Two things come to my mind on this autumn day.
I’ve really missed getting to cover Douglas County sporting events in person. That would include football, volleyball, cross country and soccer at the high school level, and Umpqua Community College volleyball and cross country.
Damn, that coronavirus pandemic.
But I’ve enjoyed going back in history and writing about standout athletes and teams from the past. Listening to classic Roseburg football broadcasts on Friday nights — in place of the 2020 RHS season that tentatively got moved to March of 2021 — has brought a rush of great memories.
The ninth and final classic RHS replay game on The Score (1490-AM and 92.3-FM) tonight is the 1990 Ashland-Roseburg regular season Southern Oregon Conference game at Finlay Field.
Myself and Dan Bain, Roseburg’s play-by-play announcer for 16 years ending in 1991, agreed it was the most exciting Indians game we covered together.
It was an offensive showcase between the then-No. 1-ranked Indians and No. 9 Grizzlies before a standing-room-only crowd in Week 3 of the prep season.
It didn’t look good for the Tribe, which trailed by 14 points with five minutes left in the contest. Many Roseburg fans were conceding defeat and heading for the exits at that time.
But the Indians rallied with a pair of touchdowns, including a game-winning two-point conversion, and stunned the Grizzlies 44-43.
It was appropriate payback for Roseburg, which snapped a five-game losing streak against Ashland. Jim Nagel’s Grizzlies had defeated the Tribe twice during the 1989 season, capped off by the 24-22 victory in the state championship contest.
Roseburg drove 95 yards in 16 plays over the last two minutes, pulling within one point on a 5-yard touchdown run by Greg Fogle with no time left on the clock. The Tribe elected to go for the two-point conversion and the victory — no surprise if you’ve been around Thurman Bell — and Fogle touched off a wild celebration on the field by running it in around right end.
Shane Harris caught a 63-yard scoring pass from Todd Black and Joe Potter added the extra point as the Indians made it a one-score game with 4:28 remaining.
The Indians prevailed despite losing two-way starters Rich Ruhl and Joey Quintana in the second quarter to leg fractures. Defensive tackle Brad Simmons played the second half with a slight shoulder separation and Fogle had practiced very little that week due to a dislocated kneecap.
Fogle finished with 111 yards rushing on 15 carries and made two receptions on fourth-down plays to keep Roseburg’s final drive alive. Tate Muir also made a big 15-yard catch on fourth down.
“It was a tremendous football game. Not just the finish, but the whole game was a great one,” Bell said. “It’s a fun game to talk about.”
“That has to be No. 1. That Ashland game, by far, is the most excitement I’ve ever been around,” Roseburg linebacker Barry Boettcher said. “I had doubts (when we were behind by 14), but I always had a positive attitude hoping we could pull it off.
“The fan reaction to that win was unbelievable.”
Roseburg continued on that season to win the SOC championship outright and finished 13-0-1 overall, the only blemish a 14-14 tie with No. 5 Tigard in the state title game. Ashland was eliminated by Tigard in the semifinals.
Back then, the Kansas Plan was in effect by the Oregon School Activities Association during the regular season and throughout the playoffs to break ties, but not in the championship game and no overtime was played.
That game ended up being the last state final to end in a tie as overtime was later added for the championship tilt, guaranteeing a winner. That marked Roseburg’s fourth straight appearance in the title contest and the Tribe wasn’t able to win any of them.
That was unfortunate because I really believed Roseburg was the best team in the state during the 1990 season.