Jonas Larson was on the sideline last year in Redmond. Then a sophomore, the Mountain View running back had been injured during the year, and he was left on the sideline, watching as Redmond dealt the Cougars a 28-point loss.
You better believe that game was on the mind of Larson and the Cougars heading into Friday night’s Class 5A Special District 1 football game.
And you better believe that was the driving force behind a 56-16 victory by 5A top-ranked Mountain View over Redmond at Jack Harris Stadium.
“Even having the opportunity to play, I don’t care about the score, remembering being on the sideline and watching us lose, it didn’t feel good at all,” Larson recalled. “Coming out now and winning and playing well, it was an amazing feeling for everyone. Beating a team that beat us last year, that has beat us the last couple years, it’s revenge.”
With Larson rumbling for 211 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries, the Cougars snapped a two-game slide against the Panthers and are 4-0 for the first time since 2010.
“It’s a new year for us, and a different team,” said Mountain View coach Brian Crum. “Last year, we felt like they really hit us in the mouth, and we kind of cowered. We challenged them all week long to see who we are. And it was good to see them respond and come out and play like we can.”
Though the Cougars (2-0 SD1) turned the ball over on downs on their first possession, they quickly made up for it, scoring 21 points in the first quarter with rushing touchdowns from Larson and Jordan Bell sandwiching a 12-yard passing score from Caden Cromwell to Forrest Love. The lead ballooned to 35-0 by halftime thanks to another rushing score by Larson and a second passing touchdown by Cromwell, this time to Logan McCulligan.
While Mountain View’s offense continued to light up the scoreboard, the Cougs’ defense stymied Redmond, limiting the Panthers to a mere 47 yards of offense in the first two quarters.
“I thought our defense played really opportunistic tonight,” Crum said. “I can’t say enough about them making big stops down in (Redmond’s) end, causing turnovers. … I’m really impressed with what our defense did up front.”
The Panthers (0-2, 0-4) found the end zone on their second offensive play of the second half, on a 72-yard touchdown run by Jack Taylor. Mountain View, though, answered on its second offensive play — a 70-yard sprint by Larson. The Cougars cruised from there, finishing with their highest-scoring game of the season while dropping Redmond to its worst start to a season since 2009.
“We’ve had a heck of a first four games with teams we’ve been playing,” said Panthers coach Gene Dales. “The scoreboard has not been our friend in those games. But it’s all about us. It’s not about who we play. We just have to continue to work to get better.”
After the game, while addressing his team, Dales focused solely on the second half, when Redmond accrued 217 yards of offense. That, he said, will be key moving forward.
“It’s all about execution for us,” said Dales, whose team hosts Pendleton next Friday. “We’ve got an all-new offensive line up front, we’ve got people in the backfield who are brand new. All we want to do is get some success going on, get into the end zone, get us a chance to feel some success and build off of that. You can talk about scheme all you want, but we just have to get some confidence and get some want-to out there on the football field. We just have to play harder.”
Taylor finished with 139 yards rushing and two touchdowns while passing for 94 yards for the Panthers, and Henry Chambers had two catches for 63 yards.
For Mountain View, Bell ran for 59 yards and two touchdowns, while Cromwell passed for 62 yards and two scores. Yet it was Larson, as he has done all season, leading the charge for the Cougars.
“He’s a horse,” Crum said of his running back. “The nice thing about him is anytime he touches it, he can go 80 (yards). We haven’t had that for a couple years. It’s nice to see that somebody can take it to the house, and he’s got that vision and he has those cuts.”
Next week, Mountain View puts its No. 1 ranking — and first-place positioning in 5A Special District 1 — on the line as it travels to crosstown rival Summit, which has won the past two conference titles and was ranked No. 4 in the state before falling to Hermiston 34-14 on Friday.
“Confidence is always high,” Larson said. “It’s definitely higher after this game. We’re going to be going into Summit next week definitely feeling good.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0307, email@example.com