The Lions and Eagles reversed fortunes on Friday, Sept. 1.
Hood River Valley came to St. Helens hell-bent on snapping its 10-game losing streak that began on Nov. 6, 2015, against the very team that started the Eagles' winless season in last year's 47-13 opener in Hood River.
The Eagles delighted in a 45-7 rout on Friday, in which none of their scoring drives lasted longer than 3 minutes, 11 seconds, and danced, clapped and cheered on the field when the final seconds ticked away at Doc Ackerson Stadium.
Hood River Valley (1-0 overall) played to its biggest win since its 49-14 defeat of visiting Class 6A McKay on Oct. 9, 2015, and St. Helens (0-1) suffered its biggest loss since its 58-26 defeat at Wilsonville on Sept. 18, 2015.
Lions coach Cory Young, who insisted to his players in the postgame huddle that they will get better because that's what they do, stressed the importance of making practice as difficult as possible to prepare for gameday and keeping composure when the score isn't favorable.
Shawn Lee burst nine yards down the right seam for a second-quarter touchdown and a 7-7 tie in the only drive the Lions finished, which spanned 7:45.
"There's always the adrenaline of trying to shake the first [tackler] and running as hard and as far as I can instead of taking a big hit," said Lee, a junior running back who gashed the Eagles up the middle for 100 yards on 13 carries. "The weather was nice, too [despite Friday's outcome]."
Isaiah Bettencourt ran for 77 yards on 12 attempts as he beat Hood River to the edge in the open field.
"I saw my teammates making good blocks, and I couldn't do it without my teammates," said Bettencourt, a junior running back. "We played hard but they played harder, so we need to play harder."
Caleb Carter, a senior lineman and captain, put St. Helens' point-after through the uprights, led two kickoffs and punted once.
"I think our running backs are running a lot harder [than on the first day of practice]," Carter said. "I think the linemen need to be quicker and tougher: The system is there."
Carter said he's been a kicker for years, but this fall is his first call to action.
"It's a good thrill [being a place kicker] because it's all on you," Carter said. "You don't know if the snap's going to get down, and you just hope for the best."
Eagles junior quarterback Caden Leiblein launched a 43-yard touchdown pass down the left seam to sophomore wide receiver Greyson Losee, junior wide receiver Riggs Bardin kicked the point-after and Hood River Valley led 7-0 with 3:34.
Lee ran to pay dirt for a tie with 7:49 to halftime, but the Eagles shut the door from there.
Junior Hood River Valley running back Brandon Rivera's six-yard run put the Eagles up 14-7 with 6:52 to the break, and senior wideout Trenton Hough's leaping catch beneath the center of the goal post answered Leiblein's 21-yard Hail Mary and stripped the wind from St. Helens' sails for a 21-7 lead with two seconds to intermission.
Players and coaches on the Eagles sideline spent the second half in high spirits as junior Bailey Holste's tough runs up the middle collected first downs, and Holste broke loose for a 12-yard score and a 28-7 lead at 8:49.
Bardin's 32-yard field goal increased the lead to 31-7 with 11 seconds left.
Leiblein found junior wide receiver Matthew Tichenor for a 16-yard touchdown as Hood River Valley went up 38-7 with 10:17 left in the final frame, and senior Jason Shaner's two-yard scoring run between the tackles was the final feat in the Eagles' breakthrough with 7:45 to play.
St. Helens' Chase Parkhurst completed four of eight passes for 64 yards, and Dylan Kessinger caught two of Parkhurst's throws for 41 yards.
Leiblein went 9-of-15 for 187 yards, Rivera picked up 116 yards on 13 carries, and junior wideout Brad Long led all receivers with 47 yards on a single catch.
Hood River Valley outgained the Lions 394 yards to 347 yards, but St. Helens lost two fumbles and possessed the ball for 33:12 to Hood River Valley's 14:48.
The Eagles converted both of their fourth downs while the Lions went 1-for-5.
Michael Jones, the Eagles' 6-foot, 180-pound senior running back and offensive focal point, did not play as his ankle injury lingers from last year.
The Lions are scheduled next for the Seven-Mile War at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8 at Class 4A state first-rounder Scappoose.
St. Helens will hope for a repeat after winning the rivalry game 41-27 at home last year.
HOOD RIVER VALLEY 45, ST. HELENS 7
Friday, Sept. 1
at Doc Ackerson Stadium
HRV 7 14 10 14 -- 45
SH 0 7 0 0 -- 7
HRV Greyson Losee 43-yard pass from Connor Leiblein (Riggs Bardin PAT), 3:34
SH Shawn Lee nine-yard run (Caleb Carter PAT), 7:49
HRV Brandon Rivera six-yard run (Bardin PAT), 6:52
HRV Trenton Hough 21-yard pass from Leiblein (Bardin PAT), :02
HRV Bailey Holste 12-yard run (Bardin PAT), 8:49
HRV Bardin 32-yard field goal, :11
HRV Matthew Tichenor 16-yard pass from Leiblein (Bardin PAT), 10:17
HRV Jason Shaner two-yard run (Bardin PAT), 7:45