Baker Bulldogs: State champs x2

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board December 07, 2012 10:02 am

As the curiously named 1970s singer Meat Loaf once opined, “two out of three ain’t bad.”

When applied to winning state football championships, though, that achievement is rather better than “ain’t bad.”

The Baker Bulldogs pulled off that rare feat on Saturday by beating North Bend 52-22 in the Class 4A state title game at Hillsboro Stadium.

Baker players also brought home the championship trophy in 2010.

And the Bulldogs advanced to the final game in 2009, losing that year to Marist of Eugene, a private school that now competes in the Class 5A division for schools with larger enrollments.

To sum up, then, the dynasty assembled by Head Coach Dave Johnson, his assistants, and the dozens of student-athletes they’ve mentored over the past four years includes berths in three title games, and two state championships.

That’s a run not matched around here since the Huntington Locomotives were running roughshod in Oregon’s eight-man football division, winning four consecutive state championships from 1968 to 1971.

The Bulldogs’ sustained success is all the more impressive because, as with any high school or college team, it has of necessity been accomplished with a changing roster of players.

Many high schools have won a single title by relying heavily on one class with unusual athletic talent. In some cases even two or three transcendent players can lead a team to a magical season.

But remaining in the top echelon for four straight years requires multiple classes to perform at a high level.

Football, of course, is only a sport. 

It’s not as important as what happens in the classroom. But it is important.

And in a small town such as Baker City, the success of the football team creates a pleasing atmosphere of camaraderie that can be seen in purple-and-gold posters, and in the many businesses that have posted congratulatory messages on the signs where they normally advertise their latest deal.

We can still argue about the Ducks and Beavers and Broncos, or whether we’re obligated, as Oregonians, to root for the Trail Blazers.

But when it comes to high school football, in Baker City there are only the Bulldogs. And their performance is something we should all be proud of.