By John L. Braese
ADRIAN – For some in the stands, the memories go years back.
Some remember the 76-0 drubbing Jordan Valley gave Adrian in a homecoming game years ago.
Others remember tales of jawing after a game.
But for the players this season, none of the past matters. What is important is the coming together of two towns, two schools, Jordan Valley and Adrian, to make up one team with a state championship goal.
As the season approached, Jordan Valley Coach Bryce Kershner saw only eight players ready to hit the field for the Mustangs. One injury would result in the game being played short-handed.
One phone call fixed the problem.
“I just wanted to give the kids a chance to play,” Kershner said. “The first call I made was to Adrian and they welcomed us immediately.”
It did take some logistics and long bus rides, but Adrian and Jordan Valley now are one. And, judging from the early season games, this team will be going far.
“They really play well together,” said Kershner.
“The team has come together and the kids play as one,” said Adrian Coach Billy Wortman. “This is not two teams combining, but one team playing.”
That one team mentality showed as Adrian-Jordan Valley ran away in the second half to down Wallowa 52-36 on Saturday in the home opener before a crowd of Adrian and Jordan Valley fans sitting side by side in the stands.
One thing that will need to be fixed. Because of the numbers showing up for home games, the concession stand ran out of hamburgers and bottled water by half time, a testament to the two towns supporting their athletes.
“I think we really work well together,” said Adrian senior Eduardo Munoz, a player now sharing quarterbacking duties with Chase Fillmore, a Jordan Valley senior. “I am really proud of the players coming from Jordan Valley. The dedication they show making the trip over here for practice every week really shows their dedication to the game.”
Jordan Valley senior tight end Kirk Eiguren said, “If we had tried to go it alone, we probably would have been 0-2 instead of 2-0. It has been amazing being on this team. We have so many weapons playing together.”
Both teams add something to the combination, according to the players.
“Jordan Valley brings some real athletes to this team,” said Adrian senior Andy Walker. “We can run some plays with the people on this team now we really had not considered before.”
Players from both towns admitted they heard some grumbling from alumni, those remembering the old days on the field and games from 20 years ago.
“We just pass it off,” Eiguren said. “This is our team now and we know what needs to be done.”
The Jordan Valley bus makes the trip to Adrian three times a week for practice. The teams both practice at home on Wednesdays.
Players won’t discuss what they expect from this season.
“We are taking this one game at a time,” Munoz said.
After the fall season ends, Adrian and Jordan Valley will go separate ways into basketball season, competing again in the same league.
Jordan Valley ended last year’s basketball season with a fifth-place state finish while Adrian wrapped up the year with a third-place league standing.
Even if they face each other as opponents on a basketball court, players from both towns will have memories of this fall for a lifetime.
“We know we are doing something special this year,” Eiguren said.
The combined schools will continue making history as one team as they board a bus for Powder Valley on Friday, Sept. 15, for a non-league matchup. Game time is 7 p.m.