North Clackamas County high school football: Top players to watch in 2022
The high school football season is nearly back, with official practices already underway, jamborees set to begin on Thursday, Aug. 25, and official contests beginning Thursday, Sept. 1.
Before the season kicks off, we are identifying at some of the biggest names from around north Clackamas County. With programs spanning three classifications and six leagues, there is no shortage of football talent in the area.
(Note: As defined by Pamplin Media Group, the north Clackamas County area includes 14 schools in Clackamas, Gladstone, Happy Valley, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie, Oregon City, West Linn and Wilsonville.)
Below is a look at some of the top stars to watch this year in north Clackamas County high school football.
Clackamas Cavaliers (6A)
Brooks is one of the top college prospects in the state as a junior, already drawing offers from seven Pac-12 schools as well as Miami. He'll continue to be a force up front while Johnson-Gibson and Perez provide more flashy highlights on the gridiron. Johnson-Gibson had four interceptions a year ago, including one against Jesuit in the playoffs, and ran two back for touchdowns. Perez, meanwhile, transfers in from Tigard after receiving an all-league honorable mention and making the Les Schwab Bowl.
Lake Oswego Lakers (6A)
After earning the No. 1 seed in the 6A state playoffs a year ago, the Lakers lost a lot of talent to graduation. That said, Macy and West should be big factors on both sides of the ball once again, which should help Lake Oswego remain among the top teams in the Three Rivers League. Macy was an all-state honorable mention on defense a year ago, and he could be in for a big offensive breakout after rushing for 580 yards and six touchdowns in 2021. But all eyes will likely be on Brauner, who steps in at QB.
Lakeridge Pacers (6A)
Olsen and Davis are two of the top college prospects in the state, with the latter already committed to the University of Arizona and the former still weighing his many options. Olsen was a star for the Pacers as a sophomore, but Davis is a fresh face in the Lakeridge locker room after transferring from Wilsonville. Now on the same team, they will help lead the quest for the school's first state title since 1987. Joining Davis on the defensive line is Biondine, a second-team All-Three Rivers choice last season.
Nelson Hawks (6A)
The Hawks had a rough year in 2021, going 2-7 overall. However, it was the new school's first season ever. Head coach Aaron Hazel is excited about what he brings back. "We can't make any excuses this year about being young," said the second-year coach, "as we return the most starters of anyone in the league." Hazel noted that Julison has had a great summer and shined at the Metro Lineman Challenge in July. He should be a big factor on offense and defense along with Kirsch and Hunt.
Oregon City Pioneers (6A)
With the Three Rivers League stacked as per usual, it will be tough sledding once again for the Pioneers in 2022. Oregon City should be able to draw on a strong defense, though, led by Fry and Swanson. Those two were both All-Three Rivers League second-team selections a year ago, and Kelly was one of four returning Pioneers to receive an all-league honorable mention on that side of the ball. On the other side of things, Jake Hood and Jacob Nimo anchor a veteran group on the Pios' offensive line.
West Linn Lions (6A)
After earning the No. 2 seed in the 6A playoffs last season before falling in the semifinals, look for the Lions to make another run at the state championship. With new head coach Jon Eagle at the helm, and Leavitt — a Washington State commit — transferring in from Westview to take over QB1 duties, West Linn is all in on 2022. Among the returning all-state selections, Hamper is one of the top dual threats in the state, and Ingle leads the linebacking corps as the Lions' most ferocious tackler on defense.
Putnam Kingsmen (5A)
Headlined by Eveland, a Les Schwab Bowl invitee and the only freshman to earn all-district honors, Putnam has a very strong offensive line which also features senior Tobey Bagley, an all-leaguer in his own right. "We have the most talented [offensive line] that we have had in a number of years," Jacobs said. The coach also praised Selfors for his "natural knack for getting into the backfield and wreaking havoc" as a pass rusher. Creswick, meanwhile, tied for the league lead in receiving TDs and was second in catches.
Wilsonville Wildcats (5A)
Ogden was just about an automatic first down for the Wildcats last year. The rising senior averaged 9.4 yards per carry on 65 attempts, leading to eight rushing touchdowns for Wilsonville. Those numbers earned him an honorable mention on the 5A all-state offense as a junior — all while splitting carries in a crowded backfield. Hiday, meanwhile, led the team in touchdowns with nine and scorched opponents to the tune of 26.3 yards per reception. Gutridge could have a breakout year at quarterback.
Gladstone Gladiators (4A)
Gladstone made the 4A playoffs last year after finishing second in its special district, and the Gladiators will look to ride their staunch defense again in 2022. Finnegan and Owen were both first-team all-district a year ago on defense, and Owen also made first-team offense as a wideout.
La Salle Prep Falcons (4A)
The Falcons will be hoping that they will have better fortunes at the 4A level after going winless in 5A a year ago. The offense will once again be guided by Dominitz, the team's senior quarterback, while Lavoie figures to be a key cog at the point of attack on both sides of the ball for La Salle.
Milwaukie Mustangs (4A)
It has not always been smooth running for the Mustangs, but second-year head coach Tim Price will have seniors at key positions this season. Harris is the unquestioned leader of the team as the senior signal-caller, and he will look to Smith early and often in the Milwaukie passing game.
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