Baker scored first, but the Bulldogs couldn’t maintain their momentum in a 32-14 loss in a nonleague football game against North Bend on Saturday, March 13.
The game, in deference to the distance between the two schools — more than 500 miles — was played at Crook County High School in Prineville.
Baker coach Jason Ramos said the Bulldogs focused in practice on fixing the problems they identified from watching video of the 21-12 loss at Vale in the season-opening game March 5.
“We were working on ourselves, and the mistakes that we saw after watching the Vale game, and we were just really focusing on the kids getting better at their jobs,” Ramos said.
With senior quarterback Kaden Myer suffering a shoulder injury against Vale, Ramos decided to give freshman Paul Hobson the start behind center, allowing senior Gabe Gambleton to line up in the slot.
Hobson and Gambleton shared quarterback duties after Myer’s injury against Vale.
“We really needed to utilize Gabe in his slot position, which allows him to utilize his skills as a receiver and a runner,” Ramos said. “Getting some varsity experience for Paul moving forward into this short season, both of those things factored into our decision to go that direction.”
Ramos’ decision yielded results early on against Class 5A North Bend.
Gambleton broke loose for a 20-yard touchdown run that gave Baker a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.
“It was a great run,” Ramos said. “We tried to utilize him (Gambleton) in different ways in the backfield and let him impact the football, he made a great play and it was nice to get on the board first.”
North Bend responded later on in the first quarter with a 47-yard touchdown run from senior Jake Posey. A two-point conversion (North Bend’s kicker wasn’t available) gave the (other) Bulldogs the lead at 8-7.
Baker regained the lead midway through the second quarter on an outstanding individual defensive play by senior lineman Zander Arriaga. On an option play by North Bend, Arriaga swatted the ball into the end zone, where he jumped on the loose ball for the touchdown. Baker led 14-8.
“That was just a great play by Zander, he played the option well, swatting down that ball and went and got it,” Ramos said.
North Bend responded again, though, scoring late in the quarter on senior Liam Bukarud’s 4-yard touchdown catch. The two-point try failed, and the score was tied at 14 at halftime.
Ramos said one goal in the second half was to cut down on penalties. There were 18 flags in the first half between the two teams.
“We talked about how we needed to clean things up and execute, and not be sloppy because everyone knew that those were causing us to struggle offensively,” Ramos said.
North Bend’s ground game began to shine in the second half, yielding three touchdowns, starting with Craig Edera’s scamper to give North Bend the lead for good.
Senior Coleman Compton added a 1-yard touchdown run later in the third quarter, and Posey had a second score in the fourth quarter.
Baker struggled offensively in the second half.
Ramos said that although Hobson was frustrated by five interceptions, he continues to encourage the freshman signal caller, who Ramos said has great potential.
“We knew it was going to be a process for him, and we are going to have to kind of ride out some mistakes on some of those things,” Ramos said. “So yeah, we are encouraging him, he made some good throws, made some good decisions, and had some that weren’t so good, but that’s part of his journey through this shortened season, that learning process.”
Baker, which dropped to 0-2 in this shortened season, now prepares for its first game at Baker Bulldog Memorial Stadium since Oct. 18, 2019. The Bulldogs will play host to Nyssa this Friday, March 19, at 7 p.m.
“We are still working through getting better, and just doing our jobs better within our schemes, we are going to have a good week of practice, we are going to continue to work on things, we are going to learn from film, we are going to try and correct those mistakes we are still seeing, and that’s all we can do right now is just work on ourselves and get ourselves better,” Ramos said. “We kind of know what Nyssa is going to be doing, we will have film on them and we will have a good week of preparation.”
Baker’s only other home game is scheduled for Friday, March 26 against Ontario, also at 7 p.m.
Buell Gonzales Jr., the Baker School District’s athletic director, said there will be three to four groups of spectators allowed, 150 people per group, one for the visiting team and two or three for Baker. Each player will have an allotment of tickets, and additional fans likely will be allowed.