By Mike Wilson
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 Reynolds Raiders of the Class 6A Mt. Hood Conference.
Ryan Aldred, fourth season (14-16)
2019 AT A GLANCE
Overall record: 5-5
League record: 2-2, tied for fourth in Mt. Hood
Playoffs: Lost 55-49 (OT) to North Medford in first round
ALL-LEAGUE PLAYERS DEPARTED
OL Xavier Glenn, first team
K Harith Al Obaide, first team
KR/DB/WR Reggie Akles, first team on special teams, second team on defense and honorable mention on offense
DL Kieran Johansen, second team
LB Nathaniel Wilson, second team
P LeeMikell Brown-Powers, second team
KR/WR/DB Nick Haynes, second team on special teams and honorable mention on offense and defense
QB/DB Dominique Miller, honorable mention on offense and defense
RB Keedin Branch, honorable mention
OL Emanuel Loeza, honorable mention
DL Leonardo Lozano, honorable mention
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Senior OL/DL Jacob Ross
Ross, honorable mention all-Mt. Hood Conference on the defensive line as a junior (and honorable mention on the offensive line as a sophomore), checks all the boxes for what Aldred looks for in a player. “You rarely find student-athletes with his drive and determination to be successful,” Aldred said. “He has willed himself to be where he is at.” Ross, 5-foot-10 and 225 pounds, is the Raiders’ strongest player; Aldred called him a monster in the weight room. “He has honed his skills on the football field, becoming a true challenge to block,” Aldred said. “His physical nature and relentless motor are difficult to combat.” Aldred said Ross, a team captain, can motivate with passion and words.
Senior RB/LB Miles Wilson
Wilson is another two-year all-conference honoree. He was first-team all-Mt. Hood at running back and second-team at linebacker last season, after getting honorable mention at running back and second-team at linebacker as a sophomore. Wilson earned the accolades despite missing three games in the middle of last season with injury. “He is a beast running the football,” Aldred said, “but I believe he is better on the defensive side. He is a naturally instinctive player at linebacker and does things that cannot be taught.” Wilson is No. 45 in 247Sports’ rankings of Oregon’s class of 2021 players. Also a team captain, Wilson leads by example. “He does not miss anything and always does the right thing,” Aldred said.
Senior C/LB Angelo Martinez
A third team captain, Martinez was second-team all-Mt. Hood Conference at center last season. “We have asked him to play a role offensively for us that you don’t find many 5-foot-7, 180-pound players play,” said Aldred, who added that center is the Raiders’ second-most important position behind quarterback. “He does it to an unbelievable level, allowing us to expand our offense in ways we could not do without him.” Martinez is looked to on defense, too, playing inside and outside linebacker thanks to his athletic versatility. “He has an unparalleled work ethic, good grades, but what makes him truly special is his character,” Aldred said. “He is truly a great person; he is the guy in the huddle who holds it together. He is the first to help other teammates, and he is selfless in everything that he does.”
Senior QB/LB Brendan Lynch
Lynch was all-Mt. Hood Conference at tight end last season, when he was the Raiders’ backup quarterback. “He will be the front-runner for the job this year,” Aldred said. Lynch had more than 50 tackles and four sacks last season from his linebacker spot, where he has started since his sophomore season. “He is a passionate player who just works,” Aldred said. “He never talks. He just does the job to the best of his ability.”
The Raiders of Troutdale followed their surprising run to the second round of the playoffs in 2018 with another playoff entry last season — and it took overtime before North Medford prevailed in a first-round slugfest. Before that, Reynolds was a failed two-point conversion attempt from possibly forcing overtime in a regular-season game against eventual semifinalist Barlow.
Entering last season, the Raiders had to overcome the loss of a few deeply talented players, but not terribly many of them. This season, seven players who were first- or second-team all-Mt. Hood Conference are gone, so the losses appear broader.
Most of Reynolds’ offensive players on the perimeter have graduated, as have many of the offensive linemen. The untraditional offseason and run-up to the season compound the effects of those losses.
“We have a lot of exciting players coming back, but we do have a number of holes to fill and positions that need to mature real fast if we want success,” Aldred said.
“We are going to be young overall, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t compete.”
Once again, the Raiders will have a first-year starter at quarterback. Lynch — a standout at tight end last season — appears to be the “next up,” but Aldred said there will be considerable competition for the No. 1 spot.
“Because of the nature of our offense, our backups have not seen much time,” Aldred said. “We ask a ton out of our quarterback. They must be cerebral, athletic and natural leaders — all while doing multiple things at the snap of the football.”
Results from 2019 were essentially chalk for Reynolds. Losses came only to teams that made the playoffs, including quarterfinalist Mountainside, second-rounder Newberg as well as Barlow.
“We have some good pieces coming back, but our challenge will be to bring along those other positions where we are less experienced,” Aldred said. “The shortened timeline does not aid in this, but we have a really committed staff who have been working with our kids virtually for months now, and an eager group of boys who are excited to get back on the field.”
“Our goals for the year are the same as they always are — we are going to prepare and play to the best of our ability. Our kids are eager, and I have no doubt that they will jump right in and put their hand on the ground. We never focus on the outcome; we focus on what we are doing each day to better ourselves as individuals and players. It’s our philosophy that if we can do the little thing right all the time, the outcome on Friday night takes care of itself.” — Ryan Aldred
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