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Expectations run high for Estacada High School's varsity football squad for the 2021-22 season

With a near perfect record in the spring, high preseason rankings and many returning star players, the Estacada High School varsity football team is ready to dominate the 2021-22 season.

Head coach Andy Mott is entering his ninth season as the team's leader and says this year's Rangers are looking to maintain their winning ways.

"We have gone to the playoffs five years in a row now," Mott said. "If you count last, which would have been a playoff year (without COVID-19), it would have been six."

Although the league cut last year's playoffs short due to the pandemic, the Rangers were still able to win five of six regular-season games.

With their dominating play and rising young stars, CBS Sports' high school website, MaxPrep, has the team ranked fourth in the Oregon 4A division.

Although Mott enjoys the recognition, he doesn't take too much stock on these early rankings.

"The (preseason) stuff is pretty fun, but it doesn't mean too much," Mott said. "There is so much parity with students leaving and new ones always coming in, but it gives you an idea on where some teams are."

Key players

Mott's focus is making the Rangers a well-rounded team that is versatile on both sides of the ball. Some would say that might be difficult since the team only has seven senior players, but Mott credits the younger athletes with a lot maturity beyond their year in school.

"This group has a lot of experience," Mott said, "We have a pretty complete team that could go deep into the playoffs."

Ranger's offensive line is one of the highlights. The team returns all of its front line, which should only improve its running game. The line is anchored by senior Devin Gotchall, who is a first round all-state player.

With a solid line up front, Mott is looking for senior Jake Behrman to cut through the gaps. Behrman can also be lethal on the defensive side as an explosive inside linebacker.

Mott also points to Behrman as the leader of the team.

"You know, he is a quiet kid, but he leads people by his play."

Slinging the ball and leading the offense this year is junior Cory James. The 6-feet-0 athlete took snaps during the spring season. Mott says James can open up the team's offense and allow the Rangers to take more shots down field.

Season expectations

Looking down the team's schedule, it faces stiff competition in the coming weeks. For Mott, it's the season opener that gives him the most to think about.

"I will be honest with you, week-one games are a little scary, because you really don't know what you have until you go out there," Mott said.

Beyond getting past the first game jitters, Mott is also looking forward to the team's home opener as the Rangers host Banks High School.

"If we were to circle some games on the calendar, September 10 would be on there for sure," Mott said about the team's first home game.

Probably the most important game will come against rival Gladstone High on Oct 1.

"The winner of that game will usually go on to win the division," Mott said. Gladstone is also the only team the Rangers lost to last season.

Regardless of the competition, Mott has confidence in his team's ability and knows they are more than capable of taking care of business.

"Our mentality is that we feel like we can go out and win every Friday," Mott said.

Players to look out for

• Devin Gotchall: offensive line/defensive line, senior

• Dominic Nacoste: offensive line/defensive line, junior

Jake Behrman: running back/linebacker, senior

Cory James: quarterback, junior

Waylon Riedel: running back/linebacker, junior

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