A team you will hear a lot about in the coming years is the Lakeridge Pacers. In a relatively short period of time, Head coach Elvis Akpla has been able to implement an impressive structure from the youth program on up, something that was lacking before.
Back in the day (80’s & 90’s) the Pacers were consistently ranked one of the top teams in the state. With the rise of Lake Oswego that trend subsided in the 2000’s. Future hall of fame Head coach Steve Coury has done a phenomenal job with the Lakers, winning multiple conference titles and a state championship. All of this said as Lakeridge looks to be turning a corner and potentially building something special.
A key move by Akpla, came prior to last year, with the hire of all time Oregon great Alex Brink as the Quarterback coach. Brink is widely regarded as the top QB trainer in the Northwest.
This years group will be young with a small but talented senior class. Former IMC Player of the Year Mike Irwin (6-1 195 17′) has made the transfer from Mountain View High School in Bend. Irwin projects as a D1 QB and provides the Pacers with a much needed leader, playing in what could be the toughest conference ever assembled in Oregon (Three Rivers League). In Irwin’s last game before injury in 2015, he rushed for 250 yards and 5 TD’s, and passed for another 250.
Junior RB Nick Hoddevik (5-11 180 18′) returns as one of the fastest kids in the state (11.2 100 Meters), after earning 2nd team all conference honors as a Sophomore. 6-6 235 pound TE/DE Jack Holum has a stock that is rising quickly with multiple D1’s interested.
Add to this returning three year starter Brandon Doblie and one of the state’s top 2019’s Will Scadden (6-3 170 WR), and the Pacers perimeter is legit. Look for Neil McCarthy (6-5 280 G/T 18′) to lead on the O line and be one of Oregon’s breakout Junior’s.
Much of the excitement comes with the Pacers elite group of young guys. Tiger Shanks (6-5 320 OL 20′) and TJ Jakmauh (6-4 275 DE/OL 20′) will be considered two of the top lineman in the country for their class. They are that good. You can expect both to start and get into the mix early. Kai Tinker (6-1 225 C 20′) and Matt Petersen are two other elite freshman who have the ability to play up.
Head 8th grade coach and Varsity assistant Jon Ellis is another individual who deserves a great deal of credit, when speaking to the foundation being built. For years Lakeridge struggled getting enough athletes to turn out for football. That no longer looks to be a problem. Lake O has some impressive kids coming up through the ranks but numbers are down substantially.
The Pacers still have a lot to prove and it may not all come together this season. The TRL is loaded with division 1 talent and the younger guys will face a stiff challenge. That said as Akpla and company are doing things the right way. Give the Pacers a couple years and you could very well have a title contending team once again.