Harrisburg, Ore. -- 'Blitzing the Preseason' presented by Bi-Mart continues with Harrisburg football, who had to practice in their cafeteria Tuesday due to air quality problems around the area. But that isn't stopping the Eagles, who are aiming to make the playoffs yet again.
"I think we just kind of take it on ourselves to show everyone wrong," says Devin Nelson, a senior tight end at Harrisburg high school.
"It sucks not having the extra guys but we know we're gonna have to play and step up our game."
"We got some real good athletes," continues head coach Edmund Rivera. "We may have some low numbers but it doesn't matter, just get better. DM-GB. Get better."
Despite two years of deep 3A playoff runs and a 2016 state title, Harrisburg football has a turnout problem. Even with upperclassmen having to work summer jobs, the small group bonds and also motivates the current Eagles players.
"I know a lot of the underclassmen were coming in all the time and we we came in tried to get some weight lifting so it was good," explains senior Brennan Erickson.
It's been a fall camp of adversity, from depth to air quality issues. Coach Ed Rivera though continues to preach 'C.A.R.T.'
"What we do right now is we work on our core values," Rivera expands. "C for competition. A for academics. R for respect and T for teamwork. We emphasize that and we put that on our clothing and whatever they wear. Our core values is what is going to dictate our behavior."
And it seems to have taken with the kids.
"Brush everything off," says Elijah Pate of how the Eagles deal with adversity. "Things go bad, brush everything off. We build each other up, make everything better. That's how we do it."
"It's the young men that have put the time in the summer and the spring ball and I think that what we're gonna do is show the student body and the community that once again we're gonna surprise some people," Rivera says.
"We just kinda hold everybody accountable to their position, everything they do," says Erickson. "And if we see a guy taking a play off, we don't get in his face we don't yell at him. We just 'hey, c'mon man. We need you, we need you.' We got a small team we need you to work hard and hopefully we'll win some games."
With plenty of returners but replacing all-league receiver Will Downs, Harrisburg is confident a 3A run is in the cards again.