Raiders Can’t Be Rattled: Riding An Undefeated Season, SOU Football Maintains Its Footing
With only 10 minutes left in their game on September 30, the SOU Raiders were, once again, firmly in control, up 24-10 over Rocky Mountain. It was becoming a common position; dominating the game with high offense scores. But in the fourth quarter, their opponents suddenly turned the tables, racking up two unanswered touchdowns.
But when the buzzer rang, the Raider won, eeking out a 24-23 victory—and, pushed their record, at presstime, to 5-0, including a season-opener victory over then-ranked #7 Eastern Oregon. And, it was a return to their prominence that propelled them from perennial losers to a national NAIA title in 2014 and runner-ups in 2015.
Moreover, the record is particularly impressive considering the turmoil and emotional upheaval that has rocked the team for the previous several months.
A decade ago, the Raiders were lucky to win two or three games a season. But then, in 2011, SOU recruited a new coach, Craig Howard. He had been a quarterback coach who had worked with the likes of Tim Tebow, but when Howard arrived in 2011, the Raiders were bottom of the pile, winning an average three games in each of the previous eight seasons. But he quickly and efficiently turned them around, with keen recruiting, smart coaching and, most important, moral boosting.
In January, Head Coach Craig Howard died unexpectedly. Roundly respected for his tenacity as much as his kindness, his death shook the program’s foundation.
SOU scrambled to find a replacement—and a national search found one no further away than a well placed punt. By March, Charlie Hall stepped into the Head Coach position. One of the finalists for his position when Howard was hired in 2011, Hall has coached the Ashland High team, with an impressive 94-44 record over his tenure with the Grizzlies. (Hall is also a former SOU player.)
Hall has deftly carried the new winning tradition for the Raiders, pushing the team to an undefeated season, a tribute both to the legacy of players and attitude that Coach Howard left as much as testimony to Hall’s ability to step in and rally a team.
The Raiders started the season ranked at #14 and have steadily climbed, holding position #8 at presstime. They play the College of Idaho at 1 pm Saturday, October 21 for their homecoming game.