Sandy High football looks to write a new chapter in the same book with new coach Josh Dill taking the helm from Joe Palomalu over the summer.
Dill spent the past 16 seasons on the coaching staff at David Douglas, the past two as head coach, before the Scots opted for a change at the end of last season. Dill shifted gears to Sandy, getting hired on to the football job and in the school's physical education department the first week of July.
"I knew I wanted to keep doing this, and I'm walking into a good situation where Joe did a great job creating an atmosphere of respect — I'm excited to be here," Dill said.
One of the first things Dill noticed was the family atmosphere of the Sandy program, as his introduction to the team was highlighted by summer activities such as the Pioneers' team luau and it's 'Mom's Night' session.
"Walking into this level of support is humbling," Dill said. "It's got that suburban town feel — a real family atmosphere."
The late hire meant an abbreviated summer leading up to the season, but Dill hit the ground running with hour-long drill sessions following weight-room workouts.
"I'm an offensive-minded guy, but we are going to keep a lot of what this team has done in the past," Dill said. "It's going to be go time soon."
This year's squad returns senior QB Chet Chamberlain, who completed more than 60% of his passes last year with an almost 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
"He's a physical kid, and he can fling the ball," Dill said.
Also in the backfield is senior running back Colby Carson, who gained more than 500 yards on the ground last year and found the end zone five times.
"He has tremendous balance and vision," Dill said. "He's really hard to bring down."
Up front, the Pioneers are anchored by Nick Olsen at center and sophomore Ethan Lucore at guard.
Defensively, Carson and Orion Shaw cover a lot of ground at the linebacker spots, while Ford McKinnis and Gabe Wontowski are disrupters on the defensive line.
"They are really good at getting off the line and into the backfield," Dill said.
The Pioneers also have a kicking threat rare at the high school level in senior soccer player Ryan Escareno. He ranked second in the league last season by booting four field goals, although his biggest attribute is expected to be on kickoffs.
"Teams put their best players back there to return kicks, so if you are putting the ball into the end zone for touchbacks it really limits an opponent," Dill said.
Dill has seen Escareno hit field goals beyond 40 yards in practice and is just as impressed with his willingness to join in on the teams conditioning drills even after putting in a full soccer practice.
Sandy opened the season last Friday with a 52-9 loss to Sherwood.
AROUND THE MHC ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kahleed McCallister is the team's deep threat in the passing game, while Alex Ibarra is a double-threat at tight end.
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.
The Gophers are led up front with the return of all-league lineman Blaze Johnson. Also on the offensive side is tight end Ethan Evans, who earned a starting spot as a sophomore and caught 12 passes.
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," Gresham coach Mike 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.
This preview is slated for our Sept. 11, print edition.
INSIDE THE #s
• 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.
• 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.
• Number of MHC touchdowns that were scored on the ground last season — 72 more than came as a result of a passing play.
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
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