Crook County looks good offensively in jamboree, struggles in goal line situations

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Hogan Smith goes up in traffic to catch a touchdown pass from Brodie Connell during the Cowboys' scrimmage with Summit during the Redmond Jamboree. Smith also threw a touchdown pass in the scrimmage.The Crook County High School football team saw their first live action other than scrimmages on Friday when they competed in the Redmond Jamboree.

The Cowboys were the lone Class 4A football team at the event, which included 5A and 6A programs from around the state.

Seven teams participated in the event, which was divided into two groups.

The Cowboys were paired with Redmond, Summit, and Pendleton.

"It was good," Crook County head football coach Ryan Cochran said of playing teams from larger schools. "It was important that we had some really good competition across the board. Those guys are all good football teams."

Each team ran eight plays offensive and eight defensive plays against each other, starting at the 45-yard line. Then once that was concluded, they ran four offensive and four defensive plays in a goal line series.

The Cowboys opened the jamboree on defense against the Pendleton Buckaroos.

The Buckaroos drove the ball down the field to inside the 10-yard line, but ran out of plays before they were able to score.

The Cowboys struggled to move the ball initially against the Buckaroos, but after giving the ball up on downs in their first four plays, the team was able to move the ball on their final four offensive plays and scored on the final play of the scrimmage on a 19-yard pass from Brody Connell to Hogan Smith.

Next up for the Cowboys was Summit.

The Storm showed that they have a high-powered offense, scoring twice in their eight plays against the Cowboys.

However, Crook County answered with three touchdowns of their own.

First Connell hit Garett Bernard on a touchdown strike.

Then, Kaden Horton carried the ball around the left side for a 20-yard touchdown run.

Finally, Connell hit Kyle Knudtson on a 45-yard pass. Knudtson caught the ball about 15 yards down the field, then raced down the right sideline the remainder of the way for the easy score.

The Cowboys had more trouble against Redmond. The Panthers showed that they have a stout defense. However, Knudtson did catch a pass and got down to the 10-yard line on their final play from scrimmage.

The Panthers then scored twice in their eight offensive plays against the Cowboys, both times on 45-yard runs.

As good as the Cowboys were in the middle of the field, they struggled during the goal line series against Pendleton.

Pendleton was able to score on a beautiful pass to the corner of the end zone, while the Cowboys were intercepted in the end zone on their final offensive play against the Buckaroos.

Once again, offense prevailed as the Storm took on the Cowboys. Summit scored twice in their four offensive plays.

However, the Cowboys matched the scoring with Knudtson scoring on a run up the middle and Smith scoring on a five-yard run.

Smith hit Ethan Cossett in the end zone for a touchdown on the Cowboys' first play against Redmond in the goal line series. However, the Cowboys were unable to move the ball the remainder of the series.

Redmond answered with a touchdown run on their third play, before the Cowboys recovered a fumble on the final play of the series.

"I'm proud of the effort," Cochran told his team following the jamboree. "I'm proud of you guys busting your tail against teams that aren't part of our league -- teams that are higher. With that being said, we have a lot of work to do if we want to get to where we want to be at the end of the season."

Cochran added that he believes the team has improved a lot since they scrimmaged at their annual Blue & Gold scrimmage the previous Saturday.

"I think we are plugging away," he said. "We have eliminated some of the mistakes we made in the Blue & Gold and we are moving forward day by day. But we still have a long ways to go, especially discipline-wise."

In addition to seeing improvement, Cochran believes that the jamboree was a good opportunity to see exactly what the team's strengths and weaknesses are.

"We got it all filmed and it will be a good evaluation tool for us," he said.

Crook County opens the regular season this Friday, Sept. 7 when they take on the Ridgeview Ravens in a 7 p.m. game at Ward Rhoden Stadium.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.