Ashland, Ore. — Southern Oregon University’s football team is undefeated this year. While that’s a big deal any season, this year it means even more, as players honor legendary coach Craig Howard, who passed away this year, and the man who took over.
“When I came here, it was certainly under some real difficult situations, with the passing of Coach Howard who was just loved by the program and the community, and the things he did with the program here,” Head Coach Charlie Hall said. “And got them to a National Championship and second year as a runner up was incredible, and his loss was shocking.”
That’s why when Hall left Ashland High School and took the reins at SOU, he started with a relaxed approach.
“It just was a very natural fit for me, to come in, and to keep a lot of things in tact, kept a lot of the assistant coaches, I wanted to make sure that those relationships between our players and our coaches were consistent with what had been going on,” Hall said.
Hall says the consistency, and the team’s natural strength carried them through the season.
“The strong play at the quarterback position, other positions coming together, and then the strong defense week in and week out has really been, has put us into this position right now,” Hall said.
But the team has one more regular season game to officially claim an undefeated season, and start their run at another national championship.
“The Montana Tech rivalry has been one, a little bit more of a darker side, it’s been a very bitter rivalry,” Hall said. “Both teams, historically, don’t like each other.”
The last regular season game of the year is in Mutte, Montana on Saturday. Coach Hall and the team are expecting one thing from Montana Tech, but they’re ready for anything.
“They’re just going to play the role of just, trying to upset our undefeated season right now, and it’s going to be a tough battle,” Hall said.
The Raiders are ranked number 5 in the NAIA. Round one of the national playoffs begin on November 18.