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Warrior sports: With playoffs nearing, still hope for big finish

Though it hasn’t necessarily been a stellar fall for Lebanon High School athletes – yet, Athletic Director Kraig Hoene says a lot of good things could happen before the seasons end for the Warriors.

“We’re in a league as competitive as any,” Hoene said, noting that the return of West Albany has only strengthened the Mid-Willamette Conference.

“We’re the most competitive league in the 5A Division – from top to bottom in most sports.” He said that league members are almost always in the Elite Eight of most playoff brackets.

Football

The Warriors are in the “really tough” 5A-SD3 Special District 3, which includes the nine Mid-Willamette teams plus McKay, which is playing  down from 6A in football.

Lebanon was tied for third with Crescent Valley with identical 4-2 records as Lebanon Local went to press. The Warriors suffered a one-point loss, 37-36, on Sept. 14 to Silverton, which is unbeaten and sitting at the top of the league. Their other loss is to the other league leader, West Albany.

“Those were two competitive losses,” Hoene said, noting that Lebanon is still in the top 10 in the coaches poll, at No. 9. “We still have a good ranking going into the playoffs. If we can just clean up a few things that cost us some wins, we have as good a chance as anybody in the state.”

Lebanon was scheduled to play rival South Albany (2-4) Oct. 12, with two more games to go, including a home matchup against Crescent Valley, with whom it is tied,  on Oct. 19.

Hoene said the Warriors have recovered from some injuries, which will help and probably made a difference in the two losses.

“Football will be fine if we play well.”

Volleyball

Though the Warriors aren’t as dominant in league competition this year as some fans are used to, Lebanon is solidly in fifth place in the league, which means that if the Warriors don’t move up, they can still make the playoffs if they’re ranked higher than Willamette, fifth place in the nine-team Midwestern League.

“It’s kind of a precarious position for us,” Hoene said. Lebanon was ranked 14th in the state as of Oct. 12, two slots above Willamette, at press time.

An upside for the Warriors is they were scheduled to play in the Roosevelt Tournament on Oct. 13, along with other top 5A and 6A teams.

“They’ll see some pretty good competition there,” Hoene said. “Quality opponents.”

He said that although Lebanon hasn’t missed the playoffs under Head Coach Jorden Swanson, and has been a final contender in the last few years, including a run to the semifinals last year, the Warriors are “now having to grind and fight a bit,” Hoene said.

Cross-Country

Senior Jadon Roth, ranked seventh in the Mid-Willamette Conference, may be Lebanon’s best hope for the state meet as the district meet nears on Oct. 24, to be hosted by the Warriors at Waterloo Park.

“We’ve been solid,” Hoene said. “We’ll get some kids hopefully in the top four or five finishers at the district meet, if we get a really good meet.”

Girls soccer

The Warriors (1-2-2, 1-7-2), under new coach Francisco Martinez Cruz,  were sixth in the league going into an Oct. 16 matchup at home against second-place Corvallis.

“We’ve been really close,” Hoene said. “We’ve had a couple of draws in the league and we played (league leader) West Albany tough” in a 2-0 loss. “We’ve been doing some good things. We just haven’t gotten results.”

He cited a 3-3 draw with North Salem on Sept. 27, in which Lebanon had “13 other shots on goal.

We put them on the (goal) frame, so we didn’t get points.”

Boys Soccer

The Warriors (0-5, 1-10) have struggled, but Hoene said they’re improving, with three games left.

“It’s a process that (Head Coach) Logan (Sanchez) has taken on,” Hoene said.

“We’ve seen better things this year.”