Wrestling coach Adam Reese takes over on the sidelines for the Hilhi football program

No matter how this year turns out for the Hillsboro football team, it will at least be better than the past couple of seasons.

That is because the Spartans went oh-fer each of the past two years, but they opened the 2013 season in winning fashion with a 24-12 victory at Liberty on Aug. 30.

The Spartans have a new leader in Adam Reese, but he is no stranger to either the school or the program. Reese graduated from Hilhi in 1992, he was the defensive coordinator on the Spartans’ Colt Lyerla-led 2009 Class 5A state championship team, and he is still the school’s wrestling coach

“The job came open,” said Reese, who did not coach on the gridiron the past couple of seasons. “I decided I still have an itching for football, and I care for Hillsboro.”

Reese plans to employ the same mentality with the football team as he does with his highly successful wrestling program — the Spartans took fourth place in Class 6A earlier this year — one based on expectations of outworking opponents. On offense, he has some talent with which to run the team’s shotgun spread offense, including junior quarterbacks Matt Jones and Garrett Paul.

“Garrett Paul is more of a natural, just finds a way to make a play,” Reese said. “He might not have the best technique in the world, but he’s going to make something happen, whereas Matt Jones has just worked so hard. He’s a leader, and he’s very technically sound in the way he does things. And he has command of the offense.”

Those two have a talented target in classmate Dylan Frederick, whom Reese said was named the top receiver at the Western Oregon camp the team attended. He hauled in eight receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons.

“He’s a playmaker,” Reese said. “He just has a knack to go up and get the ball, and he’s pretty fast and he’s fun to watch.”

Reese called Marshall Taunton a “possession-type receiver,” noted the versatility of senior leader Michael Gaskell, a running back and defensive back, and gave mention to running back/defensive backs Cricket Browning and Isiah Munch. He also described the linemen as the team’s unsung heroes.

On defense, key players include Isaac Nakamoto (middle linebacker), Hunter Morse and T.J. Cavender (linebackers) and Jackson Bayer.

In terms of numbers, the squad is a bit thin this year — Reese said last week that the combined total of the varsity and junior varsity teams was 50 players. And injuries are not helping, either — the team lost senior linebacker Alex Hallquist for the season due to a broken leg before the first snap against Liberty.

But the somewhat lower turnout, Reese pointed out, means that some of the program’s younger kids are getting in on the JV game and back up experience for the varsity contest.

The Spartans dropped a 49-22 decision to Hermiston at home last Friday to level their record at 1-1. They welcome city rival Century to Hare Field at 7 o’clock tonight. Other home games include Tigard on Oct. 11 and Newberg on Oct. 25. And as always, their rivalry game with Glencoe, slated for Sept. 27, will also be played at Hare Field, the home venue for both teams.

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