Milwaukie football enters 4A with a promise: ‘We’re going to get better every year from now on’

By Paul Valencia

Over the next few weeks, SBLive Oregon will break down every 6A, 5A and 4A football team in the state in anticipation of a six-week season in March and April. Even if the season is postponed or canceled, we will continue to highlight more than a hundred teams and more than a thousand players in Oregon. Here’s our look at the Milwaukie Mustangs of the Class 4A Cowapa League.

MILWAUKIE TEAM PAGE

HEAD COACH 

Colin Schaeffer, third season (2-15) 

2019 AT A GLANCE 

Overall record: 0-8

League record: 0-5, sixth in 5A Northwest Oregon Conference East Division   

Playoffs: Did not qualify 

ALL-LEAGUE PLAYERS DEPARTED 

Ian Ward, P (1st team)

Korbyn Amundson, RB (2nd team)

Isaac Vallejos, LB (2nd team)

Joey Walker, RB (honorable mention)

Juan Hernandez, RB (honorable mention)

Conner Rice, OT/DL (honorable mention offense and defense)

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Brody Thomson, junior, WR/DB

The Mustangs are hoping to put the ball in the air a little more this season, which means Thompson should be busy. Already a strong route runner, he has been working on improving that aspect of his game. Thompson played varsity as a sophomore, and he has added weight and strength in the offseason.

“He’s one of those guys that’s a real student of the game,” Schaeffer said. “A football junkie.”

Zane Garvey, junior, RB/DB

“He just loves football. He eats up everything you give him,” Schaeffer said. 

Garvey learned four positions on offense last season, helping out wherever he could. With seniors above him at running back, he did not get many opportunities there as a sophomore. Expect him to get plenty of carries this season.

Garvey is another of the juniors who played and learned a lot last season.

“All of them are working out like crazy,” Schaeffer said. “When the pandemic hit, they all invested in their home gyms. Sometimes you don’t know how much they’re doing. But in person, they all looked bigger and stronger. They learned as sophomores, size and physicality are huge components of being successful on Friday nights.”

Sean LaChapelle, junior, WR

At 6-4, LaChapelle presents a great target. But he needed to be more than tall, so he put in the work. 

“He looks so much stronger. He looks like the most physically improved guy,” Schaeffer said. “A step faster, stronger. Always been a smart guy. He knows how to use his body to his advantage. Now, he looks like a whole new kid. I didn’t expect him to be that much faster.”

Jake Cooper, junior, OL/DL

“Best guy on the line, both ways,” his coach said. “A real quiet leader.”

Cooper is 6-2, 240, and he is extremely athletic and very quick for his size. He’s coachable, too.

“He was one of our best players (last season), and he still has a tremendous amount of upside,” Schaeffer said.

Kaden Harris, sophomore, QB

Harris could have played varsity last season, but the coaching staff did not want to take any chances with him as a freshman. The goal was to have a successful freshman season, then join varsity with momentum. 

“He’s going to be the catalyst that turns this program around,” Schaeffer said.

A three-sport athlete, Harris is a hard worker and humble.

“He loves playing sports with a passion,” Schaeffer added. 

OUTLOOK  

Milwaukie has moved from Class 5A to 4A, a place more suited for the numbers of the school, Schaeffer said. Sure, the Mustangs will be in a tough league, but Schaeffer is looking forward to playing those teams.

“I think we’re going to be better than we were last year,” Schaeffer said. “Talent-wise, we’re going to get better every year from now on. Our youth program has been really successful.”

The long-term approach was to rebuild. This could be the first squad to see the rewards of that rebuild. 

“We’re going to be young, but I think we’ve got a lot of talent that’s developing,” Schaeffer said.

And, with mostly juniors and sophomores, this spring will be about getting experience. Then, most of the group will turn around and try to get even better for the fall of 2021.

COACH SAID 

Milwaukie High School has been in a rebuild. No, not just the football team. The entire school was renovated. That includes a new stadium.

“Our kids haven’t played on our own football field in years,” Schaeffer said. 

“We’re really excited to open a new stadium. Looking for something positive. It’s beautiful.”

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