Injuries and a lack of veteran leadership proved to be the main stumbling blocks for this year's Crook County varsity football team.
>Gridders hurt by loss of too many starters
With only two returning starters, the Cowboys struggled to a 1-7 record in the IMC, 1-8 overall.
Already low on experience, Crook County lost ten starters to injury throughout the course of the season, missing a combined total of 29 games.
"I don't care who you are, anytime that happens, it's going to hurt," said head coach Steve Turner. "It hurt us on the field, but a lot of other kids stepped up and became better players."
The season saw different players step up week after week. While senior quarterback Blaine Tocher proved to be a mainstay behind the center, his targets varied based on availability.
Luke Thompson was the Cowboys' leading rusher during the first few weeks of the season, but went down in the third week.
Brodie Fulton ran into the spotlight in the Pendleton game but was replaced at the end of the season by Brad Wiens. Wiens, who missed the majority of the year, produced 93 offensive yards in the first half of the season finale but left after the intermission with an injury.
The Cowboys started off the year on a high note defeating The Dalles-Wahtonka 12-6, but dropped their last eight after that.
Throughout it all Turner continued to see improvement in his kids.
"You're disappointed when you don't come out on the winning end, but I was really happy with how the kids practiced and prepared," he said. "Their attitudes were awesome."
Crook County will lose 12 seniors to graduation, six of which were on the team for their first year.
"I thought they did a great job of showing kids how to practice hard each day and keep a good attitude," Turner said of the senior class. "We had no 'me' kids. It was a pleasure to be associated with a group of kids who only worried about winning and doing their best."