ONTARIO, Ore. - Mac-Hi's football season came to a close with a 61-21 loss at Ontario Friday night.
But the Pioneers didn't hang their heads after the loss, coach Chuck Pease said, and instead recognized their improvement over the season and looked forward to better things next year.
"The difference between the first game and how we played last night, while understanding we still have corrections and things to be done in the offseason - they've turned a huge corner with the program," Pease said. "It's just a noticeable improvement with them. That's a real positive. It's a good situation for coaches to look at. We've made a huge turn."
Mac-Hi finishes 3-6 overall, and 0-3 in Greater Oregon League play.
"It was a fairly tough schedule," Pease said. "Basically, six out of our nine opponents are going into postseason play. That shows a lot of character. Wins and losses, we're right about where Mac-Hi has always been. But internal things that you don't always see is a noticeable improvement from when we started in the spring and into the fall."
As for Friday's game, mistakes contributed to Ontario jumping out to a 21-6 lead after the first quarter, and a 48-14 halftime margin.
"We started off on a bang on our first couple series," Pease said. "In the first quarter, until they scored, it was nip-and-tuck."
Then, mistakes came into play.
"Some of it is our inexperience, the youth on our squad," Pease said. "They had some battles, individually. They took it very seriously.
"Our overall performance, I was pleased with what I saw. They battled the mistakes that were made, and showed a lot of positives to it. They didn't give up at all," he said. "They haven't given up all season long. They realize a total effort has to be given, they've taken pride in themselves, and that is so positive."
The Pioneers trailed 14-0 before Josh Rutherford took Ontario's kickoff 85 yards for the touchdown to pull Mac-Hi within 14-6.
The Tigers then put up five TDs before Rutherford broke loose for a 40-yard scamper. A 2-point pass conversion made it 48-14 at halftime.
Rutherford's 11-yard run, with Francisco Saldana's subsequent kick, ended scoring in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
"Effort-wise, they were good," Pease said. "Our execution was there, there were some real bright spots."
Mac-Hi will loss five seniors to graduation, and Pease expects 28 Pioneers to return next season.
"I admire our seniors for accepting the challenges and helping develop (the program)," Pease said. "And I admire the team for its work ethic. They've taken so many strides in a positive direction this year."
Mac-Hi 6 8 0 7 - 21
Ontario 21 27 6 7 - 61
Ont - Gonzalez 5 run (Garza kick).
Ont - Gonzalez 42 run (Garza kick).
Mac-Hi - Rutherford 85 kick return (kick failed).
Ont - Maedea 5 run (Garza kick).
Ont - Lopez 80 run (Garza kick).
Ont - Gonzalez 41 pass from Maeda (Garza kick).
Ont - Machuca 41 pass from Maeda (Garza kick).
Ont - Machuca 19 pass from Maeda (kick missed).
Mac-Hi - Rutherford 40 run (2 pt pass conversion).
Ont - Gonzalez 11 pass from Maeda (kick missed).
Ont - Maeda 14 run (Garza kick).
Mac-Hi - Rutherford 11 run (Saldana kick).
First downs 11 17
Rushes/yards 34-158 33-322
Passing yards 113 92
Passes (att-comp-int) 21-11-1 13-7-1
Punts 3-37.5 2-20
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 6-75 2-35
RUSHING - Mac: Rutherford 17-113, Sheets 11-36, Hudgen 6-9; Ont: Gonzalez 10-108, Wishard 2-15, Saito 2-2, Saluftergui 2-24, Maeda 2-19, Lopez 3-102, Sanchez 5-35, Torrez 6-34.
PASSING - Mac: Saldana 11-21-1; Ont: Maeda 7-13-1 .
RECEIVING - Mac: Richwine 3-11, Sandavol 1-3, Sheets 4-77, Key 1-13, Rutherford 2-9. Ont: Lande 1-24, Saluftergui 1-36, Gonzalez 3-22, rest NA.