Joe Bushman plans to build on football momentum at Lewis & Clark
With five weeks of spring practices behind it, the Lewis & Clark football probram has taken the first steps of its next era.
Joe Bushman, who led Clackamas High to the 6A state title in 2017, is the new head coach as the Pioneers look to build on a couple of their better seasons in recent memory.
Bushman, who has been an assistant coach at the southwest Portland college since 2019, takes the reins from Jay Locey. Locey led the Pioneers for seven seasons and announced his resignation in February. Locey currently is the running backs/tight ends coach for the USFL's New Jersey Generals.
"We feel like we're on a real good path," Bushman said. "Coach Locey brought back a degree of respectability to the program. We plan to take what he built and take it to the next level."
Lewis & Clark won three games last season and four in 2019 (there was no 2020 season), the first consecutive seasons of three or more wins since 2011-12.
Bushman served as offensive coordinator for those teams and the Pioneers' offense averaged 29.3 points and produced 2,260 passing yards.
Bushman said tasting a bit of success has improved the enthusiasm around the program.
"They know they're getting closer (to a winning season) and they're really hungry," Bushman said of his players' engagement during spring workouts.
Bushman credits Locey, who coached Linfield to six Northwest Conference titles and one NCAA Division III title before joining Mike Riley's staff at Oregon State in 2006, for turning the Pioneers into a team that competes each Saturday.
In addition to skill development, Bushman said adversity response was a focus this spring. He said the Pioneers have struggled at times to stay positive and focused when opponents make big plays or grab momentum. He wants his team to be able to roll with the punches.
As with any team, building chemistry, commitment and work ethic into the fabric of the program is a priority. "We've emphasized a blue-collar work ethic in the weight room and building togetherness," he said.
Bushman noted that, unlike high school where coaches spend a lot of summer with their players, he and his staff won't have much contact with their players until August.
That means it's on the players to do the workouts and weight training necessary to be ready to compete in the fall.
There are challenges on Palatine Hill that Bushman is embracing. The academic requirements of Lewis & Clark require a lot of time and effort, which naturally shapes the recruiting process. Bushman said he is excited to have some Portland-area athletes joining the program, which recruits heavily from California.
Northwest Conference power programs Linfield and Pacific Lutheran usually have around 130 players on the football roster. Lewis & Clark had 70 players last fall. Bushman said he anticipates having 80 on the 2022 roster.
Most of Bushman's coaching staff has been at Lewis & Clark for several years. Defensive coordinator Randy Heath arrived in 2018 after being head coach at Grant High. Former Pioneers' defensive back Forrest Sherman is in his second year coaching that position.
Former Lewis & Clark quarterback Mike Machado (2015-18) returns to be offensive coordinator after three seasons as a graduate assistant coach for San Jose State. Special teams/defensive line coach Bruce Read, who came to Lewis & Clark in 2019, has extensive special teams coaching experience in the NFL and at major college programs.
Tom Sunseri (football operations) and Renato Felina (offensive line) are veteran coaches who in 2019 came with Bushman from Clackamas High to Lewis & Clark. Former South Carolina standout running back Marcus Lattimore (running backs/player development) is entering his third year at Lewis & Clark.
Small college notes — Lewis & Clark senior third baseman Jack Thomson from Millbrae, California, was named the Northwest Conference Baseball Player of the Year.
Thomson led the NWC in batting average (.450), home runs (14), doubles (20), on-base percentage (.614), slugging percentage (.946) and runs scored (56). Should he choose, Thomson is eligible to return in 2023 for his pandemic bonus season.
• Pacific won the NWC baseball tournament and a berth in the Division III regionals. The Boxers will learn on May 16 where they will play in the regionals.
Senior catcher Isaac Lovings, a Sunset High grad, was one of the top hitters in the NWC this spring and one of four Boxers named to the all-conference first team. Redshirt freshman Patrick Muskat, a Central Catholic High grad from Beaverton, was second-team all-NWC.
• Northwest Conference softball champion Linfield will play in a NCAA Division III regional May 13-15 and will learn which of eight regionals its in on Monday, May 9.
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