It was among the best finishes I’ve covered in Roseburg High School football history.
On Sept. 18, 2015, the Indians headed into their Southwest Conference opener against North Medford at Finlay Field as underdogs.
But Roseburg delivered its fans the highlight of the season, scoring a touchdown and adding a two-point conversion late in the game to knock off North Medford 36-35.
“I’m so proud of every single one of the guys out there,” senior Will Reddekopp, Roseburg’s player of the game on offense and defense, told me during the post-game celebration. “We played like such a family.
“At the end that’s Roseburg football, going for two. That’s Roseburg football in a nutshell. We’re not here to tie, we’re here to win the game.”
It was sweet redemption for the Indians, who were routed 56-7 by the Black Tornado the previous season at Spiegelberg Stadium.
“Definitely a head rush to get that win,” said senior quarterback Grant Ronk, who scored on a 1-yard run and ran in the game-winning two-point conversion with 27.5 seconds left. “It means everything to us ... we battled every single quarter and deserve it.”
The Tribe drove 80 yards in 15 plays on its final drive, which coach Thurman Bell called “near flawless.”
Roseburg cornerback Tyler Kienel preserved the win, intercepting Greyson Wolff at the RHS 28. Kienel played a big role on defense, making eight tackles.
“I’m probably as emotional or more emotional for these kids than winning a state championship,” Bell said. “They played their hearts out tonight. They were relentless.”
Roseburg led 28-22 at halftime, but North Medford took the lead on a 2-yard run by Wyatt Westfall and a PAT kick with 3:14 left in the third quarter.
The Tornado hiked its lead to seven at 35-28 in the fourth period with a 70-yard scoring drive as Mason Barone caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Wolff with 9:43 remaining.
But the Indians came through in crunch time.
Reddekopp turned in his best game in a Roseburg football uniform. He rushed for a career-high 174 yards on 25 carries, including a 77-yard touchdown run with 4:11 to go in the second quarter. He had 151 yards rushing and caught two passes for 33 yards in the first half.
Defensively, the linebacker finished with 11 tackles and made a fumble recovery.
“Will was phenomenal on both sides of the ball,” Bell said.
Roseburg compiled 408 yards rushing against a team that held a huge size advantage up front. Roseburg’s offensive line — consisting of center Cameron Campbell, guards Tyler Sconce and Parker Adair and tackles Ben Swanson and Alex Muck — created plenty of running lanes.
The Indians had three players post 100-yard rushing games, something I can’t ever recall happening at Roseburg.
Layne Van Anrooy ran for 117 yards on just nine attempts, giving Roseburg the lead with a 58-yard touchdown jaunt with 5:45 left in the opening quarter.
Kyle Rackley chipped in 109 yards on 21 carries, including TD runs of 5 and 11 yards.
“We had them a little confused,” Reddekopp said. “They were big boys, but if we could get past them we’d be running for a lot of yards and that’s exactly what we did.”
I thought this win would be a springboard to success for the Indians for the rest of the season, but they couldn’t buy a break. It ended up being the final win of Bell’s Hall of Fame 45-year career at Roseburg.
The Tribe proceeded to lose its last five contests and finished 1-7 overall. Grants Pass, Thurston and South Eugene were all winnable games, but Roseburg lost two close ones — 44-43 to the Cavemen and 30-28 to the Axe.
Roseburg didn’t even get to play SWC champion and state semifinalist Sheldon. That game in Roseburg was canceled due to the Umpqua Community College shooting.
You can listen to a broadcast of the 2015 North Medford-Roseburg game at 7 p.m. Friday on The Score, 1490 (AM) and 92.3 (FM). It’s the third of Classic RHS games that are being featured this fall in place of the Tribe’s 2020 season that has been moved to March because of the coronavirus pandemic.