Lakeridge players, coaches say they already sense a renewed commitment to good sportsmanship

Photo Credit: REVIEW FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lakeridge quarterback Eric Dungey tries to avoid a Jesuit defender during the Pacers season-ending loss in the 2013 playoffs.  All eyes will be on Lakeridge High when it takes the field for the first time this year in what could be its most important football season in school history. But if the Pacers are feeling any additional pressure following last year’s rocky campaign, they aren’t showing it.

“I don’t feel any pressure to win games this year,” said Vice Principal and first-year Head Coach John Parke. “Certainly that’s something we want to accomplish, but the pressure is for us to perform in a different way and to present ourselves as gentlemanly scholar athletes.”

Sophomore lineman Jack Holum agreed.

“We’re feeling pretty good,” he said. “We feel we’re going to clean up and change what we did last year, because we don’t want that to be our reputation.”

Lakeridge’s 2013 woes began about this time last year when volunteer assistant coach Michael Cole allegedly struck defensive lineman Marqueese Royster during a practice. That led to Cole’s arrest and, eventually, to a lawsuit against the school district.Photo Credit: REVIEW FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lakeridges penalty-ridden loss to Jesuit in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs capped a year in which opposing coaches were often critical of the Pacers undisciplined play.

Shortly before the season started, a power struggle between then-head coach Tom Smythe and his offensive coordinator, Chad Carlson, began to heat up. By midseason, it had boiled over, with Smythe stepping away from the sidelines and eventually retiring early.

The Pacers’ 2013 season ended with an ugly, penalty-riddled playoff loss against Jesuit, although letters critical of the team’s conduct had been sent to the school throughout the season. During a highly publicized offseason, Lakeridge was fined and placed on probation for four years by the Oregon School Activities Association. And when the school opted to keep Carlson on the football staff after hiring Parke as head coach, controversy continued to swirl around the team.PARKE

But players and coaches alike are confident that Lakeridge has fixed its issues from last season — and they are eager to prove it on the field.

“We know we just have to play smart,” said defensive standout Joel Schwarz, “and make sure that we keep our heads during the game.”

Quarterback Eric Dungey agreed.

“We just want to wipe the slate clean,” Dungey said. “I think we’ve always played with a chip on our shoulder. That’s a good mentality to have. But we’ve definitely learned our lesson, and we’re going to try to be as respectful and sportsmanlike as we can.”

That shift in attitude has been apparent throughout the summer, Parke said.

“Everyone who was involved with last year’s team has said that we’re 100 percent in front of where we were at this point last year,” he said. “The kids have been working hard since May and have been in the weight room. It’s a complicated offense and defense and we’re doing a lot less teaching this year.”

Athletic Director Ian Lamont said the school has made it very clear who is in charge of the team and that all of the players and coaches are on the same page.

“We have a true head coach who has been there every day and who is responsible for doling out the discipline. Everyone knows coach Parke is in charge and that the buck stops with him,” Lamont said.

Much of the same staff from last season is back this year, although in slightly different roles, and Lamont said he has submitted proof that all of the coaches are properly certified for the season. That wasn’t true in 2013, and the Pacers were dinged for it in an offseason investigation by the OSAA.

Specific steps and consequences have also been laid out to crack down on personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Dave Robbins, commissioner of the Portland Football Officials Association, addressed Lakeridge football players during a meeting earlier this month to explain the rules and to offer advice on issues such as how to behave when provoked.Joe Sindlinger hauls in a pass over two Jesuit defenders in the Pacers quarterfinal loss. Lakeridge was called for more than 200 yards in penalties, and tempers flared on both sides in the second half.

“If there is a personal foul that occurs during the flow of the game, like a face-mask penalty, that player will have to come off the field for at least a play. If he gets another one, he’ll be out for the half. And if there’s another, he’d be done for the game,” Robbins told the players. “If it’s an unsportsmanlike penalty, something that happens after the play, he’d be done for the half for the first one. And if he gets three for the season, we would sit down with him and his parents to talk about a potential suspension.”

Lakeridge has also formed the Pacer Success Committee, which will include Lamont, Parke, Principal Jennifer Schiele, two rotating senior players, three parents involved in the football program and two parents who are not involved in the program. The committee will meet every Monday to discuss the previous week’s game and other issues that may have come up over the week.

“We’ve tried to be very transparent this year,” Lamont said. “But we know that we can’t change anything until we take the field.”

Lakeridge will play in a jamboree against Century this Friday and opens up the regular season on the road Sept. 5 against Sheldon, a team predicted to be one of the best in the state this year.

For Dungey and his teammates, the season can’t start soon enough.

“As a senior, I definitely want to put last year behind me and go out with a bang,” Dungey said.

Added receiver Chase Clark, “We’re all teenagers, and we just want to play football.”

Contact Matt Sherman at 503-636-1281 ext. 104 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Reporter Jillian Daley contributed to this story.

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