Bulldogs open with four non-league games; first CBC contest is Sept. 29 against Stanfield.

PIONEER FILE PHOTO - Culver will be in search of new leaders to emerge on both sides of the ball, but with players such as Victor Torres, seen here tackling a Vernonia ball-carrier on Sept. 23, 2016, the Bulldogs appear to be in good hands.
Moratorium week has descended upon Oregon high school sports, marking the last true down period of the offseason before fall sports practices begin in early August.

The week is an annual landmark in the OSAA, in which high school athletes and coaches are prohibited from making contact with one another, while school athletic facilities are closed to athletes. Barring any special exceptions, the purpose moratorium week is to give all athletes and coaches time to recharge before the real grind begins.

Now that most teams have locked in their schedules for the fall season, the Pioneer is looking ahead to key matchups and dates for each Jefferson County football squad.

The Culver Bulldogs finished the 2016 season with a 2-6 record, and were forced to begin their season after the opener against Bonanza was canceled as a result of Bonanza lacking enough players to fill a varsity roster.

Instead, they waited one week later than most teams to kick off their season.

They opened with a close, 30-24 defeat at La Pine, before losing on the road to Santiam, 49-21.

This season, the Bulldogs will get a rematch with both teams at home, but first, they will open the season Sept. 1 at Illinois Valley, which went 1-7 last season in the 3A Southern Cascade League.

After facing those three teams, Culver gets another crack at Vernonia on Sept. 22. The Bulldogs picked up their first win of the 2016 season with a 40-8 rout over the Loggers.

Culver will face its toughest test of the season at the beginning of Columbia Basin Conference play — a home date with Stanfield on Sept. 29. Stanfield marched through the 2A state playoffs last season with wins over Central Linn, Santiam and Kennedy, before losing to Regis 53-14 in the state title game.

The Bulldogs wrap up with three CBC games — on the road against Heppner and Pilot Rock/Nixyaawii, and a home finale against Weston-McEwen.

Although Culver's 2-6 record was below its standards, the team had strong leadership from a group of seniors that have since graduated. That senior group included Jaiden Jones, who led the team in carries (209), rushing yards (1,538) and touchdowns (15) all by a wide margin, and leading tackler Mack Little, who tallied 38 stops from his linebacker position.

Through the wins and losses, coaches lauded that senior class for creating a fun, family vibe. But now that Jesus Retano has taken on a head-coaching role, he wants to take that family atmosphere a step further.

2017 Culver football schedule

Sept. 1: Culver at Illinois Valley, 7 p.m.

Sept. 8: Culver vs. La Pine, 7 p.m.

Sept. 15: Culver vs. Santiam, 7 p.m.

Sept. 22: Culver at Vernonia, 7 p.m.

Sept. 29: Culver vs. Stanfield, 7 p.m.

Oct. 6: Culver vs. Grant Union, 7 p.m.

Oct. 13: Culver at Heppner, 7 p.m.

Oct. 20: Culver at Pilot Rock/Nixyaawii, 7 p.m.

Oct. 27: Culver vs. Weston-McEwen, 7 p.m.

Contact Will Denner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow him on Twitter @MadrasSports, @WillCDenner

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