Improved Culver team looks for first win of the year
Although the Culver football team is still in search of its first win of the season, last Friday's 25-12 loss at Vernonia was a vast improvement from the week prior.
At this point in the season, with league play to begin this week, that's all the Bulldogs and head coach Jesus Retano can hope for.
Vernonia struck first on a 9-yard pitch and catch from Gunnar Harral to Jake Patton. But rather than let up, Culver fought back with a touchdown of its own in the second quarter, on a Victor Torres 6-yard touchdown run.
"For the most part, I believe the kids played well; they played their hearts out," Retano said. "They got tested. When they got scored on ... they came right back and they were still in it. They were motivated. They didn't come out flat."
Torres scored again in the third quarter on a five-yard run, adding to his final line of 150 yards rushing on 31 carries. When Culver is at its best offensively, it usually involves a heavy dose of Torres, who was tasked with replacing a talented all-purpose back from last season in Jaiden Jones.
"He's filling the shoes pretty well," Retano said. "He's giving us another aspect of football ... If we keep running like that, it will make (quarterback) Jorge's (Olivera) job to pass it a lot easier. He's a key part of this offense and we just have to keep him working."
The Bulldogs' run-heavy attack was mostly successful, and most encouraging, they only committed one turnover a week after they gave away the ball seven times against Santiam. That improvement allowed Culver to compete with Vernonia until late in the game.
"I told the kids turnovers were a huge difference when you look at the score," Retano said. "You're not supposed to win a game with seven turnovers, but at least we gave ourselves a better chance this week. I think they will be ready for league."
While Culver's chance at a win didn't come to fruition, the Bulldogs control their own fate as Columbia Basin Conference play begins this week. Culver will play host to Stanfield (0-3), which finished runner-up in last year's 2A state playoffs, but this season, like Culver, is still looking for its first win.
In fact, before the two other CBC teams, Heppner and Weston-McEwen, won last Friday, the four teams had a combined 0-11 record for the season.
For what it's worth, those records indicate that any one of those four teams could claim the league title. The Bulldogs have that mindset, too.
Culver and Stanfield kickoff Friday at 7 p.m.