The Hudson’s Bay Eagles are over .500 for the first time in five years, and that fact had senior Mateo Varona a little emotional on Friday.
“I’m in tears,” Varona said. “This hasn’t happened — opening-game winner — since 2017. I love it. I’m in tears right now. It’s unbelievable.”
Varona had a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first half and opened the second half with a 61-yard touchdown run as the Eagles rolled past 53-6 on Friday at McKenzie Stadium.
The interception came five minutes into the game after Bay took an 8-0 lead on its second offensive play of the game.
“I saw the outside receiver come in for the slant, and we’ve been practicing that all practice, all practice,” Varona said. “(Defensive coordinator Ray) Lions — I love him — he’s been harping on me about that all week. So as soon as I saw it, broke on it. Boom, touchdown.”
With their defensive stifling the Timberwolves, the Eagles extended their lead to 32-0 by halftime.
On the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Varona found daylight for a 61-yard touchdown.
“That was amazing,” Varona said. “I haven’t felt anything like that in a long time. … I love my guys up front. I’m getting them dinner tonight. Most definitely.”
The last time Bay won a season-opener in 2017, the Eagles went on to earn their first postseason berth in 16 seasons.
Head coach Mark Oliverio, back at Bay again after departing in 2016, was excited to see Varona get to enjoy a win like this.
“He’s a difference-maker,” Oliverio said. “He’s a leader for our team. He’s a great kid. We feel so fortunate for him to be in a good position at least starting out. I know he’s excited. It was an emotional win for him.”
- Bay quarterback Dean Castillo completed seven passes to six different receivers for 82 yards and one touchdown. He also had a touchdown run.
- The Eagles offensive line shined as the Eagles rushed for 213 yards as a team.
- Heritage’s Evan Buckman was a bright spot for the Timberwolves, rushing for a 53-yard touchdown.
- Bay senior Izek Finn had a quarterback sack and returned a fumble on a kickoff return for a touchdown.