** As much as any season in recent memory this years Oregon 6A classification has a host of teams that could make a run at a state title. It’s still early and a lot could change over the next month, but as of right now this is where I would have teams ranked.
Right now I will lean Jesuit if we are talking the #1 ranked team in the state, although its far from a certainty. The Crusaders lose a monster line that had there way with folks, led by one of the best ever to come out of Oregon, Jaxson Kirkland (6-8 315 Washington). That said as they do return one of the top centers in the country in Travis Spreen (6-4 290 Sr.) and underrated Guard Cam Mahoney (6-2 255 Sr).
The key for Jesuit will be keeping do it all back Trey Lowe (5-8 180 Sr. Committed: Washington) healthy. His 1800+ yards and 34 TDs in just over 7 games last season speaks to his ability. The Metro looks to be down this year, making things much more feasible from the standpoint of not overusing Lowe. Expect him to be done by halftime due to blowouts in conference play, with backup RB Ennis Ferguson (6-1 190 Sr.) also listed as one of the top running backs in the state.
1st team all league LB Isaiah Henderson-Brazie (6-2 225 Sr.) returns as a favorite for Metro Defensive Player of the Year honors, with the very long and athletic 2nd team all conference CB Briceton Branch (6-1 170 Jr.) also returning. QB Will Spitznagel did a great job as a Sophomore. The question becomes can he be the three year starter and leader that Eric Restic was, just a few seasons ago.
Other individuals who you could see play a key role at the skill positions include Trey Werner (6-0 175 Sr.) and Luke Hamper (6-3 200 Sr.), with standout incoming junior’s Colin Mcmahon (6-4 200 OLB/TE) and Zach Carr (6-1 220 LB) both getting in the mix.
Expect Sophomore Andy Alfieri (6-2 195 So. RB/LB) to be another dominant athlete within the State of Oregon. Most are familiar as the name speaks for itself. You can expect Coach Potter to get him involved early.
Ultimately I think Jesuit’s success will come with what they can do up front. They make no secret about the fact that they will look to run the ball down your throat. With the Lowe/ Ferguson combo, that isn’t going to change. Look for Grayson Mondeaux (6-4 290 Jr. OL), brother of Duck Standout Henry Mondeaux, to be one of Oregon’s breakout Junior lineman. You will also see Joe Quillin (6-2 280 Jr. DT) be ranked and considered one of the top D-Lineman in the Pacific Northwest. The kid is powerful and will cause problems.
In summary the Crusaders finished (12-1) last season and could very well be better then that. Look for them to be a state title favorite.
2. WEST LINN-
Head Coach Chris Miller is about as good as they come. I would consider him one of the top head coaches ever to represent this state. The Lions (14-0) 2016 season ended on a high note, with a 62-7 pasting of Central Catholic in the 6A championship.
It is unrealistic to think a senior class like that can be replicated. Stanford baseball commit, and 3X Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year Tim Tawa, is beyond special. His 55 TD’s to 1 INT wont ever be matched. UW commit Elijah Molden could be the best DB ever to come out of this state and he’s even a better kid. 6-5 300 OL Alex Forsyth will take his talents to the U of O and most likely spend some time in the NFL. Players such as these are unique.
All of this said as it would not surprise me to see the Lions playing for another title. 2x 1st team all league returners Qawi Ntsasa (5-10 175 Sr. Slot) and Zack Huffstutter (6-0 200 Sr. Safety) are D1 kids and two of the state’s best. On top of their freakish athletic ability they are leaders on and off the field. Incoming Junior QB Ethan Long (6-2 205) has the potential of being Oregon’s top quarterback for his class.
One of the biggest transfers state wide came with 2x time 1st team all PIL rusher Ahmir Mcgee (5-11 190 Sr. RB) making the move from Franklin. Mcgee accounted for 3,055 yards and 34 TDs over the last two years and provides the group with a game changing back. Already deep at the position the Lions will feature an elite trio that will be tough to match, with RB’s Tyler Good (5-10 195 Sr.) 856 yards, 7.9 ypc, 14 TDs (5 receiving) and Dawson Jolley (5-10 165 Jr.) 590 yards, 8.3 ypc, 7 TDs, also returning.
Much like Jesuit the biggest question mark for the Lions will come on the line. Offensively Forsyth, 6-7 Hunter Lampson, Brandon Ahlgren, and Connor Maloney are gone, with defensive D1 standouts Mitchell Johnson 6-4 220 (TRL MVP) and Jake Porter 6-4 235 graduating. The individuals they have returning up front will hold their own, but it won’t come close to matching last season. Another big addition comes with 1st team All Metro D end Justin Babcock (6-3 220 Sr.) making the transfer from Westview.
6-6 TE Keishon Dawkins will need to have a big year. The 3* talent has the potential of being an X factor. Look for him to shatter last seasons stat line of 8 receptions , 73 yards, and 2 TDs. He could see the ball often along with up and coming Sophomore WR Casey Tawa, one of the TRL’s top young athletes.
3. CENTRAL CATHOLIC-
Year in and year out the Rams have maybe the most talented group on paper in all of Oregon. You typically see a litany of D1 athletes up and down the roster. This year will be no different as CC features a special 2018 and 2020 class.
Two of the state’s top three LB’s in Elijah Winston (6-3 220 Sr. OLB) and Malakai Salu (6-1 225 Sr. LB) will lead the D, with Winston holding offers from more then half the PAC-12 and Notre Dame. Ivy League prospect Austin Hill (6-1 195 Sr. Safety) will return as a three year starter, with Kitan Oladapo (6-1 175 Sr. CB) considered one of the top corners in the state.
Vincenzo Logan (6-2 170 Sr.) and Korbin Williams (6-2 170 Sr.) are two other sleepers that some folks might not know about yet. Both are ranked among the top WR’s in Oregon for their class. Logan missed last season due to injury and could be the state’s breakout player of the year. He destroyed DB’s over the off season on the 7v7 circuit and has the potential of playing D1 ball if given the opportunity.
Two big questions for Central will come with the younger athletes and the big boys up front. The incoming Sophomore class is special to say the least. WR Silas Starr (6-2 185 So.) has already been offered by Oregon and could be one of the top receivers to come through this state in some time. You would be hard pressed to find a better kid off the field. Add to this QB Cade Knighton (5-11 170 So.) ,who is equally impressive as a person, and started as a freshman. Miles Jackson (5-11 160 So. ATH), Ethan Flynn (6-0 190 So. ATH), and Kalvin Souders (6-2 170 So. WR) are all other athletes who should play a significant role early. Each projects at the D1 level and should be called upon to produce this season.
Like many other top teams this year, the production on the line is a wait and see. Recent years have featured the likes of Alex Balducci-Oregon/NFL, Connor Humphries-Arizona St, Blake Brandel-Oregon St, and Travis Mackay -Oregon St.
This years group will be led by returning three year all conference starter Daniel McDougal (6-5 280 Sr. OL) and maybe the most underrated lineman in Oregon, Dylan Gabriel (6-1 275 Sr. C). Gabriel broke out this off season with a phenomenal showing at the NWBest Winter Showcase. Two other individuals who could play a role include Grant Hutson (6-2 265 Sr. OL) and Andrew Myers (6-5 240 Sr).
CC is never lacking athletes. They have what many consider the best assistant coaching staff in the state. Like many seasons prior the Rams will have a shot at a title if the line can produce and the youngsters can step up as Sophomores
4. SOUTH MEDFORD
If there has ever been a year that South has had a shot at a state title it’s this one. Countless three year all conference starters are back, from a team that features one of the nation’s best in 4* WR Chase Cota, and returning SWC players of the year Jaylin Parnell (Sr. RB/LB) and Robbie Patterson (Sr. QB). Parnell actually earned POY honors on both sides of the football, a very unique feat.
Patterson doesn’t possess prototypical D1 size but he is an outstanding and very disciplined quarterback. His arsenal of athletes on offense, includes 1st team all league, 4 year starter Kaleb Franklin (Sr. ATH ). A kid who will break your ankles in the open field. The attention put on him and Cota, with Parnell coming out of the backfield, is a dream situation for the “best player you haven’t heard of yet” in Jaalen Owens (6-1170 Sr. WR). Owens has the potential of being one of Oregon’s top wideouts, especially if Cota and company are getting doubled.
1st team all league Safety/LB Trent Snyder (6-0 215 Sr.) will be a three year starter and another kid who will play a crucial role for the Panthers. No one questions the offense and what they can do there. It will be Snyder, all SWC LB Martin Laupola (6-0 235 Sr.) and the D that will need to step up.
The line has done relatively well and has an unquestioned toughness about them. That said as they are undersized and not deep with regards to numbers. Returning All conference standout Brandon Ditty (5-10 220 C) will lead the group up front. Rarely do we a see team win a title without a line. This will be the definitive factor here.
As referenced the Panthers are a SWC title favorite and a team that should make a deep run. After being shocked in the first round of the playoffs at home by Newberg last season, they will need to show they have what it takes to win big games in November. All the tools and high profile athletes are there. We will see what head coach Bill Singler and his crew can do.
Expect LO to once again be a TRL and state title contender in the coming seasons. They aren’t deep from an overall numbers standpoint but they are super talented. Up front the Lakers will need to stay healthy. If they can do so they have a shot to make a deep run in November. One of the nation’s top ranked lineman Dawson Jaramillo (6-5 295 Sr. Committed: Oregon) and a very athletic and underrated tackle Shawn Elliott (6-3 245 Sr.) will lead the group.
QB Jake Dukart (6-3 180 Sr.) recently decommitted from Arizona St baseball, making his intentions known and committing to Oregon St in football. Backup quarterback Jackson Laurent (6-2 180 Jr.) is very capable if called upon. 1st team all league WR Jordan Newlin (5-10 165 Sr.) is back as an unquestioned D1 kid if the effort is there.
Defensively the Lakers are youthful but impressive. Junior LB Chris Todd (6-2 220) projects as the top backer in the state for his class. Bryson Breeze (5-11 180 Jr.) has the potential of being 6A Oregon’s leading tackler, and a TRL defensive player of the year candidate. Fellow Juniors Ryan Bertelsen (6-3 235 DE) and Mike Mercep (6-2 210 DL/LB) compliment this group nicely, as Bertelsen is athletic and comes off the edge hard, with Mercep playing on the D line but projecting as an LB. Add to this RB Collin Bracken (6-1 190) and a very versatile Matt Sebolsky (5-10 165 ATH), and you have maybe the top skill group in the 2019 class.
Speaking to the youth, look for Casey Filkins (6-0 170 So.) and Thomas Dukart (6-1 165 So.) to be two of the top Sophomores in the West and ranked nationally before they are done. Filkins went off as a freshman scoring 6 varsity TD’s in his final 5 games. His film is some of the most impressive I have ever seen from a 9th grader. Dukart could end up with offers from everyone, projecting as a freakishly athletic safety with god given ability you cant teach. Additionally Joe Hutson (6-1 170 So.) is one of the state’s top WR’s for his class and rounds out the group.
There is no question that the young guys will have to step up and play beyond their years if LO wants to capture a title this season. It’s never easy when you are competing against TRL competition, but these younger dudes can play.
Michael Johnson Jr. (6-3 180 Jr.) is all that and then some. The 4* dual threat QB has offers from everyone as his transfer couldn’t have come at a better time for the Irish. Sheldon loses a deep senior class with head coach Lane Johnson also stepping aside.
Anyone following HS football over the last few decades will tell you that the group out of Eugene has been the most consistent team in Oregon. Since 2009 the school has gone a combined (93-11) will multiple state titles.
Offensively Johnson Jr, and one of America’s top Junior WR/TE’s Patrick Herbert (6-5 225) are exceptional, and give the team a shot against any opponent. They will be ranked the #1 and #2 athletes state wide for the 2019 class. Herbert currently holds offers from Oregon, Oregon St, and Cal.
Fellow 3* ATH Raymond Woodie also makes the transfer and provides the Irish with an unmatched arsenal of 2019 skill kids.
If Sheldon is going to continue their trend of dominance they will need to show up defensively. Expect 1st team all league returning LB Jaren Banks (6-0 200 Sr.) to vie for SWC Defensive Player of the Year honors, with Chris Collins (6-1 210 Sr.) also projecting as one of the top backers in the conference. In the secondary Kimani Quade (5-8 155 Jr.) returns after his breakout Sophomore campaign, where he was listed as one of the nation’s leaders in INT’s with 11.
Up front Sheldon loses some big time athletes, led by Oregon bound Cody Shear. 1st team all league returner Matt Metcalf (6-2 270 Sr. OL) had a outstanding Junior year, with Zach Phillipo (6-2 270 Sr. C) being the other key member of the line returning.
From the youth on up the Irish feature one of the most impressive football programs state wide. That said even with the addition of MJ Jr. and Woodie I think it will be tough to match what they have done in seasons past.
Give a lot of credit to head coach Joe Bushman and company. The Cavs continue to be one of the fastest rising programs in the Pacific Northwest, finishing up last year (10-3) with a state semifinal appearance. Not bad considering their only losses came to Grant HS (National power out of Sacramento, CA) and the two teams who played for the 6A title last year in West Linn and Central Catholic.
Even more impressive are the kids they have returning. The team will be led by all everything 6-7 WR Cole Turner, who currently holds 10+ D1 offers, and is one of the fastest rising athletes in the West. QB Mitch Modjeski (6-2 200 Sr.) also returns giving the group a veteran leader with outstanding overall athleticism.
One of the biggest hurdles for the Cavs will come with replacing record breaking RB Jake Mcgreevy, who accounted for 2,468 yards on 353 carries, with 30 TD’s, averaging almost 200 per game (189.8). A ridiculous stat line. Incoming Senior Nick Vaughn (5-8 175) looks more than capable, carrying the ball 120 times for 841 yards and 13 TDs himself last season. Regardless Mcgreevy leaves a tough act to follow.
If Clack is going to make a deep run, 1st team all league safety Braelen Bettles (6-2 190 Sr.), will have to do his thing on both sides of the football. He is an unquestioned leader, currently sitting on the D1aa bubble. Watch his film and you see a kid that will be listed among the top hitters in the state.
One of the most intriguing parts to this years Clackamas team will come on the line. Graduating are three 1st team all league kids with size (Jack Buechler, Michael Vance, Simon Grishkevich). That said as they return one of the more impressive young line groups in the region with incoming Junior’s Kelsen Hennessey (6-5 250 T Jr.) and Brian Espinoza (6-6 245 T) leading the way. Alex Hall (6-1 250 So. G) looks to be a three year starter, with Hudson Bishop (5-10 225 Sr.) providing senior leadership as an all conference kid last year.
Two of the biggest sleepers and potential breakout athletes state wide come in Matt Dalzell (5-11 165 Jr.) and Thomas Tolonen (5-10 160 Jr.). Both are legit and were impressive all off season. Dalzell torched DB’s on the 7v7 circuit, and could be one of the top receivers in the state. Each should thrive with all of the attention and double teams given to Turner.
Jake Bushman (5-11 215 Jr.) could be the most important and influential kid on the roster. The standout LB had a phenomenal Sophomore season, leading the team in tackles with 63. He will have to double up on that performance with all of the talent lost on D, including Player of the Year Quincy Baker. In conclusion Clack once again has a bunch of players. 6-4 200 OLB Jakobe Erskine could be another kid to breakout. With the Cavs continued progression anything is possible from them this season.
Year in and year out the Tigers feature one of the top football programs in the Pacific Northwest. The TRL is once again loaded so it will be interesting to see how they stack up. Oregon commit Braden Lenzy (6-1 175 Slot/CB Sr.) will need to lead and produce non stop if the Tigers want to match previous seasons. Opponents will make someone else beat them, as you will see Lenzy consistently double teamed.
Losing RB’s Jash Allen and Ryan Minniti to graduation hurts, specifically without a veteran QB returning to open up the pass attack. The Tigers and head coach Craig Ruecker make no secret about liking to run the ball time and again. Jordan Prunty (6-0 195 RB/SS Sr.) is one of the top players in the state if he is healthy. They will need him more than ever in 17′.
Three year starter and 2x all conference athlete Spencer Smith (5-10 165 ATH Sr.) may end up the X factor with all of the attention put on Lenzy. From an overall talent standpoint he is a legit playmaker. Both Kyle Bay (6-3 215 TE Sr.) and Nick Heinke (6-3 180 ATH/S Sr.) will be called upon to step up as numbers are somewhat down.
Tigard will feature two of the state’s top lineman in Burke Albaugh (6-4 305 T Sr.) and Laytan Tanuvasa (6-1 260 DT/G Sr.). Albaugh has a stock that is rising as quick as any lineman in Oregon, with Tanuvasa coming from a football family and wreaking havoc on the defensive side of the ball.
This has the potential of being a tough year within the conference as the Three Rivers League is brutal. Sophomores Hunter Gilbert and Max Lenzy could play early, with Brayden Zolkoske (6-5 300 So.) light years ahead of others kids his age. You always have to respect THS Football, although they could be a 3rd or 4th place team within the conference.
From the youth on up the Bowmen run a top notch program where everyone is on the same page. Give a lot of credit to head coach Greg Lawrence as he has been a blessing to the community over the years. That said It’s never to easy to replicate the season prior, especially when you are graduating three high profile D1 kids.
I’m guessing David Morris (Committed: Oregon St) will go on to be one of the top players in the PAC-12 and spend some time in the NFL. He is that good. Josh Bowcut 6-5 290 DT (Committed:Oregon St) and Luka Nixon (6-6 245 DE (Committed: UC Davis) both should go on to be very successful collegiate athletes.
Returning to lead the group will be 1st team all league Safety Zack Jenkins (5-11 185 Sr.) and two year all conference DT Nic Garrison (6-0 280 Sr.). Each should be considered a TRL Player of the Year candidate on the defensive side of the ball. Look for Jenkins to go for over 1000+ on the ground as well. Zane Sands (6-4 220 Sr. LB) is the other standout ranked among the top 50 players in Oregon.
Overall Sherwood will be young. Michael Klapp (6-4 170 Jr. CB ) started as a Sophomore, as did Ben Baxter (5-11 175 Jr. RB/S) who averaged 6 yards a rush (56 carries, 334 yards, 1 TD). Klapp looks to be one of the fastest rising incoming Juniors as it a luxury to have a 6-4 corner.
Up front Jakob Mccreery (6-3 290 OL Jr. and Jackson Barton (OL/DL Jr.) are two of the underclassmen who will be called upon to lead the line. Even during a year where experience may be lacking, the structure is there and they are extremely well coached. The Bowmen look to be very similar to Tigard from a talent standpoint as they will still be two of the state’s best.
Reigning PIL Coach of the Year Don Johnson Jr. has changed the game within Oregon on multiple fronts. His ability to help kids in life and in the classroom is second to none. That said as the state has never had a man create more opportunities from a recruiting standpoint. Expect him to be favorite for 6A State Coach of the Year honors in 2017.
Two years removed from the school shutting down their football program, Johnson has led the comeback. Last years (8-3 season) and 1st round playoff win, at one of the most hostile venues in Oregon (Grants Pass), was remarkable.
The Senators graduate three big time D1 kids from that roster in Daniel Green (Kansas St), Isaia Mullen (Hawaii), and Wyryor Noil (Idaho). Add to this one of the region’s most exciting athletes Marquis Sampson (Western Oregon), and you have a very difficult group to replace.
Incredibly you look at Madison now and see a team that has the potential of being just as good, if not better. Oregon commit Marcus Cunningham (6-3 215 Sr. LB) has turned into one of the top recruits on the West Coast. Teammate CJ Davis (6-3 285 Sr. DT) is an absolute monster and has a stock that is rising quickly. He will have multiple D1 offers before he is done. One of the state’s top Safeties, Mujeeb Rufai (6-2 185 Sr.), made the transfer from Lincoln and will give the team an exceptional leader and lock down defender in the secondary.
On offense look for 2nd team all league returner Mike Noil (5-10 165 Sr. ATH) to be a PIL Player of the Year favorite. Noil is the guy that everyone wants to have on their team. He currently holds multiple D1 offers and will have at least a handful more before he is done.
Two of the top youngsters on the west coast include incoming junior big man Troy Kiole (6-5 290 OL) and Sophomore standout Demarhze Nelson (5-8 200 RB/LB). Kiole projects as the top lineman in Oregon for his class, with Nelson looking like a special back already.
Kiole will be joined up front by Keishon Mason (6-3 275 Jr. OL) and Rory Sullivan (6-1 280 Jr. C) . Both of whom will be 3 year starters on the line for the Senators. Defensively look for 6-6 220 pound DE Thamar Ott to potentially be the PIL breakout player of the year. Other individuals you can expect to get in the mix include Marquis Isom (5-11 165 Sr. ATH) and lockdown CB Jemare Manns (5-9 160 Sr.).
We will find out quickly where Madison stands as they will open the season hosting one of Seattle’s best in Rainier Beach.
11. Sprague –
GVC Defensive Player of the Year Teagan Quitoriano (6-6 220 Sr.) is back, and currently deciding between Oregon and Oregon St from a commitment standpoint. Add to this one of the state’s top ranked incoming Junior’s in Jailen Hammer (6-0 185 ATH) and returning 1000+ yard back Noah Mellen (117 carries, 1,062 yards, 15 TDs). These three and veteran 1st team all league QB Spencer Plant (1,547 yards, 18 TDs/8 INTs, 63.5% Com Pct) make the Oly’s a favorite to win the conference title.
My sleeper of the year for the 2017 season. Head coach Elvis Akpla has done a phenomenal job building this program over the last few years, as you will see the Pacers compete for a TRL title in the coming seasons. Jalen John (5-11 200 So.) is considered one of the top RB’s on the west coast for his class, already being offered by Oregon. He will run behind the state’s top Sophomore center in Kai Tinker (6-2 255 So. C), and potential All Americans Tiger Shanks (6-6 315 T So.) and TJ Jakmauh (6-5 285 DE/OL So.). It’s rare to have four returning all conference athletes that started as freshman as it makes the future extra bright.
2x all conference RB Nick Hoddevik is back, along with top underclassmen Will Scadden (6-3 180 Jr. WR) and Matt Petersen (6-0 190 So. ATH), who will be called upon often to lead and get in the end zone. The biggest loss comes at QB with Mike Irwin taking his talents to Oregon. Look for incoming Junior Charlie Maynes (6-0 170 QB) to do well as the coaches feel good about his future.
13. Oregon City-
Teron Bradford (6-0 175 Sr. WR/CB) is the most underrated player in the state. He is an unquestioned D1 kid that had his way with everyone last season going for 1,055 yards on 56 receptions and 20 TDs. Zakhayas Lee (5-10 175 Jr. RB/S) returns after earning 1st team all league honors as a Sophomore, and rushing for 1,215 yards and 15 TDs. He will be a double digit D1 offer athlete and a favorite for conference player of the year honors this season.
Rounding out one of the most dominant trio’s in Oregon is Ethan Kassebaun (6-0 190 RB/LB). If you don’t know his name yet, get used to it. The kids a beast on both sides of the football. The question for OC is do they have the depth at the other positions to compete, like in previous seasons.
14. West Salem-
Head coach Shawn Stanley is the man and continues to have his team winning GVC titles. There aren’t necessarily the big names that he has had in years past, but they should still be one of the better teams in the state. Simon Thompson (6-3 190 Jr. QB ) looks to be one of the most intriguing prospects in Oregon as he has size, and can run.
The Titans return 1st team all league RB Noah Whitaker (5-9 180 Sr.) and 2x all conference standout Christian Janes (6-3 245 Sr. TE/DE) who has D1 potential. Whitaker could thrive running behind four all league kids with experience in Owen Barrett (Sr. C), Maui Manu (Sr. G), and 6-3 245 pound Tackle Taylor Adams (Sr. T). Micah Pugh (6-3 195 Jr.) also returns after earning 2nd team all league honors at TE as a Sophomore.
15. Grants Pass-
It should be an interesting year for GP as the Cavemen have a solid nucleus back, led by D1 prospects Tayler Phillips (6-5 195 Sr. WR/ATH) and Rich England Jr. (6-2 225 Sr. LB). Phillips can play multiple spots on the field, recently being offered by Air Force, and earning 1st team all league honors in 2016. England will need to replicate his Junior season and be a guy that the defense can feed off of.
Give a lot of credit to Sophomore Blaine Hobbs (5-9 150 Jr.) who stepped in last year and ran the offense with no varsity experience. His overall athleticism makes up for his lack of size and should keep the team in games. Up front 2nd team all conference OL William Bartley (6-1 285 Sr.) will lead. He will be joined by fellow all SWC lineman Gerardo Rodriguez (5-11 230 Sr. C) and Stephen Young (Sr. OL)