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MHC FOOTBALL PREVIEW: A talented young crew looks to build on last year's postseason success

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Reynolds running back Miles Wilson gets around the corner for a big gain last year vs. Clackamas. He rushed for 14 touchdowns in his sophomore season.

TEAM CAPSULES

REYNOLDS RAIDERS

The Raiders made some huge steps last season by going on the road and picking up their first playoff win in more than 20 years. The team looks to build on that success behind another talented group this fall.

"I'm a firm believer that winning breeds confidence," Reynolds coach Ryan Aldred said. "That success allowed our program to gain some notoriety around the school and it gave our students something to root for."

Last season, the program had 62 players turn out for fall practices. This year, the Raiders had 90 turn out and are one of only a few Mount Hood schools to field three levels of teams this fall.

This year's squad is bolstered by the return of running back Miles Wilson, who is the league's top returning scorer after finding the end zone 14 times in his sophomore season.

"He's a work horse for us — he doesn't miss a day in the weight room — he's relentless," Aldred said.

Moving into the quarterback spot is Dominique Miller, who was a slot receiver last season and served as the back-up behind center.

"He's a very cerebral kid, who is commanding the offense at the line of scrimmage," Aldred said.

His top target in the passing game is senior Nick Haynes, who finished with 24 catches last year — five of them finishing in the end zone.

The defense is anchored in the middle with Miles Wilson and his older brother Nathaniel in the linebacker spots.

"They play with instincts that you can't coach," Aldred said. "They compete with each other every day in practice — it's a neat dynamic."

Up front the defensive line is anchored by junior Jacob Ross, who has squatted 600 pounds and benched 350 in the weight room.

"He is the strongest kid on the football team — a physical specimen, who never quits," Aldred said.

The biggest focus for the Raiders this season is do develop more depth in its lineup.

"We don't want to have so many guys going both ways," Aldred said. "If you want to sustain success through a long season, you can't just play the same 12-15 kids."

BARLOW BRUINS

The Bruins are led by senior quarterback Jaren Hunter, who ranked second in the league last year with 1,766 passing yards while keeping a better than 2-for-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

"This is his third year under center for us — he's a really smart kid who doesn't make a lot of mistakes," Barlow coach Terry Summerfield said. "He has good command of the game and an ability to help everyone on the field."

His targets on the field change this fall after the Bruins graduated their top three pass catchers from a year ago. The biggest new addition is 6-foot-3 senior Durham Sundberg, who is playing high school football for the first time.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Barlow QB Jaren Hunter is back for his third season under center with the Bruins. He completed nearly 60% of his throws with 16 touchdowns last year.

The biggest change for the Bruins will be in the backfield with the graduation of halfback Jobi Malary (Portland State). That job now goes to senior Nick Collins, who missed last season with a leg injury.

Another strength for the Bruins comes up front with a senior trio of linemen in Jadon Morgan, Ethan Wallis and Jesse Wilson.

"Those are all big, strong, physical kids," Summerfield said.

Barlow's defense is anchored at the linebacker spots with Greg Payne and Andrew Collins, a starter as a freshman, in the inside spots. Collins, who Summerfield refers to as the 'hammer of the defense' patrols the edge.

Joe MacDonald returns at cornerback after leading the league with seven interceptions last year, while Evan Pugsley anchors the defensive line.

Team USA soccer player Carli Lloyd captured headlines this summer by kicking a 55-yard field goal following a Philadelphia Eagles practice. Barlow has a similar dynamic in play with all-state soccer player Abi Hoffman performing full-time kicking duties on Friday nights. She went 12-for-14 on point-after attempts while splitting time on the football field last year.

"She garners a tremendous amount of respect out there," Summerfield said.

Tonight's season opener against Bend also marks the official opening of the Bruins new home stadium.

"We are expecting great things," Summerfield said. "It's exciting and it will be great to have a couple thousand fans out at the games."

CENTENNIAL EAGLES

Centernnial returns senior QB Kyle Fitzgerald, who has been running the Eagles' veer attack since pee-wee football. Second-year coach Butch Self has tweaked the traditional heavy-run scheme by starting it out of the pistol formation which puts the QB several steps behind the line of scrimmage.

"We're still a veer team with some air-raid concepts — going out of the pistol gives a little better vision for our quarterback," Self said.

Self traveled to Georgia Southern to visit spring practices earlier this year.

"Kyle is doing a great job picking things up and our passing game is further along than it was at the end of the year last season," Self said. "He is super smart, so we've given him the freedom to audible and get us our of bad plays — he understands our concepts well."

Kahleed McCallister is the team's deep threat in the passing game, while Alex Ibarra is a double-threat at tight end.

"He's big, tall and fast and gives us a nice big target across the middle, but he is also solid staying in to block," Self said.

Senior Daniel Leyva gives the team a reliable ball-carrying option out of the fullback spot.

The defense relies on a mix of two-way players with Leyva at linebacker, while Fitzgerald and McCallister fill the cornerback spots Up front the defensive line may be the strength of the team with senior Gabe Steen along with juniors Kotya Lukyanenko and Taveli Cole.

"We were a young football team last year and it showed," Self said. "This year we're going to get down to what we do at Centennial and see what happens when the buzzer goes off after the fourth quarter."

The team will be without speedy halfback Jimmie Barton, most known for his track attributes, after he transferred to Prairie High in Vancouver over the summer.

GRESHAM GOPHERS

The Gophers are led up front with the return of all-league lineman Blaze Johnson.

"He has decent size and is pretty athletic. He also plays basketball, which gives him good feet," Gresham coach Mike Melton said.

Also on the offensive side is tight end Ethan Evans, who earned a starting spot as a sophomore and caught 12 passes.

"He's a tall kid with pretty good hands," Melton said. "We'll find ways to get him the ball."

The defense is anchored by a pair of returning linebackers in Austin Pick and Dylan Elgin.

"They get to the ball and they are pretty physical when they get there," Melton said.

The Gophers graduated more than 20 seniors from last year's team, leaving plenty of open spots in the starting lineup.

"We are going to be young with a lot of first-time starters, but our goal is the same as every year — we want to get better than we were the day before," Melton said.

DAVID DOUGLAS SCOTS

The Scots made a coaching change at the end of last season, bringing in Cal Szueber who has recent coaching experience at Roosevelt, Portland Christian and Fort Vancouver.

David Douglas has senior Dakota Lohmeier behind center after completing 17-for-30 passes with three touchdowns in a back-up role last year.

Former David Douglas coach Josh Dill landed the head coaching position at Sandy High, which came open early in the summer.


INSIDE THE #s

29.5

• Average margin of victory in MHC league games last season. Five games were decided by 40 or more points with the only one-possession game coming in the league title game where Clackamas defeated Central Catholic 24-22.

85.7%

• Point-after rate for MHC kickers, who booted through 221 of 258 attempts last season. The same group combined to hit 15-for-25 (60%) on field goals — the longest coming from 42 yards.

188

• Number of MHC touchdowns that were scored on the ground last season — 72 more than came as a result of a passing play.


2019 SCHEDULE

Friday, Sept. 6

Bend @ Barlow

South Medford @ Centennial

David Douglas @ Westview

Sherwood @ Sandy

Gresham @ Grant

Reynolds @ Roosevelt

Central Catholic @ West Linn

Friday, Sept. 13

Sandy @ Mountain View

Franklin @ Reynolds

Centennial @ Roosevelt

Madison @ David Douglas

Aloha @ Gresham

Tigard @ Barlow

Eastside Catholic @ Central Catholic

Lakeridge @ Clackamas

Friday, Sept. 20

Mountainside @ Sandy

Madison @ Centennial

David Douglas @ Aloha

Gresham @ Barlow

Roseburg @ Reynolds

Beaverton @ Clackamas

Sprague @ Central Catholic

Friday, Sept. 27

Glencoe @ David Douglas

Central Catholic @ Sherwood

Reynolds @ Mountainside

Centennial @ Century

Sandy @ Gresham

Barlow @ McNary

Tumwater @ Clackamas

Friday, Oct. 4

Gresham @ Jefferson, 6

David Douglas @ Franklin, 6

McMinnville @ Centennial

Sandy @ Sunset

Reynolds @ Newberg

Grant @ Barlow

Jesuit @ Central Catholic

Clackamas @ Lake Oswego

Mount Hood Conference games

Thursday, Oct. 10

Central Catholic @ Centennial

David Douglas @ Reynolds

Clackamas @ Gresham

Barlow @ Sandy

Friday, Oct. 18

Centennial @ Barlow

Gresham @ David Douglas

Clackamas @ Reynolds

Sandy @ Central Catholic

Friday, Oct. 25

David Douglas @ Clackamas

Reynolds @ Gresham

Centennial @ Sandy

Barlow @ Central Catholic

Friday, Nov. 1

MHC crossover games

Kickoff at 7 p.m. unless noted


The season preview is slated for our Friday, Sept. 6, print edition.


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