The Hermiston Bulldogs will open the 2018 high school football season on Friday as defending champs, yet won’t have anything to defend.
The Bulldogs of Hermiston will face the Bulldogs of Pasco in the opening game of the season and the first for Hermiston in the Mid-Columbia Conference (MCC). Hermiston left the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) and Oregon’s Class 5A Special District 1 conference this year after winning the Oregon 5A state title last November. The Bulldogs cited excessive travel for wanting to join the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Mid-Columbia Conference.
Had Hermiston remained part of the Oregon School Activities Association, their likely schedule would have resulted in average travel of 404 miles roundtrip for each game in conference play, resulting in 12-14 days of lost instruction per season for each athlete. By way of contrast, Hermiston is only 57 miles away from its furthest regular competitor (Walla Walla High School) in the Mid-Columbia Conference. Average roundtrip travel in the MCC will be approximately 80 miles and lost instructional time reduced to several hours each season.
On Friday, Hermiston, coming off an 11-2 season and state title, will face Pasco, coming off an 0-10 season a year ago.
Led by fourth-year coach David Faaeteete, Hermiston will return senior quarterback Andrew James, who finished sixth in the 5A class with 1,606 yards during the regular season with 19 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. Also returning are senior wide receiver Jordan Ramirez, junior linebacker Chase Bradshaw, junior linebacker and defensive lineman Sean Stewart, and senior center and defensive lineman Jacob Liebe.
The Bulldogs will face their first major test of the season in week 2 when they travel to Richland to face the Bombers, who finished the 2017 season 14-0 on their way to the state title.
Friday’s game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Kennison Field in Hermiston.