Under the bright lights of Baker Bulldog Memorial Stadium Friday night, Sept. 17, Baker was unable to keep up with the undefeated Weiser Wolverines.
Weiser (4-0) raced to a 21-0 lead after one quarter and rolled to a 48-12 win over the Bulldogs.
Baker, whose three opponents have a combined record of 11-0, fell to 0-3 after a season-opening loss to Cascade and a loss at Homedale, Idaho, on Sept. 11.
Baker coach Jason Ramos said he had confidence going into Friday’s game, as the team had a strong week of practice.
“We just felt like we needed to achieve a new level of physicality, we challenged our guys to bring it more in practice,” Ramos said. “We had two really good practices at the end of the week this week, Wednesday and Thursday.”
Ramos said Baker’s inability to get its running game going was a glaring problem in the first quarter as Weiser scored three times and forced Baker to punt on each of its possessions.
The Bulldogs finished with 112 rushing yards.
“We are just struggling inside with that, we were a little outmatched with that,” Ramos said. “We have to do better up front, we got to get Gauge (Bloomer) going.”
The Bulldogs have struggled to open holes for Bloomer, Baker’s top running back and a senior leader.
Baker’s defense tightened in the second quarter, holding Weiser to a late field goal.
On offense, meanwhile, the Bulldogs had their best scoring chance after sophomore Malaki Myer returned a punt for more than 30 yards. Baker then marched inside the 10, but were unable to get into the end zone.
Weiser led 24-0 at halftime.
“We knew we were getting the ball back in the second half, so we were saying, let’s come out and put it together like we did, let’s get a score on the board and let’s get a stop,” Ramos said.
But it was Weiser that struck first in the third quarter, scoring in the first two minutes to extend its lead to 31-0.
Baker then got on the scoreboard.
Myer intercepted a Weiser pass, and later caught the first of his two touchdown passes from fellow sophomore Paul Hobson.
Myer finished with eight catches for 140 yards.
“We know what Malaki can do, he’s a great athlete and he can get behind guys and we can just get him the ball so he can make plays, so that’s what we were trying to do,” Ramos said.
Hobson also had a stronger second half. He ended up 13 for 24 passing for 168 yards, with the two scoring tosses to Myer, and a pair of interceptions.
Ramos said his younger quarterback continues to improve.
“We know he has potential, we just have to work with that,” Ramos said. “Both (Myer and Hobson) are sophomores, are still growing and learning as a part of their process,” Ramos said.
Although Baker was able to prevent the shutout, the Wolverines had a strong fourth quarter with a pair of touchdowns and a field goal for the final margin.
Ramos said that despite the loss, he saw a lot of positive things as Baker prepares to start its league schedule.
“We had to overcome adversity this week, with losing kids (to injuries) and our third really tough game in a row and we talked about it the whole time,” Ramos said. “This is a challenge for us and we will find out what we are made of ... I think we will get better from here.”
Bloomer had a strong second half and ended up with 108 yards on 26 carries.
Tate Powell had three receptions, and Dash Bloomer, Dylon Freeman and Drake Harper each had a catch.
Baker returns to the road for its league opener Friday, Sept. 24, taking on Mac-Hi (0-2) at Milton-Freewater for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Pioneers lost 70-0 to La Grande on Sept. 10.