August 29, 2003 11:00 pm

By Mike Weber

For the Observer

DUFUR — For the third straight year, Powder Valley High faced Perrydale in the season opening Oregon 8-Man Football Classic Friday.

Coach Alan Stanfield's Badgers, ranked No. 1 in the Class 1A Coaches Poll, didn't appear to be worthy of such lofty recognition right off the bat, however, after falling behind 8-0 while playing a lackluster first quarter.

Second-ranked Perrydale, runner-up to 2002 state champion St. Paul, nearly put the Badgers into a two-touchdown hole early.

The Pirates took the opening kickoff from Badger junior kicker Justin Deal and got on the scoreboard first after a 79-yard scoring drive.

Powder Valley gained just 25 yards on its opening series. The Pirates responded on their ensuing possession with a 44-yard drive that stalled just short of the goal line as Badger senior Todd Baxter — known more for his offense but a solid defensive player, as well — intercepted a pass by Perrydale quarterback Cody Rich at the 1-yard line.

The interception shifted the momentum in Powder Valley's favor and the Badgers tied the game after a seven-play drive, capped by Baxter's 12-yard run and two-point conversion pass to receiver Kaycee Shroyer with 10:15 left in the second quarter.

The Badgers took a lead for good just two minutes later as Baxter connected with junior running back Cody Taylor on a 56-yard touchdown pass, followed by Baxter's conversion run to make it 16-8.

A 24-point second quarter gave Powder Valley a commanding 24-8 halftime lead and the Badgers dominated the remainder of the contest on their way to a 36-20 win.

"Other than a few penalties and mistakes, I think we played a very good and aggressive game and getting a win against the No. 2 ranked team in the state is certainly a good way to start the season," said Stanfield, the Badgers third-year coach.

"This is (Baxter's) third year as our starting quarterback, so he executes our offense extremely well and Cody Taylor (four carries, 28 yards) and Deven Thompson (seven carries, 18 yards) both provide us with a good running game.

"We need to eliminate our mental mistakes and improve the blocking to give Todd a little more time to develop our passing game. I'm certainly glad to see that we had such a well polished performance in our first game and I hopefully we'll continue like this all year and maybe we'll still be playing in late November for the state championship," Stanfield said.

The Pirates did manage to close to within 24-14 with 7:33 left in the third, but the Badgers made it 30-14 on a remarkable 18-yard run by Baxter, who broke several tackles up the middle, and continued to dodge defenders while cutting to the right and up the sideline with 11 seconds left in the quarter.

The Badgers went up 36-14 in the fourth when senior linebacker Rylie Wendt blocked a Pirate punt and then recovered the ball in the end zone.

Perrydale senior running back Brian Kohlmeyer (33 carries, 153 yards) scored his second rushing touchdown on a 1-yard run with 2:48 left to end the scoring.

"This is a great way to start the season while providing us with confidence and momentum and hopefully, we'll continue to prove that we deserve our top ranking and show that we're capable of contending for the championship this year," said Baxter, who had 174 yards rushing on 10 carries and was 12-for-23 passing for 179 yards.

"We made some mental errors, but that's alright early in the season, because by the end of the year, we'll likely be playing mistake-free football. Many of our backups got significant playing time and that's important, because there's so many guys who play key roles on our team and I'm just glad to have a number of talented teammates who all help contribute to our success," said Baxter.

"After starting a little sluggish, we knew that it would be tough against a good Perrydale team," said Taylor, who led the Badgers with five catches for 81 yards.

Powder Valley's home opener is a 2 p.m. contest Sept. 5 against Adrian.

Powder Valley 36, Perrydale 20

Powder Valley 0 24 6 6 — 36

Perrydale 8 0 6 6 — 20

P — Steven Casalogno 3-yard run. Brian Kohlmeyer conversion run.

PV — Todd Baxter 12-yard run. Kaycee Shroyer pass from Baxter.

PV — Cody Taylor 56-yard pass from Baxter. Baxter conversion run.

PV — Deven Thompson 4-yard pass from Baxter. Pass failed.

P — Cody Rich 2-yard run. Conversion run failed.

PV — Rylie Wendt blocked punt recovered in end zone. Pass failed.

PV — Baxter 18-yard run. Pass failed.

P — Kohlmeyer 1-yard run. Pass failed.