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Coach 'Jed' returns after a three-year run as an assistant on Steve Pyne's staff at Class 6A Central Catholic High School

PMG PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Gladstone coach Jon Jedrykowski expects the Gladiators to repeat as Tri-Valley Conference champions and make another deep run in the OSAA Class 4A football playoffs.Jon Jedrykowski is all fired up for his second go-round as Gladstone High School's head football coach.

If it's anything like his first go-round, he just might put the Gladiators in position to make a run at another Class 4A state championship.

Jedrykowski, 41, has been at this game a long time, and most of it at Gladstone. He spent 13 seasons as a Gladiators' assistant (2001-13), two as their varsity head coach (2014-15), and then three as an assistant coach on Steve Pyne's staff at 6A Central Catholic in Northeast Portland.

In April, Jedrykowski was again named varsity head coach at Gladstone, replacing Wayne Harris, who resigned after a three-year run that ended with the Gladiators losing to Seaside in last season's 4A semifinals.

"It's good to be back," said Jedrykowski, who led Gladstone to a state title in 2014. "I missed the community, I missed the kids, I missed the high school, and I missed the small-school atmosphere.

"Despite the success Gladstone had during the few years I was gone, there's a lot of work to do to get the program pointed in the direction I want it to go as far as coaching, team expectations, and the way we carry ourselves as a program."

The Gladiators graduated 11 seniors off last year's 8-3 playoff team, but they return a solid nucleus led by an all-senior offensive line that features Josh Heywood at center, Brady Fox at right guard, Andrew Gray at left guard, Andy Czernik at right tackle, Stefan Smith at left tackle, and J.P. Peterson at tight end.

Senior quarterback Hudson Meyer, who started as a sophomore and then served as a backup to Jake Gehrke last season, returns to the starting role this season, joined in the backfield by senior tailback Mason Scheehean and junior fullback Sabastian Peiffer.

Senior receiver/wing back Jaxon Jedrykowski, the coach's son, is anohter player who is expected to get his hands on the ball. He also is next in line to play quarterback if anything happens to Meyer.

"Hudson is doing a nice job and is a great leader at quarterback," Jon Jedrykowski said. "He gets the kids fired up from time to time, because he's fairly aggressive.

"He throws the ball well and has a good arm and has good velocity. With him, it comes down to making the correct reads and not trying to force the ball into places it shouldn't go."

The Gladiators plan to run a wing-T offense that also has "room to expand," the coach said.

"There are some other things we'd like to do offensively," Jedrykowski said. "We're just trying to figure out if it's going to work for us. We've got a good bunch of athletes, but can we spread the ball out a little and get it into the right hands in some of the different personnel packages?"

Three and out

Jedrykowski believes in having his best 11 athletes on the field at all times, which means many of the same players who are projected to start on offense will also start on defense.

Gladstone's defense will operate out of a 3-4 scheme with Czernik, Fox, Gray, Heywood, and Smith rotating up front. Senior Carlos Rodriguez is projected to start at the weak-side, inside linebacker, Peiffer the strong-side, inside linebacker, Peterson at one outside linebacker spot, and either Jude Ashpole or Scheehean at the other.

In the defensive secondary, senior Blake Harman and Meyer are expected to start at the two cornerback spots, with junior Ryan Lee at free safety, and Jaxon Jedrykowski at strong safety.

"We have a really good group of seniors and most of them have been playing together since they were third-graders," Jon Jedrykowski said. "I coached a few of those teams and I've been watching them from the stands the last few years.

"Getting to be around them again, they've worked their butts off all summer in the weight room and they've already had a couple really good days of camp. They're energetic, they're enthusiastic, and they just have to work on being a brotherhood, understanding that we're in this together.

"We've got to have each other's backs and trust that the guy lining up next to us is going to do what's right. I think that's a key."

The Gladiators return many of the same assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Bill Gates and defensive coordinator Dan Lee. They also have added Jon Wolf, the former head coach at Madison, Putnam, Gladstone, and Milwaukie, who came out of retirement for the second time in five seasons to coach the Gladiators' offensive line.

Gladstone is scheduled to host a four-team jamboree with La Salle Prep, Molalla, and Sweet Home on Aug. 30 and then opens the regular season at Banks against the defending Class 4A state champions on Sept. 6.

The Gladiators play two other non-conference games on Sept. 13 at Marshfield and Sept. 20 at home against Seaside before the Sept. 27 league opener at Estacada.

"Those first three games are important because they're obviously against good opponents," Jedrykowski said. "If we win then, that's great, but if we lose them, I don't think it's going to hurt us any in the power rankings.

"Our goal is to compete, get ourselves into the fourth quarter with a chance to win, stay healthy, and then go into league and feel like we have a really good shot at winning a league championship and putting ourselves in a position to have home-field advantage in the playoffs."

It isn't anything the Gladiators haven't done before.

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