Young Culver football team will need to grow up quickly
Culver High School football is ready to take the gridiron once again, as the team's fall schedule has been released. When the Bulldogs take the field this year, they will do so with a team made up of mostly underclassmen.
"We're hoping for more upperclassmen," said Culver head coach Brian Silbernagel. "But we're looking good so far."
The Bulldogs' roster currently sits at 27 players, but Silbernagel believes that number will grow in the coming days. As it stands, the team has just one senior player, along with three juniors. That means Culver's young players will need to develop quickly if the team is going to see success this year.
The lone senior on the team, Gabe Wilson, will make the change from quarterback to running back in his final season while also playing strong side linebacker.
"It's weird being the only senior," said Wilson, "but I'm super excited for the whole season. I really enjoy playing running back. It's a lot of fun."
Taking over under center is junior Logan Macy, who said during practice that he feels "pretty confident" going into the season. Macy will play free safety in the 3-5 defense being run by Silbernagel and defensive coordinator (and CHS principal) Josh Davis.
The other two juniors on the Bulldog roster, Keegan Lambries and Peter Miranda, are two of the team's biggest players and will help anchor both the offensive and defensive lines this season. As elder statesmen on the team, they will also be counted on to provide an example for the younger players.
As for the official regular season, those games will begin on Sept. 3, with the varsity team playing exclusively on Fridays, while the JV team has most of its games on Mondays. Unless otherwise noted, all varsity games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., while all JV games will kick off at 4 p.m.
The Bulldogs' varsity team has its first real test on Friday, Sept. 3, in a road matchup against Weston-McEwen (2A), while the JV squad will get started on the following Tuesday, Sept. 7, with a trip to Bend to take on the freshman team from Caldera (6A) in a game that starts at 6:30 p.m. Later that week, on Friday, Sept. 10, the varsity boys will take on Stanfield (2A) at home. The non-league season wraps up for both Bulldog teams with games against Warrenton on a neutral field at Kennedy High School. The JV team will play the Warriors at KHS on Monday, Sept. 13, while the varsity teams from each school will go at it on Friday, Sept. 17.
With those non-league matchups out of the way, Culver will pivot into its 2A Tri-River Conference schedule, beginning with games against Santiam. The JV boys will play the Wolverines on the road on Monday, Sept. 20, while the varsity showdown takes place on Friday, Sept. 24.
Last season, the varsity game between the Bulldogs and Wolverines ended in controversy. Trailing 8-0, Santiam walked off the field during the third quarter of the game, with their district superintendent Todd Miller later accusing Culver of a "lack of enforcement of COVID protocols and mask wearing," according to a KATU report.
After the walkout, former CHS head coach Shea Little told the Pioneer that he was "really frustrated" and "heartbroken" about how that game ended, adding that a meeting with the OSAA found no wrongdoing on Culver's part. Still, the state does not officially recognize the Bulldogs' victory, so Culver's only triumph during the shortened spring season does not appear in the win-loss column.
Further down the docket, the next league opponent for Culver will be Salem Academy. Again, the JV team will take its show on the road to play on Monday, Sept. 27, while the varsity team hosts the Crusaders on Friday, Oct. 1. After that, the JV players finally get a chance to star under the home lights, when they take on Gervais on Monday, Oct. 4, at Culver High School. On Friday, Oct. 7, the varsity team makes their first road trip of the Tri-River season, taking on the Cougars in Gervais.
Despite it being Homecoming week, the JV players will head to Colton to battle with the Vikings on Monday, Oct. 11. The varsity team's Homecoming game will be played against Colton on Friday, Oct. 15, and will be the final home game of the regular season for Culver's varsity squad.
There is more to that game for the Bulldogs than just a homecoming dance, though.
When asked which league game they were most looking forward to playing this year, all three juniors gave the same answer: Colton.
"Last year, we let the game slip out of our hands," said Macy, referring to the team's 20-14 defeat to the Vikings.
"So you know we're looking for revenge this year," added Miranda with a laugh.
The JV team finishes out its regular season with home games against Kennedy (Oct. 18) and Regis (Oct. 25), while the varsity players have corresponding away contests with the Trojans and Rams on Oct. 22 and Oct. 29, respectively.
The OSAA State Playoffs begin on Nov. 5, and the 2A State Championship will be held on Saturday, Nov. 27.
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