part of them getting ready, but it is also a chance to honor their country.

“I thought it was cool, I thought it was a neat way for them to do their own thing and take some ownership of a situation. They weren’t flustered by it, they weren’t upset, but they took that moment and made it their own, which I thought was cool.”

These young athletes did what they felt was right.

“I feel like to us it is more than just a song,” Smith said. “To me it is kind of like, it’s bigger than us, that is what I always feel like before the game.”

▶️ High school sports referee shortage could worsen with pending vaccine deadline

High schools around the state are dealing with major referee shortages and local athletic directors believe things may get worse.

“We had to have football officials from Southern Oregon travel up here and soccer officials from Southern Oregon travel up here just to cover all the games we had going,” said Bend Senior High Athletic Director Lowell Norby.

“So far between JV and varsity we’ve had to reschedule at least a dozen,” said Ridgeview Athletic Director Sam Platt.

Oregon School Activities Association Executive Director Peter Weber says there is a 10-30% statewide drop.

“We’ve seen a steady decline over the last 10 years or so, just kind of a slow and steady decline, but then when the pandemic hit last year, we had the truncated seasons, we saw a bigger decline,” Weber said.

 The numbers could keep dropping as officials are required to be vaccinated by October 18th.

“The unknown right now is how winter sports are going to be impacted,” Platt said.

“We’ve been told in wrestling there is only one official who is vaccinated for all of Central Oregon,” Norby said. “So this is a big issue right now.”

It puts athletic directors and referees in a tough position.

“We don’t know what we are going to do,” Norby said. “We are just going to have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”

In the meantime, Platt says athletes and spectators should give the zebras some grace.

“Every one of our referees is scheduled every night and that takes a toll on people,” Platt said. “So, when you are at sporting events, be patient, be kind and just recognize we are here and we are really happy to have games and really grateful that those officials are on the field so that we can do that.”

The OSAA is looking to hire new officials.

▶️ A Storm brewing: Summit boys soccer eyeing state championship

One team, one objective, one thing on their mind.

“State championship,” said Summit senior boys soccer player Alex Grignon. “That’s all we got our eyes on.”

“I think we have a really good shot at winning State,” said Summit senior soccer player Nathaniel Deperro.

“State championship is the goal,” said head coach Joe Lacascio.

There’s a Storm brewing and it’s heading towards a title.

After defeating the Ridgeview Ravens 8-1 Tuesday night, the Storm moved to 4-0 on the season.

“This is a good team. I have played on good teams before, but this is a really tight team and the individual talent is there and it shows on the field that we know each other so well,” Grignon said. “The chemistry goes a long way, and this is a special team, we have a really good shot this year.”

Deperro and Grignon were underclassmen on the team when the Storm lost back-to-back state championship games.

“It’s in the back of your mind at all times,” Grignon added. “It just makes you want it more and I think when we win it this year it’s gonna be just sweeter that, losing it two times, coming back, winning it my senior year. There is nothing better than that.”

The team will look to improve under first-year head coach Lacascio.

“There are so many small details that go into this sport, that a couple go wrong, the day doesn’t go your way. So, for me, how can I help a group of boys define the details, and how can we work on those details every week,” Lacascio said.

“Our goal is to just play our soccer our way, win, play as a team and not individuals and go as far as we can,” said Deperro.

Summit takes on the White Buffalos next Thursday in Madras, starting at 5:30 p.m..

▶️ BLS approves return of vaccinated student athletes after COVID exposures

Positive COVID cases within the Mountain View and Bend High football programs are causing ripple effects into their barely started season.

A jamboree in Redmond has already been canceled and their first game might be at risk.

“We were notified this weekend that we had positive COVID cases with three players on the team,” said Bend High head football coach Matt Craven.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the district notified Deschutes County Health Department and their recommendation was to shutdown the program for two weeks of quarantine.”

After multiple meetings and reviews, that recommendation changed.

“If there is an exposure, asymptomatic vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine and those who are not vaccinated do need to quarantine,” Craven added.

The decision was made by the Bend-La Pine School district.

“Per our plans, which are informed by local, state and federal guidance, fully vaccinated, asymptomatic players and coaching staff are allowed to continue to practice,” said Bend-La Pine Schools’ Director of Safety and Communication Julianne Repman.

“These players and coaches must declare vaccine status, which will be verified with a state database.

“Additionally, athletes who have tested positive for COVID within the last 90 days do not need to quarantine as long as they are asymptomatic. The diagnosis will be verified with the health department.”

Athletes had to show their vaccination cards to the school district for review Tuesday morning.

Those players can practice as soon as vaccination status is confirmed, but unvaccinated players have to remain quarantined until August 24.

Of the 70 current Bend High football players, Craven says only a little less than half are vaccinated.

“We knew we were going to have to overcome big issues, and I think this is the first big issue the district has had to face with this delta variant and there is definitely going to be more difficult decisions down the road,” Craven said.

The Mountain View football program had two players test positive for COVID-19, and head coach Brian Crum is taking a different approach, holding optional film sessions and practices.

“We’ve got families and players in all types of different situations and people feel strongly one way or another and so we are trying to create a balance of what that is,” Crum said.

“We are trying to make sure we can meet the players where they are. Let them make their decisions with their families.”

Right now, both coaches feel optimistic that their players will have enough required practices to compete in their first game.

“We are not the first team dealing with this and we are definitely not the last team that is going to have to deal with this,” Craven said.

The Bend Lava Bears have their season opener scheduled for September 3, at home against Grants Pass.

The Mountain View Cougars start their season on the road against Century.

Both games start at 7 p.m.

▶️ While fall sports ramp up, COVID keeps Jefferson Co. volleyball on sidelines

By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

If she’s lucky, Culver High junior Lindsey Lamb will get to play just a handful of volleyball games this year.

“I think me and just like the other people here and other players on the team are angry and frustrated with it,” Lamb said of the current situation for athletes at her school. 

High school sports are ramping up across Central Oregon with athletes in traditional fall sports ready to get into the game.

But a mishmash of COVID restrictions tied to a county’s virus transmission level led to some inequities across different sports.

Cross country, soccer, football and volleyball are currently allowed for Deschutes and Crook counties, which this week both moved to the ‘high risk’ level. 

Jefferson County remains at ‘extreme risk’, but Madras and Culver High schools can still play full-contact, full-gear football games.

Volleyball players are still stuck on the sidelines, though, because the sport isn’t allowed in ‘extreme risk’ counties.

“It’s really disappointing that other sports can play but not volleyball,” Lamb said.

If Jefferson County doesn’t move to ‘high risk’ on March 9, there will be no volleyball season.

Lamb’s boyfriend plays football for Culver High.

They have five games scheduled this year.

“I couldn’t really put it together because football is even more of a contact sport,” Lamb added.

Madras High School Athletic Director Mark Stewart says his volleyball players are also disheartened.

“The belief is with indoor sports you can contract COVID more easily and with outdoor sports you can’t,” Stewart said.

Madras and Culver students are back to in-person learning, full-time.

“It’s really hard to explain to the girls and the community how we can be fully in school and all other sports are able to play, but volleyball can’t,” Stewart added.

Students even take part in indoor gym classes.

“We have 23 kids in a PE class right now, but we can’t play volleyball,” Stewart said. “Things just don’t match up with school metrics and county metrics.”

Madras High senior Hannah Holliday was looking forward to this volleyball season.

“I was planning on playing my senior season,” Holliday said, “One last season, but things just didn’t go our way.”

Holliday didn’t want to wait for a season that might never come, so she’s switching to soccer.

“Just ’cause they are able to compete and I really want to compete my senior season,” she said. “I thought if I can’t compete in volleyball, I will go play on another team and compete in soccer.”

March 1 is the competition start date for Oregon high schools.

Century 21 Relentless Player of the Game: Caleb Arnold

Scoring from the arc, inside the paint and at the free throw line, Caleb Arnold tallied a game-high 25 points to help Crook County High School claim the co-championship of the Intermountain Conference with a 63-59 triumph over host Redmond in the regular season finale for both boys’ squads Tuesday evening.

For his contributions, the senior earned Century 21 Relentless Player of the Game honors.