They've got a new quarterback and running backs, but they also expect to generate some offense

With an increased emphasis on defense, a new head coach and a new offense, the Rex Putnam Kingsmen expect to be more competitive in the Northwest Oregon Conference this fall.

A year ago they went 3-4 in the then eight-team conference (3-7 overall). They averaged scoring 24 points a game, but gave up an average of 40.5 points a game.

Photo Credit: JOHN DENNY -   Putnam senior leaders (left to right) Eamon Gallagher, Jeffrey DAuvergne, Tristan Smith and Brandon Culp say they like their new head coach, his emphasis on defense, and his wing-T offense.“We’ll be much better defensively,” said first-year head coach Tim Jacobs. “John Telesmanich is our defensive coordinator and he’s got a tremendous amount of experience. We’ve been working a lot on the fundamentals....”

“We’ve got a new coach, a new mindset and a new attitude towards the importance of defense,” said Putnam senior Eamon Gallagher. “We’ve put a big emphasis on defense, which we haven’t done before. Over the last few years, we’ve spent most of the time working on our offense, figuring if we scored enough points, defense wouldn’t matter. With our added emphasis on defense, I think it’s going to make a big difference. People aren’t going to be scoring 40 points on us every game.”

“We had the athletes to do something special last year,” said senior Jeffrey D’Auvergne. “But we didn’t have the coaching or the discipline. I feel like we can do some great things with the new coaching staff we have.”

“We’ve got a lot of kids back from last year,” said senior Tristan Smith. “With our experience, talent and the new coaching staff, I believe we can be very competitive in our conference this year — get to the playoffs....”

The Kingsmen this year have switched from the spread offense of former head coach Brad Lewman, to the wing-T of new head coach Tim Jacobs.

They’ve got a new quarterback in 6-3, 180-pound junior Jake Hamilton, who replaces Josey Swain (transfer to Molalla) and Cedric Brooks (transfer to Clackamas).

“He’s a smart kid,” Gallagher said of Hamilton. “He’s moved over from wide receiver to quarterback and he’s picked up our offense really well. He’s a good athlete. He played quarterback in eighth grade. He’s a dual threat. He can throw the ball and run.”

The Kingsmen have lost last year’s top running back, Richie Mock (transfer to Oregon City).

But Jacobs says he’s got a stable of running backs he believes can get the job done, including seniors Brandon Culp (6-1, 190), Gallagher (5-8, 155) and Samuel Jackson-Palmer (5-10, 170); junior Jesse Countryman (5-10, 185); and sophomores Beau Winters and Rocky Robinson.

As to team strengths, he lists: Team speed, the way his players move to the ball when they are playing defense, depth in the offensive and defensive lines, and work ethic.

Four lineman return with starting experience — seniors Juan Hernandez (6-0, 225) and D’Auvergne (6-0, 240), and juniors Zack Mason (6-0, 280) and Aaron Dolfay (6-0, 230).

Jacobs says he’s got several players with the potential to play small college football and many of them will see action of both sides of the football. Among them are seniors Gallagher (wingback/defensive back/wide receiver), D’Auvergne (defensive end/tackle), Smith (tight end/linebacker) and Culp (wide receiver/linebacker); and juniors Kane Stephens (6-4, 155 wide receiver/defensive back), Joe Jesse (6-5, 175 wide receiver/defensive back) and Mason (offensive and defensive line).

Jacobs said of Gallagher, “He’s a 4.0-plus student and he’s an extremely smart football player. You tell him something once and he’s got it.”

As to the Kingsmen’s potential, Jacobs said, “We’re going to just take it a game at a time. The conference has gained two tough teams in Hillsboro and La Salle, and it was already a tough conference. We’re going to have to come prepared to play some good football every Friday night.”

The Kingsmen host Sandy in this Friday’s NWOC opener. The Pioneers return a host of players from last year’s team that went 4-3 in conference and 6-4 overall, including senior quarterback Spencer Barnett and senior running backs C.J. McKinnis and Andrew Funk. The Pioneers prevailed 33-14 in last year’s game with the Kingsmen, played at Sandy.

The Kingsmen play cross-town rival Milwaukie at Milwaukie a week from Friday.

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