LA GRANDE — Though the final score didn’t reflect a victory for the West team, Eddyville Charter head football coach Abe Silvonen said he couldn’t have asked for a better experience for himself, or more importantly, for recently graduated Eddyville seniors Wayne Nephew III and Payton Rockmore and recent Siletz Valley graduate Chris Bayya, last Saturday at the inaugural East/West 1A, 6-player all-star game at Eastern Oregon University.
“Honestly, it was like a fairytale, an honest-to-god fairytale for those kids and the coaching staff,” Silvonen told News-Times staff on Monday morning.
According to Silvonen, though the West team he coached along with Eddyville assistant Mark Elkins managed to bottle up Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler game-breaking running back Clint Rutherford from the East, the West team fell 27-19.
“That Rutherford guy is just a beast, and we shut him down,” Silvonen said. “I think that all of their TDs came from pass plays.”
After the West took a lead into the second quarter, Silvonen took his foot off the gas and called for some misdirection, trick-style plays that he said allowed the East to gain equal footing.
“It was such a cool game, and the teams were very evenly matched,” Silvonen said. “I’m very proud of our boys for how they performed.”
He added that the week of practices and life in the EOU dorms the five days leading up to the game began with players sticking to those they knew previously. However, by Tuesday, players and coaches comingled and enjoyed the camaraderie that developed and continued to do so throughout the week.
“Just the whole week, the overall hospitality, the kindness and generosity we experienced, I hate to say it, but I can’t say that’s something I witness a whole lot on the west side (of the state),” Silvonen said. “It was such a great experience that I’m all in for helping organize this for next year so we can start earlier, and get more kids involved.”