Westview football on the verge of a full-on breakthrough

By René Ferrán

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 Westview Wildcats of the Class 6A Metro League.

WESTVIEW TEAM PAGE

HEAD COACH

Ryan Atkinson, sixth season (20-30)

2019 AT A GLANCE

Overall record: 2-8 

League record: 0-5, tied for sixth in Metro

Playoffs: Lost 69-27 to Tualatin in first round

ALL-LEAGUE PLAYERS DEPARTED

P Caden Rickman, third team

PLAYERS TO WATCH

LB Riley Keppel, 6-3, 205, Sr.

Keppel is the only returning player who received all-league recognition last season, making the third team at linebacker after leading the Wildcats with 90 tackles (nine for loss) and six sacks. He has received offers from Eastern Oregon and George Fox. “He’s a very lengthy, athletic pass-rusher off the edge,” Atkinson said. “He’s a passionate player with a chance to play at the next level.”

QB Brayden Libby, 6-0, 170, Sr.

Libby went through an up-and-down season as a first-time starter. He was strong in the first two weeks, both victories, then struggled in his next two games and was briefly benched. He came back in the second half against Tualatin in Week 6 and regained his starting job, finishing the season 110 of 246 for 1,529 yards, 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. “He was challenged, and he responded in a positive way,” Atkinson said. “He faced adversity and didn’t quit, figured things out, and he came along really well by the end of the year.”

S Gabe Foster, 6-0, 170, Sr.

Foster accepted an offer to play at George Fox after a junior season in which he had 26 tackles and an interception. “Gabe does a lot behind the scenes and is one of our leaders on defense,” Atkinson said. “He’s an athletic player who’s always around the ball.”

RB/LB Keith Moton III, 5-9, 190, Jr.

Moton moved from Ohio and didn’t become eligible to play until Week 7, but once he did, he made an instant impact, finishing the season as the team’s second-leading rusher with 223 yards and a touchdown and catching six passes (one touchdown) out of the backfield. “He did some really good things for us and is a phenomenal player, definitely a next-level kid,” Atkinson said. “We’re expecting a big year from him.”

WR Jalen Grable, 6-4, 180, Sr.

Grable, the team’s second-leading receiver as a sophomore with 22 catches (six touchdowns), took last season off to focus on basketball. He returns to the program looking to reignite his football career. He has offers from Western Oregon and Central Washington.

WR/DB Isaac Perez, 5-11, 180, Jr.

Perez missed four games because of injury, finishing last season with eight catches for 112 yards as a slot receiver and 11 tackles in the secondary. “He’s very athletic and good with the ball in his hands,” Atkinson said.

WR/DB Drew Bennett, 6-1, 190, Jr.

Bennett was a swing player between the JV and varsity last season but showed his promise in his brief varsity stints, notching two sacks in three games and catching four passes. “He had a really good year for us,” Atkinson said. “He will have a tremendous year, for sure.”

WR/CB Kaden Huppin, 5-11, 175, So.

Huppin also received brief action on the varsity last season and should make an impact on special teams as a kick returner while learning from players such as Grable. He has interest from several Pac-12 schools. “He’s potentially one of the better athletes in the ’23 class,” Atkinson said.

RB Jordan Fisher, 5-8, 165, So.

Fisher scored 16 touchdowns to help the JV team go undefeated last season. Atkinson called him “a very, very dynamic player.”

OUTLOOK

The Wildcats team that takes the field this season will be missing several players who will be key components to what Atkinson hopes will be a breakthrough fall 2021 for his program.

Three top prospects — junior receiver Darrius Clemons (the state’s No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2022 according to 247Sports), junior running back Aaron Jones (who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1 last season) and sophomore quarterback Sam Leavitt — moved to Pleasant Grove, Utah, in the fall, helping the Vikings reach the second round of the 6A playoffs.

All three returned to Westview over the semester break, but an OSAA rule bars players who participated in a sport in the fall to play that sport in the same school year. That hasn’t dampened Atkinson’s enthusiasm regarding this junior class and the one following.

“I feel for our seniors this year,” Atkinson said. “But to look on the bright side, we’re fortunate that we have two strong classes back-to-back that we’re very excited about. That (junior) class is what we built for, what we’ve been building our culture toward.”

Two more of those youngsters who should receive plenty of playing time this season are junior Cooper Rogien (WR/DB, 6-4, 190) and sophomore Campbell Sager (OL/DL, 6-4, 250), all part of a pipeline that Atkinson believes will gush forth next fall.

COACH SAID

“Whatever we come up with, whatever we do, we will say good-bye to our seniors, but there is a bright future there. The three guys who went up to Utah got tested, and we have a couple of fun years coming up at Westview. We’re built to establish a playoff contender here.” — Ryan Atkinson

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