Jon Eagle hired to lead West Linn football
The Eagle has landed.
And he's landed in West Linn.
In this case, the "Eagle" is Jon Eagle, and he's the Lions' new head football coach, following up on former coach Chris Miller's successful eight-year run. Miller went 77-18 at West Linn, leading the Lions to two state title games and their only championship in 2016.
Eagle, meanwhile, comes to West Linn with an impressive coaching resume of his own, going 127-22 and winning two state titles in 13 seasons at Camas High School in southwest Washington.
Eagle, 62, said he's excited to start the next step in his long coaching life. He previously served as head football coach at two other schools in Washington, at Evergreen High School in Vancouver from 1988-2001 and at Redmond from 2002-04.
"I knew Chris had taken this job and had great success," Eagle said. "I think it's recognized as one of the top programs in Oregon, and our goal is to keep that going."
In addition to his high school coaching credentials — he also assisted at Bend in 1983-84 — Eagle served as a graduate assistant at the University of Oregon, coaching defensive backs under Rich Brooks from 1985-87, and most recently served as quarterbacks coach at Portland State last year.
Indeed, it was that experience in the 2021 fall season at PSU — along with a serious push by West Linn defensive coordinator Anthony Newman (a former Oregon and NFL star) — that made Eagle consider a return to high school coaching.
"I saw this job, this opportunity came open, and through a lot of convincing by Anthony Newman, I find myself here," Eagle said. "I've done the college thing, and that's a different game in itself. I enjoyed that time. But you know, high school is a little more pure."
"I've been around for a long time, so it's just exciting for me to visit some of the fields and coach and become part of that Oregon history."
— Jon Eagle
The Lions roll into the 2022 fall season coming off a '21 Three Rivers League co-championship that saw West Linn earn the second seed to the Class 6A state playoffs and eventually bow out to eventual state runner-up Tualatin in the 6A semifinals.
While his time at West Linn is just beginning, Eagle likes what he's seen of the team's returners and newcomers so far.
"I think that what stands out to me (is that) we have a lot of long, lean, athletic kids," Eagle said. "We decided to install a new offense and I've been very impressed with how much they were able to pick up and use in just two weeks' time. They've been exceptional."
West Linn hopes to hit the ground running under Eagle's leadership in 2022, and if the Lions do, it will likely be thanks to the stability provided by Newman and the rest of the program's returning assistant coaches and coordinators.
Those coaches, as listed on the Oregon School Activities Association site, include Alex Molden, Newman, Chad Normoyle, Joseph Cerny, Renny Rector, Ron Chappell, Sai Poulivaati, Scott Gibson and Sean Farrell.
"I really acknowledge Anthony Newman in his role in developing our staff," Eagle said. "Without Anthony, the staff is not what it is today. … Just getting to know our coaches, and then watching them coach, I've just been extremely impressed with not only their expertise, but their character and their ability to teach. Without exception, I've been really impressed."
• 2021 Portland State, assistant head coach/quarterbacks
• 2008-20 Camas head coach
• 2004-07 Camas assistant coach
• 2001-03 Redmond head coach
• 1988-2000 Evergreen head coach
• 1985-87 Oregon, graduate assistant
• 1983-84 Bend assistant coach
• 1982 Linfield assistant coach
Eagle, who still lives in Camas with his wife of 36 years, Debbie, is retired from teaching and said he expects to spend plenty of time at West Linn, getting to know his players, recruiting additional athletes and making himself part of the culture at the school.
"There's some certain challenges to not teaching in the building and getting to know kids so I'm going to try to be here as much as I can to be available to kids," he said. "I think that's part of the job; a large part of the job is to just be around kids and talk about whatever."
While Miller left some big shoes to fill, Eagle brings his own impressive record of success to West Linn. In addition to his 13 seasons at Camas (including Class 4A championships in 2016 and 2019, five state semifinal berths and nine Greater St. Helens League titles), Eagle led Evergreen to an 84-38 record in 13 seasons and Redmond to an 18-10 mark in three years. In 29 seasons as a head coach, his overall head coaching record is 229-70.
Now, he's excited to learn about — and leave his mark — on Oregon high school football.
"(I'm excited about) learning more about the Three Rivers League," he said "Growing up in southwest Washington, I know a lot about Oregon high school football. … I've coached against (former Roseburg coach) Thurman Bell. I mean, I've been around for a long time, so it's just exciting for me to visit some of the fields and coach and become part of that Oregon history."
As to making his own footprint in West Linn, Eagle is ready to launch a new-look West Linn offense for the upcoming 2022 season.
"We're gonna do a lot of trending things that you see right now. We spread things out and we play fast," Eagle said. "We try to do a small number of things very well and try to be very good at executing what we do."
While it's early in his time with the athletes that will eventually make up the 2022 West Linn varsity team, Eagle likes what he's seen so far, especially the Lions' ability to learn quickly and think on the move.
"We've got a lot of bright kids who can pick things up and then ask really good questions," he said. "I kind of suspected that might be the case, but it turned out to be true. … I thought (spring practices) went really well. We wanted to show the kids and coaches a new way to practice. … It's the structure of it. If you want to play fast, you've got to practice fast."
And after that, as always in football, it's about players doing their jobs and making plays when opportunities present themselves.
"I look at coaches that fall in three categories. One is, we're going to mash you; smash you with more bodies. Or, I'm going to trick you. I'm going to try to outguess you and trick you. Or, and we fall into the third category, we're just going to out-execute you. We're going to do what we do, hopefully, better than you. That's the goal."
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