By Gerry Steele
Can you say "three-peat?"
The Baker Bulldogs' football team can.
The Bulldogs earned their third straight Greater Oregon League championship Friday by edging Ontario 19-13 on Homecoming on the rain-soaked turf at Bulldog Memorial Stadium.
Baker (2-0 in the GOL this season) overcame the Tigers, the wet conditions and numerous penalties to claim the title.
"It certainly was a great opportunity to show some character," said Baker coach Dave Johnson.
"I thought the kids did a great job of doing that. And, we talked at length about that after the game."
The league championship was not only Baker's third in a row, but also the Bulldogs' fifth in seven years. Baker won the GOL crown in 2006, 2008 and now 2010 through 2012.
Johnson said the Bulldogs are just as proud of their GOL winning streak as they are the titles.
Baker has won nine straight GOL games since Game 2 of the 2009 season. The Bulldogs are 17-3 in GOL games since 2006.
The last GOL team to defeat the Bulldogs was Ontario 28-20 in Game 2 of the league season in 2009. Since that time Baker has defeated the Tigers four consecutive times.
Friday's game turned into a defensive struggle for both teams.
"I thought overall we performed fine," Johnson said.
"Defensively, we played very well. Offensively, we have to come back to square one and clean up some things.
"Defense wins games; wins championships," Johnson said.
Ontario quarterback Trampis Waite was under Baker pressure all evening, especially from the Bulldogs line.
"We got some really good punch on a consistant basis from the front guys," Johnson said.
"It's kind of funny that when we do exactly what our scheme says good things happen."
The teams traded turnovers early in the first quarter.
Ontario then scored first when Jake Lande bulled around right end for a 1-yard touchdown. The conversion kick was good and Ontario led 7-0 with 2:49 left in the first quarter.
Baker knotted the game at 7-7 with 8:15 left in the first half. But not without some extra effort.
The Bulldogs moved the ball from midfield to the Ontario 2. Then, a motion penalty moved the ball back to the 7.
Quarterback Braden Phillips got 6 of those yards back, only to have another motion penalty leave the ball on the Ontario 6 on fourth down.
Phillips then rolled right on an option play and scored the tying touchdown. Trent Taylor added the conversion kick.
The score remained 7-7 at halftime.
Baker took a 13-7 edge midway through the third period.
Taylor did the honors on a 33-yard scoring run.
On the play, Taylor busted up the middle, stopped, looked left, then followed the blocks of receivers Darren Dolby and Dane Bachman downfield to the end zone.
The conversion failed leaving Baker up 13-7 with 5:48 left in the quarter.
Ontario tied the game again with 1:01 left in the period when Waite connected with speedster Joseph Delgado on a 55-yard TD play.
Ontario's conversion kick also failed leaving the score tied at 13-13.
Baker then mounted the winning drive, an 80-yard, 14-play series that took 6:33 off the clock.
Taylor scored the touchdown, a 1-yard romp, with 6:28 left in the game.
The try for two-points on the conversion failed leaving Baker with a 6-point lead.
Ontario, without its top weapon in Delgado who was injured celebrating after the 55-yard TD, couldn't muster another threat in the rain.
Taylor led Baker with 121 yards on 28 carries. The Bulldogs finished with 262 yards on offense while limiting Ontario to just 174.
The win also sets up Baker going into the post season.
The Bulldogs finish their GOL season Friday at La Grande, then have a week off to start the playoffs.
"We're a little dinged up right now," Johnson said.
"We had some minor dings in practice and had several guys playing out of position against Ontario. It's a real credit to our backups.
"We're not going to look past La Grande, but we have to get guys healed up," Johnson said.
"We'll work on some things this week and see how guys do. It will probably be a game-time decision as to how much, or if, some guys play."
Following the La Grande game, Baker as league champion draws a bye the first week of the playoffs. The Bulldogs then will host a first-round Class 4A game Nov. 9 or 10.
Ontario -7 0 6 0 - 13
Baker - 0 7 6 6 - 19
O - Lande 1 run (Haueter kick)
B - Phillips 6 run (Taylor kick)
B - Taylor 33 run (Kick failed)
O - Delgado 55 pass from Waite (Kick failed)
B - Taylor 1 run (Run failed)
Rushing - Ontario: Lande 19-72, Delgado 1-13, Poston 1-(-1), Maeda 1-(-4), Waite 8-(-28). Baker: Taylor 28-121, Cline 3-23, Phillips 12-15, Baxter 2-10.
Passing - Ontario: Waite 8-19-2-148. Baker: Phillips 4-13-0-93.
Receiving - Ontario: Delgado 7-127, Turner 1-21. Baker: Dolby 2-39, Bachman 1-38, Stinson 1-16.