The Roseburg High School football season came to an end on Nov. 1 with a 42-15 nonconference loss to Canby.
It was the end of a disappointing season that started with such promise.
After beginning the season with back-to-back wins over Mountain View and McMinnville, the Indians went on to lose their final seven contests. Roseburg finished the year with a 2-7 record and a last place finish after a winless Southwest Conference mark.
It marked the fifth straight season the Tribe has missed the Class 6A playoffs.
Head coach Dave Heuberger took a look back at his fourth year leading the Indians in a postseason question and answer session.
Answers were edited for length and clarity.
Q: How would you characterize your fourth year at Roseburg?
A: That’s a great question. We’re still kind of processing a little bit. Some of the things we look back on this season, I know we tried to do some things to try and get us out to a quicker start and I think that hurt us a little bit on the back end, as far as improving throughout the season.
We got off to that hot start. We sacrificed some different areas individually, technique with the kids, things like that. Maybe ran more plays in practice, things like that to get us so we’re a little bit crisper on Week 1 or 2 and obviously we accomplished that, but I think I learned a valuable lesson in that you can’t cheat this game — whether it’s summer workouts or winter conditioning. You can’t cheat the game. It’s going to catch up to you somehow. It was obviously an area that we will continue to address on that.
Obviously the 2-7 record, discouraging to go out losing the last seven games like that. The kids still got all the positive attributes of playing football out of it, they just didn’t get the Ws that make it a lot more beneficial to the kids.
We talked about that a little bit. You know all the perseverance. The 14 seniors that stuck through it and the life lessons they learned along the way. While the wins weren’t there, we hope those qualities of football and being an athlete, they still got that out of it.
Q: What’s something you take away from this season that you hope to be able to apply to next year and to the future as a coach?
A: I think some of that is how to balance the confidence of a kid. Early on, you know, there were some things that we maybe noticed on film. How do we balance that confidence and get that confidence in a team that hasn’t had success recently and how do we balance that with trying to correct what we’re trying to correct on the field?
Q: Looking back on the season, what are some of the highlights for you?
A: You know, just that group of seniors that’s been here for four years. Getting to be a part of watching them mature over four years, on and off the field. Seeing them have special moments. Not always just football. You know, maybe it’s a kid getting a 5-point elk or a kid bringing you a picture of a big old salmon.
It was fun to be a part of those kids. You know that cliche ‘they keep us young.’ They’re a very mature group of seniors that we had, that were incredibly fun to be around. I think if it wasn’t for the character and the quality of those young men, it would have been even more of a wear.
Q: What goes on for you now during this down time?
A: Obviously, decompress. You hit the floor running on Aug. 3 and what is it? Nov. 14?
A lot of the kids have other activities that they’re interested in, so they’ll be transitioning to that. A lot of our coaches have families and we all teach six periods a day, so we’ll probably focus on all of that.
You try to separate the emotion from a season before you start thinking ‘okay, this is what we want to do,’ because if you base that on emotions and move forward you might not be going down the right track.
Q: A lot can change between now and kickoff to next season, but what are your initial thoughts about next year?
A: I’d say we’ve got some skill kids returning in the secondary. Offensively, obviously, we had seven varsity O-linemen and six of them graduated. And a majority of those guys played both ways.
We’re going to have to do some things that allow us to have some success. Maybe tweak those a little bit and we’ll take a look at that down the road and see how some of the young kids develop.
Q: You’ve been involved in reorganizing the grassroots levels of football in the Roseburg area, are you seeing signs of growth at that level?
A: No question. I mean, the last two years we’ve had freshman classes over 30. Hop on to OSAA.org and go look at the Metro League area. Look at those schools up north. Look at what their numbers are.
Lake Oswego I think had 17 freshmen. Westview doesn’t have a freshman team. A lot of them are going to freshman/sophomore.
The Southwest Conference does a great job with their freshman numbers. Go look at that and everyone is over 30, 35 at least. Look around the rest of the state. Up north, it’s not like that right now.
That hasn’t been 30 or 35 for the last five or six years, but in the last two it has been. And next year I see no reason why it won’t be in that number range again.