Tigard looks to keep on rolling in 2019
So far, so good.
And, if things go they way the Tigard High School football team wants them to, it can even get better.
The Tigers, under the guidance of first-year head coach John Kemper, could be in for big things in the 2019 season.
"We're in a good spot," said Kemper, who has been as assistant coach at Tigard the past 10 years. "It's a process, and the kids have really picked things up. We're playing at the speed we want to be playing at."
The Tigers have some key returnees from last year's team that finished second in the Three Rivers League standings at 4-1, while also going 10-2 on the season, where their reached the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
Tigard also has some strong newcomers, a lot of speed and a powerful tradition.
The Tigers have a couple other things going for them.
"We have a lot of promise, and we have a lot of potential," Kemper said. "But that can be a dangerous word. The first week went well. We're at a good place, but we have a long way to go."
Drew Carter (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) may only be a junior, but he's beginning his third season as Tigard's starting quarterback.
"We're looking for him to have a great year," Kemper said. "We're looking at him to be consistent, make the right reads and take command in the huddle."
Last year, as a sophomore, Carter completed 108 of 193 pass attempts for 2,168 yards and 20 touchdowns, with five interceptions, when he earned second team all-Three Rivers League honors.
Tigard looks to have three running backs who can get the job done in senior Josh Burns (5-11, 175), junior Hewitt Sullivan (5-9, 150) and senior Hunter Gilbert (5-8, 170). Last year, Burns ran for 154 yards on 16 carries, while Sullivan had 135 yards on 14 carries.
"All three have good speed," Kemper said.
That's for sure. Last spring, Gilbert ran to second place in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, while Burns placed in both the 100 and 200 at the Class 6A state track and field championships.
Senior Cole Scott (6-1, 200) returns at fullback for the Tigers. He could also see action at tailback.
"We've got good depth at running back," Kemper said.
That looks to be the same situation at receiver, where the Tigers have sophomore Keenan Speer-Johnson (6-2, 170), senior Max Lenzy (5-10, 175), senior Tyler Penn (5-10, 180), senior Jaaron Kletzel (6-1, 160) and junior Mathew Otness (5-10, 150). Last year, Lenzy had 19 catches for 400 yards and three touchdowns.
"We have six-to-eight guys that I feel confidence in at receiver," Kemper said. "We have a lot of speed there."
Lenzy, Kletzel and Otness teamed with Burns to finish in fourth place in the 4 x 100 relay at last spring's Class 6A state track meet.
Tigard has a pair of big targets at tight end in senior Andrew Carter (6-4, 195) and senior Kameron Hosley (6-6, 200).
"They've got good size and speed," Kemper said. "And they block the perimeter really well."
In the offensive line, Tigard returns just one starter, senior right guard Johnny Nomani (6-2, 290), who was a first-team all-Three Rivers League pick a year ago. But Kemper doesn't seem worried.
"It can be a strong spot," he said of the offensive line. "We've got four spots to fill, but we take a lot of pride in being strong up front. It may take awhile, but we'll get there."
Junior Aden Murphy (6-3, 220) will be at left tackle. Senior Bryce Goetz (6-2, 260) will be at right guard. Junior Edward Beglaryan (6-0, 205) will be at center and senior Erik Schulz (6-2, 210) will be at right tackle. Junior Owen Hagen (6-3, 225) and senior Brayden Zolkoske (6-6, 320) will also see action on the offensive line.
The Tigard defense is led by Lenzy, who returns at cornerback. Last year, Lenzy intercepted 10 passes on his way to sharing the Three Rivers League Defensive Player of the Year honor.
"He had a remarkable year," Kemper said. "Hopefully, he can piggyback off of that this year."
Burns also returns at cornerback. Last year, he was an honorable-mention all-league pick. Penn, Gilbert and Otness will all see action at safety.
"We're deep at defensive back," Kemper said.
In the defensive line, Tigard will have Nomani, Goetz, Schulz, Zolkoske and Hagen all seeing time. Nomani was an honorable-mention all-league pick on the defensive line a year ago.
"We like rotating in the defensive line, to keep them all fresh," Kemper said.
Scott and Murphy will be at the inside linebacker spots. Hosley and Andrew Carter will play at outside linebacker.
"We want to be fast, physical and aggressive on defense," Kemper said.
Tigard has another weapon in senior kicker Jackson Cleaver (6-1, 190). The left-footed Cleaver, who also starts at goalkeeper for the Tiger boys soccer team, made 63 of 68 extra-point attempts, and nine of 12 field-goal attempts, including a 41-yarder, a year ago, when he was a second-team all-Three Rivers League selection. Cleaver will also handle the punting duties.
"He's got a special leg," Kemper said.
Lenzy, Gilbert and Burns could end up handling kick and punt returns.
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