Apr. 10—NORTH BEND — Grants Pass beat North Bend in the spring football season finale Friday night.
The game wasn’t particularly close, with the Cavemen triumphing 42-13, but North Bend’s players were able to walk off the field for the final time in the six-game season with their heads held high and their hearts filled with gratitude just for having the chance to play.
“It was just a blessing to be out here,” said Liam Buskerud, one of North Bend’s many seniors honored before their final home game. “I can’t say enough about what football has done for me and what this program has done for me.”
North Bend finished the season with a 3-3 record, the losses coming to Grants Pass and two squads earning top-four trophies in Class 4A — Marist Catholic and Marshfield.
“The fact that we got the season and we went against the toughest competition we could,” Buskerud said. “We played for each other. The underclassmen played for us. In the end, we left our hearts on the field.”
North Bend coach Gary Prince said the Bulldogs knew going in they had to play a mistake-free game to beat the big and athletic Cavemen.
North Bend didn’t come close. There were too many turnovers. There was an inability to stop Grants Pass on a few key fourth downs. And the Bulldogs were unable to finish a few drives that stretched deep into Grants Pass territory.
But the Bulldogs did score first and did lead at the end of the first quarter.
North Bend’s first drive stalled inside the Grants Pass 15, but the Bulldogs got the ball back when they stuffed a fake punt attempt by the Cavemen.
And moments later, quarterback Coleman Compton surged through a hole in the line and raced 46 yards for a touchdown. With regular kicker Dakota Gaul unavailable after suffering a soccer injury, Compton botted the extra point through the uprights and the Bulldogs led 7-0.
Less than three minutes later, Grants Pass quarterback Hunter Gonzales tossed the first of his four touchdown passes, a 17-yard connection with Jett Hood. The run failed and North Bend led 7-6 through one quarter.
But just 15 seconds into the second, Gonzales connected with Dante Haven on a 40-yard touchdown on a screen pass. This time, the two-point conversion was good and the Cavemen led 14-7.
Grants Pass added two more scores before halftime, the first on an 18-yard pass from Gonzales to Devik Chiang and the second on a 13-yard pass from Gonzales to Noah Martinez one play after Chiang recovered a fumble on mishandled snap.
That was the first of three North Bend turnovers, the others interceptions by Ryan Maier and Haven.
North Bend did have one final highlight a 30-yard touchdown pass from Compton to Kevin Jones on the final play of the game.
Despite the lopsided final score, North Bend coach Gary Prince was happy with his team’s effort.
“I thought our kids were just as physical (as Grants Pass),” he said. “We just didn’t execute.”
Prince was thrilled the Bulldogs got the chance to have a season after football and the other fall sports were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s all we were hoping for — to get on the field to play,” he said.
To that end, the Bulldogs had a good season.
“I think it was great,” said Sidon Green. “At times we didn’t think we were going to play at all. We made the most with what was offered.”
Friday was disappointing, Green said, but it didn’t define the season.
“I’m proud of everybody,” he said. “We fought through everything and played. I think it’s good for everybody.”
Green is among the players who will be returning next year. Buskerud is among 15 seniors on the squad.
Prince said that group will be missed.
“Those seniors have been the heart of the team for three years,” he said.
Grants Pass 42, North Bend 13
NB: Coleman Compton 46 run (Compton kick)
GP: Jett Hood 17 pass from Hunter Gonzales (run failed)
GP: Dante Haven 40 pass from Gonzales (Cole Nicholas pass from Gonzales)
GP: Devik Chiang 18 pass from Gonzales (kick blocked)
GP: Noah Martinez 13 pass from Gonzales (David Ruiz pass from Gonzales)
GP: Jayden Brown 1 run (Ruiz kick)
GP: Ruiz 14 run (JT Davis kick)
NB: Kevin Jones 30 pass from Compton (no attempt)