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2007: What a year

by: Photo By Gary Lindberg - Culver fullback Austin Alley dives into the end zone at Pilot Rock to give the Bulldogs a 7-3 lead in the 2A quarterfinal game. Culver went on the win the 2A state title, one of Jefferson County's top 10 sports stories of 2007.


   For the Jefferson County sports scene
   A storybook major leaguer, a rodeo world champion, two team state champions, four individual state champions and controversy - this was the area's most memorable year eve
   1. Jacoby, Jacobyr.
   Madras native Jacoby Ellsbury hit .452 at AA Portland.
   He was sent to AAA Pawtucket in May. Ellsbury was called up to Boston on June 30 to make his Major League debut that day. He played in six games, hitting .375.
   In September, Ellsbury was back in Boston. He hit .361 in 26 games. The American League named Ellsbury the rookie of the month.
   Ellsbury played in the first two rounds of the playoffs, then started all four games of the World Series as the Red Sox swept Colorado. He stole the first base in the series, giving Americans a free taco.
   Ellsbury hit .438 during the Series. He led off the decisive fourth game with a double and scored a run.
   In celebration, Madras had a parade for him.
   2. Bulldogs are No. 1
   Culver returned a majority of its starters from a 2006 semifinal team plus moved Nevin Lewis to quarterback. The Bulldogs went 4-1 in nonleague games and 5-0 the Tri-River.
   In the 2A playoffs, Culver avenged last season's semifinal loss by beating Bonanza 23-6. Then the drama started.
   Culver won at Pilot Rock 7-3 with Austin Alley scoring the only touchdown (right). The Bulldogs used big defensive plays to beat Lost River in the semifinals and then Heppner in the championship game.
   "Good teams find ways to win," said Bulldog coach Kurt Davis of the playoff run.
   3. Mote's ride to world title
   Culver resident Bobby Mote spent nearly all of 2007 in pursuit of his second world bareback title while competing in the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association.
   Mote won the 2002 title and had a strong showing at the National Finals Rodeo to take second last year. In March, Mote won the Rodeo Houston title worth $50,000. He kept winning, including a first at Prineville's Crooked River Roundup in late June (right). That was one of more than 60 rodeos Mote competed in this year.
   The long season finished with the NFR in Las Vegas, Nev., earlier this month. Mote entered with a lead of $50,000 and added $55,000 to win the world title. Mote finished the year with $207,183.
   4. The MHS AD is....
   Finding a replacement for retiring Madras High athletic director Margaret Sturza turned out to be a long, controversial process.
   Longtime Madras boys' basketball coach Evan Brown expressed his intention to apply for the position. During the hiring process, superintendent Guy Fisher added an assistant principal requirement to the position, Thus, Brown was not among those interviewed.
   Fisher's choice as the new AD was not approved by the Jefferson County 509-J board of directors in early April. That led to Fisher resigning.
   The AD position was opened and then closed due to a budget shortfall. Administrator Steve Johnson was hired as the interim AD. Johnson's previous experience in 16 years with the district included being an assistant principal at MHS, two principalships and an administrative position.
   5. Buff coaches are going and coming
   It started with Evan Brown seeking a leave of absence to obtain his administrative credentials.
   Then the Madras head coaches for baseball (Kevin Cave), girls' golf (Derek Barnhurst), track (Mike Dove) and cross country (Lonnie Henderson) all resigned for various reasons. Several assistant coaches also resigned.
   Thus, interim athletic director Steve Johnson had to fill 13 coaching openings.
   The hirings started with Donnie Alire, for the cross country job plus assistants in football, boys' soccer and volleyball.
   Longtime assistant basketball coach Allen Hair moved up to the head job, joined by two new assistants. Filling five spring jobs is in the works.
   6. CHS pins down title
   After finishing second four of the previous five seasons, Culver won its first 2A/1A state wrestling title.
   The Bulldogs sent 13 to state, 10 district champions. Culver scored 155.5 points, to win by more than 80 points.
   Culver went 10-3 in that first round to take early control of the tourney. Six eventually made the finals with Jake Nelson (103 pounds), Miguel Baltazar (125) and Levi Roberts (145) winning state titles. It was Baltazar's third state title.
   Mike Williams (119), Jeremy Thompson (130) and Tyler Warren (152), were all second. Gerald Speas (140) and Austin Alley (171) finished third with Jared Schehen (135) fourth.
   7. Buff basketball scores, scores, scores
   Madras' up-tempo style was successful at the 5A level. The Buffs rely on running, shooting 3-pointers and a full-court press.
   Madras led the entire state in scoring at 82.4 points a game, helped by 349 3-pointers.
   In the Intermountain Conference, the Buffs finished tied for second. The highlight was beating IMC champ Mountain View in its own gym.
   Sadly, the season ended in a home playoff game (losing 92-87 to Crater).
   That game might be the last in Evan Brown's 15-year coaching career with a 255-125 record (22-19 in state playoffs).
   8. What a May for MHS baseball
   When May started, Madras baseball was sixth in the IMC at 5-6, out of the playoff race.
   The Buffs went on to win three straight IMC games. A victory at league champ Summit on their field was part of that streak.
   In the 5A state opener at Willamette, Madras won 5-1 in 10 innings. The journey stopped with a 8-5 loss at Corvallis.
   IMC coaches voted catcher/pitcher Jake Prow the player of the year and Kevin Cave coach of the year.
   9. Heartbreak for Buff wrestlers
   Both Cameron Rosenfield (135) and Jeremy DuPont (145) were seeded No. 1 entering the 5A state tourney.
   Rosenfield fell in the quarterfinals and eventually finished fifth with a 33-5 season record.
   DuPont (right, on top) rolled into the title match with two major decisions and a pin. He faced Jess Cruise of Crook County in the finals whom he beat on twice in the past two weeks.
   DuPont led 7-3 going into the third period, but was pinned.
   10. Bri's up and away
   Briana Stacona led Madras in scoring (12.5 points a game), earning IMC second-team honors.
   In track, the junior qualified for 5A state in the high and long jumps. Stacona finished fifth in the high jump (after setting the school record at 5 feet, 5 inches). She was second in the long jump (with a school record 17-2 3/4).
   This fall, Stacona was crowned the MHS homecoming queen at the final football game. Stacona transferred to Hermiston less than two weeks later.
   Stacona is a first cousin of Hermiston star Shoni Shimmel, the IMC's player of the year. Stacona didn't practice with the defending IMC champions for several weeks, but made her debut in a Dec. 5 game and scored 13 points in a three-point win at Walla Walla.