Of the Baker City Herald

NORTH POWDER If winning football games and advancing through the state playoffs is about legacy and dedication, then the Powder Valley Badgers should have no problem Saturday against semifinal opponent St. Paul.

Running back/end Brody Turner and end/linebacker Riley Martin are both the fourth and final boys in their families who have played football at Powder Valley. Both, first year head coach Alan Stanfield said, are the undisputed senior leaders on the 10-0 Badgers, who are anxious to return to the state championship game against probable opponent and defending Class 1A state champion Dufur.

The Martin legacy includes volunteer assistant coach Curt, a North Powder rancher and farmer who is volunteer coach of the offensive and defensive lines and spends Badger games up in the press box. His headset is connected with that of his son, Drew, a 1996 PVHS graduate who worked while a student at Washington State University as the football teams equipment manager, earning himself a trip to the Rose Bowl in 1997.

Its been a lot of fun working with Dad, and Ive learned a lot, he says. This is a team with a lot of heart, and theyve gotten better as the season progressed. Theyre a very ambitious team.

Drew coaches the defensive backs and receivers the latter a group that includes his youngest brother, Riley, who hauled in two touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Todd Baxter in last weeks 51-6 first-round playoff victory over Condon.

Informally associated with this years Badgers are Casey Martin, a junior at Eastern Oregon University whos studying to become a teacher; and Sam Martin, a sophomore at Treasure Valley Community College and a 2000 East-West Shrine Game performer.

Curts wife, Cheryl, is a big part of the Badger program as well.

Shes the one who will come up to me and tell me Im out of control on the rare occasion when the score of a Badger game is close and anxiety thus runs high, Curt said with a smile. In fact, I had a Powder Valley Athletics shirt made up for her that says Team Psychologist. She loves that team as much as anybody.

That love is evident even upon a casual visit to a team practice. The North Powder School District board voted Tuesday night to permit the team to depart for Hillsboro, the site of Saturdays game, on Thursday, which will allow the squad two practices on Hare Fields artificial turf. The community will send the players off in style with a team breakfast at 7 a.m. Thursday at the high school.

This coming weekend, Curt said, North Powder will be a virtual ghost town because of the large number of people gladly willing to make what they hope is the first of two 700-mile round trips to Hillsboro.

Curt laughingly says hes the old sage among the coaching staff, with Stanfield, Drew Martin and assistant coach Mark Boothby all in their early or mid-20s.

Those guys all have the respect of the players, but theyre young enough that they can communicate with them, Curt said. This is the most attentive group I've had in my five years here. We as coaches have to lift ourselves up to match the ability of these kids.

That ability and a persistent work ethic, he said, were implanted in many of the Badgers 27 players growing up on a farm or ranch operation.

That kind of life obviously makes a player tough mentally and physically, Curt said. I dont want to take anything away from a kid who didnt have that upbringing, but theres something to be said for that lifestyle. All their lives theyve heard, Dont come back until the job is done.

He said that although it may sound hokey, this season its been a real privilege being with these guys. Working with them is a great break from ranching. Its strictly voluntary, but I wouldnt trade it. It lightens up my life.