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 Baker Bulldogs of the Class 4A/3A Greater Oregon League.
Jason Ramos, second season (6-4)
2019 AT A GLANCE
Overall record: 6-4
League record: 2-2, second in 4A Greater Oregon
Playoffs: Beat Cascade 38-21 in first round; lost 34-14 to Banks in quarterfinals
ALL-LEAGUE PLAYERS DEPARTED
C/DL Sam McCauley, first team offense and defense
DB Andrew Adams, first team
WR/P Caden Long, honorable mention offense, first team punter
K/LB Mahonri Rushton, first team kicker, second team defense
RB/DB Alex Hammans, second team offense and defense
TE/QB Spencer Smith, second team tight end, honorable mention quarterback
DB Riley Flanagan, second team
PLAYERS TO WATCH
RB/LB Gauge Bloomer, 5-9, 190, Jr.
Bloomer was a first-team all-league selection on both sides of the ball last season, rushing for a team-high 713 yards and six touchdowns on 156 carries. “He’s a tough, downhill runner, one of the hardest-working players on the team,” Ramos said. “He’s a workhorse who will get the bulk of the carries the next two years.”
QB/WR/DB Kaden Myer, 5-10, 180, Sr.
Change is the theme for Myer this season. He was a first-team all-league cornerback in 2019, but Ramos is considering moving him to safety. After serving as the primary backup quarterback as a junior (9 of 19, 185 yards, three touchdowns, one interception), he’s set to battle Gabe Gambleton for the starting job. If he remains the backup quarterback, he’ll also remain one of the team’s top receiving options (17 catches for 177 yards and three touchdowns last season). Ramos called him “a dynamic playmaker and dual-threat quarterback.”
QB/WR/DB Gabe Gambleton, 6-0, 185, Sr.
Gambleton was an honorable mention all-league pick in the secondary despite playing most of the 2019 season with a fractured wrist. He also would play receiver if he loses the quarterback battle as Ramos wants to get him more touches after his injury hampered his offensive contributions last season.
OT/DE Jake Wright, 6-5, 240, Sr.
Wright last season was a first-team all-league selection on the offensive line and a second-teamer on defense, where he played tackle. He’ll likely move to defensive end this season. “He’s a long, rangy offensive tackle who will be playing at the next level,” Ramos said.
G/DE Ethan Myers, 5-11, 205, Sr.
As a junior, Myers was a first-team all-league pick at defensive end and a second-team guard on the offensive line. He could also play some tight end this season. “A tough, athletic kid with a motor,” Ramos said. “He’s a dominant defensive end who is tough to handle on the edge.”
LB Jake Eskew, 5-7, 150, Sr.
Ramos called Eskew, a first-team all-league selection at linebacker, “the most improved player for us last season and one of the best outside linebackers in the league, a gritty and smart player.”
OT/DT Mason VanArsdall, 6-2, 225, Sr.
VanArsdall is another solid two-way lineman for the Bulldogs who last season earned second-team all-league honors on offense and honorable mention on defense. “A big, athletic kid with good feet,” Ramos said. “He will be tough to handle in both spots this season.”
G/DL Zander Arriaga, 6-0, 225, Sr.
An honorable mention all-league pick on the defensive line, Arriaga also is an effective pulling guard thanks to his agility. “A savvy football player and solid two-way player,” Ramos said.
WR/DB Carlos DeLa Rosa, 5-9, 165, Sr.
DeLaRosa will take over one of the starting receiver spots opposite whichever player does not win the quarterback battle. He’ll also return kicks and play cornerback. “He’s quick with good hands, a playmaker,” Ramos said.
C/DL Payton Shirtcliff, 6-1, 190, Sr.
Shirtcliff will compete with junior Alex Ritter (6-0, 215) for the starting job at center.
The Bulldogs were well-positioned to make a deep playoff run this season, having graduated only three starters on defense and four on offense. Their four losses in 2019 were to eventual state champion La Grande twice, runner-up Banks and Idaho 3A runner-up Homedale (combined record: 34-2), and they advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since winning the 2012 title.
“Our kids felt good about getting the program back to the quarterfinals and had finals aspirations for the 2020 season,” Ramos said.
The biggest question marks are determining between Myer and Gambleton who will replace Smith and Spencer Shirtcliff at quarterback, and deciding who will take over for all-state center McCauley, whose leadership and ability will be difficult to replace.
“Both Kaden and Gabe are capable dual-threat athletes,” Ramos said. “They have both played the position as underclassmen, and I am excited to have their type of athleticism at quarterback.”
“A realistic goal for whatever our season looks like this year will be to win every game on our schedule. If the culminating-week game happens to be a matchup with someone outside our region, we expect to win that game as well. Our kids believe that. We will need to stay healthy and need to have a handful of younger kids step up and be contributors to the cause.” — Jason Ramos
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