By René Ferrán, Mike Wilson, Bob Lundeberg, Paul Valencia and Rockne Andrew Roll
Over the next week, we’ll be taking a position-by-position look at some of the top players in Oregon high school football. Our second list focuses on the running backs.
There are hundreds of standout football players in Oregon and these lists are not intended to be comprehensive! Use the comments section to discuss the other backs worthy of fans’ attention in 2021.
Caleb Kim (Sunset) photo by Taylor Balkom
Andrew Teubner, Sr., Seaside
Teubner was all-Cowapa League on both sides of the ball last season. He rushed for 503 yards and two touchdowns as a junior. “He probably weighs about 170, but he plays a lot bigger than that,” Seagulls coach Aaron Tanabe said. “Just a tough kid.”
Blake Wolters, Sr., Heppner
Wolters made the all-state team on both sides of the ball last season, running for a team-high 999 yards and 16 touchdowns to help the Mustangs win the 2A state championship. He’s garnered looks from Pacific, Carroll College and Lewis and Clark. “Blake is 5-8, 155 pounds of chiseled granite,” Heppner coach Greg Grant said. “He’ll work as hard and as long as his body will take it. Whoever gets him will be surprised, because you look at him and discount him, but then you watch him play, and he just makes plays.”
Bryce Indell, Jr., Willamette
Indell has been making an impact since his freshman year. He’s always been a defensive stalwart, but he also spent time at running back last season and made the most of it by running for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns. “He gets the game; he loves to compete,” Wolverines coach Josh Wolfram said. “He’s one of our more physical players.” Indell isn’t just a brute — he posted a 4.7-seconds time in the 40-yard dash during fall workouts.
Caleb Benson, Sr., Nyssa
Benson took over for all-state back JoJo Sanchez (now at Idaho State) last season, and Nyssa’s rushing attack hardly missed a beat, with Benson named first-team all-league and all-state honorable mention. Willamette and College of Idaho have him on their radars. “He had limited reps behind JoJo, but last year, he just continued to flourish and had a great season,” Bulldogs coach Lee Long said. “If we do have a season, I think he should be the best running back on this side of the state.”
Caleb Kim, Jr., Sunset
Kim didn’t begin last season as a starter, but once he became a regular, he quickly became a key contributor, leading the Apollos with 625 yards and 10 touchdowns on 105 carries and catching five passes out of the backfield. “He ran fearlessly and very hard for a young guy,” Sunset coach Damien Merrick said.
Hewitt Sullivan (Tigard) photo by Taylor Balkom
Camp Lacouture, Jr., Sisulaw
Lacouture was the only Vikings player to receive all-league recognition on both sides of the ball during their renaissance season that saw them go from zero wins to six and their first playoff berth since 2014. He made the second team at running back, gaining 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns and catching 17 passes out of the backfield despite missing two games with an injury. “Camp is the epitome of a Siuslaw football player,” coach Sammy Johnson said. “He is the toughest guy on the field and finds a way to impact the game on both sides of the ball every game. Watching his film, you see that most of his yards come after contact.”
Casey Raz, Sr., Tualatin
As a junior, Raz earned second-team all-Three Rivers honors as a prototypical fullback, plowing holes for a lead back (Kainoa Sayre with 1,279 yards) and taking advantage of the few touches he received (six catches for 51 yards). “He has sure hands and is a dominant blocker,” Timberwolves coach Dan Lever said. “He will make a big impact for us this season.”
Cedrix Moses, Sr., Clatskanie
The second-team all-state selection played a major part in the Tigers’ run to the division title and a spot in the quarterfinals last season, shining in the single-wing by running for nearly 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns. New coach Judd Stutzman plans to install the spread this spring, which would significantly impact Moses’ usage.
Charles Willmott, Sr., Lincoln
A third-year varsity player, Willmott last season was first-team all-PIL on offense as a utility player. Cardinals coach Jeremy Johnson said Willmott has put on about 15 to 20 pounds of “good” weight since last season. “He’s always been a little undersized in his frame, but he’s as tough as they come pound-for-pound,” Johnson said. Willmott will head to Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., where he hopes to play football and basketball. Willmott gained 713 yards on 88 carries with 10 touchdowns and added 47 catches out of the backfield (six touchdowns) for 484 yards last season. “He’ll make plays happen where you’ll watch and say, ‘How did he do that?'” Johnson said. “We like to get him the ball in motion, going sideline to sideline (from the slot), but his vision and his ability to make guys miss make him the kind of guy you want to put in the backfield as well.”
Clay Peden, Sr., Sherwood
In an offense designed to share the ball among a wealth of players, Peden managed to stand out last season, garnering Pacific Conference offensive player of the year honors after rushing for a team-high 852 yards and 10 touchdowns and catching six passes (second on the team) for 146 yards. “He’s that guy who, when you look at us, you don’t think he’s a football player,” Bowmen coach Greg Lawrence said. “But he’s like Le’Veon Bell — he just waits for his blocks to take shape, sees the hole and he’s through it. He understands the halfback position in our offense. He has the ability to find a hole and is always getting positive yards.”
Clay Peden (Sherwood) photo by Rockne Andrew Roll
Damir Collins, Sr., Jefferson
A first-team running back and the PIL offensive player of the year last season, Collins, rated the No. 7 all-purpose back nationally in the Class of 2021 by 247Sports, signed with Oregon State in December. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Collins rushed for 2,453 yards last season, averaging 11.3 yards per carry, scoring 27 touchdowns on the ground and two on receptions. “He’s elusive, a good kid, strong, fast,” Democrats coach Houston Lillard said.
Devin Bradd, Sr., North Medford
Bradd put up monster numbers last season, rushing for 1,581 yards and 26 touchdowns (fifth in Class 6A). He was a first-team all-Southwest pick on offense and could be in the mix at outside linebacker as a senior. “Devin is a very powerful runner,” North Medford coach Steven Turner said. “He has good speed, not great speed, but his vision and strength are outstanding.”
Dylan Irwin, Sr., Monroe
While playing beside 2A offensive player of the year Zach Young in the Dragons’ veer offense last season, Irwin made the all-league first team and all-state second team and helped get Monroe to the state semifinals. In the Dragons’ final seven games, the fullback ran for 842 yards and 14 touchdowns.
EJ Broussard, Sr., Mountainside
Broussard was one of the top two-way players in the Metro League last season, earning first-team recognition on offense after running for 807 yards and 13 touchdowns and second-team honors at linebacker with 25 tackles and four sacks. He has received offers from Linfield and Southern Oregon. “He’s a real workhorse for us, just a super-talented football player,” Mavericks coach Brian Mannion said. “He’s capable of making big plays on both offense and defense.”
Gabe Olvera, Jr., Lake Oswego
Olvera was two-time 6A offensive player of the year Casey Filkins’ backup last season, yet he managed to get 72 carries for 444 yards and four touchdowns and finished with 11 catches for 76 yards and a score playing as a slot or outside receiver at times. “He’s a very good player who we tried to move around quite a bit to get him the ball,” Lakers coach Steve Coury said.
Gavin Haines, Sr., West Linn
Haines last season proved to be a more-than-able replacement for two-time all-state back Dawson Jolley, earning all-state honors himself while running for 1,620 yards and 21 touchdowns. Haines’ breakthrough junior season earned him a preferred walk-on offer from Oregon State, which he accepted over offers from Georgetown and Idaho State. “He’s a Jerry Rice 4.6-40 guy — he runs faster in games and doesn’t get caught from behind,” Lions coach Chris Miller said. “On defense, he’s tough against the run and can play man coverage.”
Gavin Haines (West Linn) photo by Taylor Balkom
Gauge Bloomer, Jr., Baker
Bloomer was a first-team all-Greater Oregon 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,” Bulldogs coach Jason Ramos said. “He’s a workhorse who will get the bulk of the carries the next two years.”
Hewitt Sullivan, Sr., Tigard
As a junior, Sullivan played primarily in the secondary, where he was a second-team all-league honoree, but he showed he was ready to take over lead back duties when he was pressed into a starting role in Week 9 against Tualatin. He finished the season with 203 yards on 33 carries. “He was an unknown to some people, but we knew he was talented,” Tigers coach John Kemper said. “He’s been working his tail off and been a leader when we’ve been able to get together. I’m excited to see what kind of season he can have.”
Hudson Davis, So., Newberg
Davis became a starter in the backfield four weeks into his freshman season and had an immediate impact, finishing third on the team with 445 rushing yards and scoring two touchdowns. “He’s another big-time player who helped the group as a freshman,” Tigers coach Kevin Hastin said.
Jake Spitulski, Sr., Clackamas
The Cavaliers’ leading rusher last season (56 carries, 269 yards, two touchdowns) earned all-Mt. Hood honorable mention at running back. “He’s a tremendous leader,” Clackamas coach James Holan said. “He’s one of those glue guys for us.”
James Menor, Sr., La Salle Prep
A third-year starter, Menor was first-team all-NWOC East at running back and kick returner last season. The dynamic senior led the Falcons with 441 rushing yards (6.5 yards per carry) and scored four touchdowns. “I think he’s one of the best football players in our league,” La Salle Prep coach Aaron Hazel said. “He’s going to play running back, he’s going to play some slot, play a little H-back. We’re going to do a lot of different things with him and find ways to get the ball in his hands.”
Josh Biever, Sr., Ridgeview
After being voted second-team all-Midwestern North last season at running back, Biever will play there and at wide receiver this year. “He’s one of the best athletes on the team,” Ravens coach Patrick Pileggi said. “He has a natural ability to be patient and see things develop.” Biever (5-foot-9, 150 pounds) amassed more than 1,100 yards rushing and scored 10 touchdowns on the ground as a junior. He is 100 percent after having knee surgery. Had high school football been played in the fall, Pileggi said, Biever would have missed the season.
Keith Moton III, Jr., Westview
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 2019 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,” Wildcats coach Ryan Atkinson said. “We’re expecting a big year from him.”
Kobe Hein, Sr., Centennial
After the out-of-state transfer of Centennial’s leading rusher from 2018 before last season, Hein was moved from slot receiver to running back. The move worked well enough that he was all-Mt. Hood honorable mention at the position. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Hein is also a wrestler whose toughness is evident on the football field. “We have a hard time getting him off the field,” Eagles coach Butch Self said.
Lucas Graves, Sr., Wilsonville
Graves (666 yards, 5.5 yards per carry), a first-team all-NWOC West selection last season, provides a bankable asset in the running game to complement the Wildcats’ high-powered passing attack.
Lucas Tuski, Jr., Marist Catholic
A second-team all-state selection in 2019, Tuski’s junior year will be a follow-up to a sophomore season in which he gained 1,206 yards on the ground and reached the end zone 23 times. Like most of Marist Catholic’s starters, Tuski is a monster in the weight room, squatting around 500 pounds. Spartans coach Frank Geske likened him to Herschel Walker and said, “He could be one hell of a linebacker, too. He’s a gem. I don’t know how in the world he isn’t immensely, heavily recruited.”
Hudson Davis (Newberg) photo by Rockne Andrew Roll
Luke Roberts, Sr., Mountain View
An honorable mention all-Mountain Valley selection on defense last season, Roberts is poised to be a difference-maker on offense as a senior. He rushed for 518 yards and five touchdowns a season ago behind first-team all-MVC back Keenan Harpole (1,615 yards, 24 touchdowns), but the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder is now the feature back. “He’s a special tailback,” Cougars coach Brian Crum said. “Three-sport athlete, student-body president, 4.0 student. We’ve had some special tailbacks come through our school, and he’s just as good as all of them.”
Malik Ross, Jr., Tualatin
The Timberwolves found plenty of ways to get the speedy Ross involved in the offense last season with 23 catches for 318 yards and three touchdowns and 15 carries for 149 yards and two scores. He’ll move from receiver to tailback to take over for all-state back Kainoa Sayre. “He has big-play ability. If he gets a seam, he’s gone,” Tualatin coach Dan Lever said. “He will carry much of the offensive load for us.”
Marcus Fullbright, Sr., Santiam Christian
Fullbright, a 3A co-offensive player of the year in 2019, went over 100 yards rushing in 11 of 12 games and finished with 1,777 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground. He caught 15 passes (two touchdowns) out of the backfield.
Michael Rincon, Jr., Jesuit
The biggest question mark for the Crusaders might be who will take over for Kade Wisher, who moved into fourth on the school’s single-season rushing list, and Ted Atkinson, who combined with Wisher for more than 3,800 yards and 54 touchdowns. Rincon, who had 21 carries last season, likely will get the first crack.
Miles Wilson, Sr., Reynolds
Wilson is a two-year all-conference honoree. He was first-team all-Mt. Hood at running back last season despite missing three games in the middle of the season with an injury. “He is a beast running the football,” Raiders coach Ryan Aldred said, “but I believe he is better on the defensive side.” 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.
Nate Garcia, Sr., West Salem
Garcia started as a junior and proved to be a capable back in the Mountain Valley Conference, rushing for 1,015 yards and 10 touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Garcia made second-team all-MVC on offense. “He is fast and athletic,” Titans coach Shawn Stanley said. “He is likely to be a Division III wide receiver or defensive back.”
Michael Rincon (Jesuit) photo by Taylor Balkom
Preston Ginter, Sr., McMinnville
Ginter, who transferred to McMinnville last season, instantly clicked with his new team, leading the Grizzlies with 844 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 138 carries and earning second-team all-Pacific honors. “He’s relentless in the weight room and showed his big-game potential with two 200-plus yard games,” McMinnville coach Ryan McIrvin said.
Price Pothier, Jr., Newberg
Pothier entered the lineup last season as an unknown and undersized sophomore and finished the season as one of the league’s top backs, running for a team-high 1,176 yards and 19 touchdowns and earning first-team all-league honors. He medaled at the state wrestling meet last year, placing fourth at 145, and has sculpted himself in the offseason in preparation for what he hoped would be a big junior year. “Price is a stud, and his transition to his junior year has been pretty impressive,” Tigers coach Kevin Hastin said. “He’s got great vision and runs at a great pad level. He was a physical runner last year at 155, and I was excited to see him play and get live reps this year.”
Royce Fasel, Jr., Glencoe
Fasel might be the best player to come through the Glencoe program in a generation. A Day 1 starter as a freshman, he made the all-conference team at three positions (running back, linebacker and kick returner) last season. He ran for 1,023 yards and 10 touchdowns and caught 23 passes out of the backfield. “He has just an amazing work ethic,” Crimson Tide coach Ian Reynoso said. “He’s destroyed his COVID offseason lifting plan — he is the strongest player ever to come through our program. He’s a wrecking ball. He’s been working on reading, reacting, changing direction, and his overall strength and durability.”
Slade Shufelt, Sr., Hillsboro
Spartans coach Dan Shuff is looking for huge things from Shufelt in his senior season. Shufelt was first-team all-NWOC West at running back as a junior. “He’s going to be heavily relied upon both offensively and defensively for us,” Shuff said. “We’re going to have to try to find as many different ways to get him the ball (as we can). We can’t just line up and run downhill play after play after play.” Now 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Shufelt averaged more than five yards per carry and rushed for four touchdowns last season. He participated in the Blue-Grey Football All-American Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in December and was chosen overall MVP of a Best Coast Showcase in late fall. He has received an offer from FCS Valparaiso in Indiana.
Spencer Sloan, Sr., Grants Pass
Sloan was the Cavemen’s second-string running back a season ago behind Jake Henricks but still rushed for 406 yards and six touchdowns. He was voted second-team all-SWC. “He is very fast and has great balance,” Grants Pass coach John Musser said.
Tanner Fletcher, Sr., Hood River Valley
As a junior, Fletcher was first-team all-NWOC East at running back and linebacker. The 5-9, 190-pound Fletcher gained more than 1,300 yards on the ground and had five games with at least two rushing touchdowns in 2019 — despite missing two weeks. “He has a low center of gravity, and he’s a guy who’s not going to go down with an arm tackle,” said Eagles coach Caleb Sperry, who called Fletcher’s toughness and physicality his strongest traits.
Zach Grisham (Central Catholic) photo by Taylor Balkom
Tobias Powers, Sr., Hidden Valley
While everyone focused on the Mustangs’ high-flying passing attack, Powers had perhaps the quietest 1,658-yard season possible, running for 17 touchdowns and earning first-team all-state honors despite playing through a broken toe suffered when he dropped a weight on it. Now 100 percent healthy, he’s choosing between Western Oregon, Southern Oregon and Linfield. “He’s a workhorse. He just grinds away,” Mustangs coach James Powers said.
Tyasin Burns, Sr., Pendleton/Nixya’awii
Burns attends Nixya’awii, a charter school in Pendleton that combined with Pilot Rock last season, when he was 1A Special District 3 West player of the year, running for 2,382 yards and 17 touchdowns. Pilot Rock ended the co-op agreement last summer, and its loss is Pendleton’s gain after the Buckaroos agreed on a one-year co-op. “He’s a great addition to our program,” coach Erik Davis said.
Zach Grisham, Jr., Central Catholic
Grisham was the Rams’ third-leading rusher last season, gaining 320 yards and two touchdowns on 53 carries (six yards per rush) backing up all-state pick Elijah Elliott (Montana State). Grisham “was very productive running the ball in a backup role last season,” Rams coach Steve Pyne said. “We expect him to shoulder a much larger role this year.”
Zannan Bane, Sr., Pendleton/Nixya’awii
Burns will have company in the Buckaroos backfield as Bane returns after being a first-team all-NWOC East selection last season. He amassed more than 650 yards on the ground and had multiple games with multiple rushing touchdowns. “He has gained probably 20 pounds since last season,” Pendleton coach Erik Davis said, noting also the athleticism that Bane — a triple jumper on the Buckaroos track team — brings to the field.