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 third list focuses on the wide receivers.
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 receivers worthy of fans’ attention in 2021.
Darius Mims (Jesuit) photo by Taylor Balkom
Andrew Simpson, Sr., Mountainside
Simpson is one of the most dynamic playmakers in Oregon — he’s ranked No. 19 among the state’s top prospects according to 247Sports and recently signed with Western Oregon. He led the Mavericks with 42 catches for 587 yards and six touchdowns last season and ran the ball 52 times for 246 yards. “His best days are still in front of him,” Mountainside coach John Mannion said. “I’m excited to see what his development from his junior to senior seasons will be.”
Blake DiTullio, Sr., Summit
DiTullio garnered first-team all-MVC honors at wide receiver last season, making 37 catches for 443 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-foot-1 DiTullio could start both ways as a senior, but Summit has enough depth to keep him focused on offense. “He did amazing things at the end of last year in the league, and that’s how he ended up on the first team,” Storm coach Corben Hyatt said.
Braydon Thornton, Jr., Siuslaw
Thornton was one of two Vikings sophomores to receive 3A all-state honorable mention after making 65 catches for 1,552 yards and 15 touchdowns a season ago. “Braydon is a phenomenal athlete who has all the intangibles of a D1 football player,” Siuslaw coach Sammy Johnson said. “No matter who we are playing, he is always a step quicker and can jump a little higher. He will make a college coach very happy and is flying under the radar right now. Someone is going to look like a genius by recruiting him.”
Bryce Caufield, Sr., Lakeridge
Caufield transferred to Lakeridge from South High School in Torrance, Calif., after his mother got a job with Kaiser Permanente. As a junior, he caught 36 passes for 643 yards and eight touchdowns. He grew three inches and added about 40 pounds over the summer, making him an intriguing prospect for colleges and reminding first-year coach Spencer Phillips of Zach Ertz, an All-Pro tight end with his former employer in Philadelphia. “He’s grown into this monster, big and strong with strong hands and a good route runner,” Phillips said. “He’s just got tremendous upside.” He recently signed a preferred walk-on offer with Oregon State.
Bryce Caufield (Lakeridge) photo by Taylor Balkom
Carter Baggs, Sr., Barlow
The Bruins’ leading returning receiver, Baggs had 39 receptions for 431 yards last season, including an eight-catch, 114-yard game against Sandy and five catches for 87 yards in the Class 6A semifinal against Central Catholic.
Chance Costanzo, Sr., North Medford
Coach Steven Turner likened Costanzo to former Black Tornado star Jett Carpenter, an all-state receiver who now plays for Eastern Washington. Costanzo, a second-team all-SWC receiver last season, is 6-foot-2, weighs 190 pounds and will look to build upon a junior season in which he caught 27 passes for 410 yards. “He is a mini Jett,” Turner said. “Not quite as big, but he’s just like him. He’s a good one.”
Chance Miller, Sr., Canby
Miller thrived with the Cougars’ switch last season from the wing-T to a spread offense. He had 59 receptions for 963 yards and nine touchdowns (16.3 yards per catch), earning first-team all-Three Rivers honors. “He has one of the fastest first steps I’ve seen out of a wide receiver,” Canby coach Jimmy Joyce said, noting also that Miller is still learning the position. “For him to have the season he did is really impressive.” Miller is No. 43 in 247Sports’ rankings for the Oregon Class of 2021 and has orally accepted an offer from the Air Force Academy.
Clay Masters, Sr., West Linn
Masters received all-league recognition on both sides of the ball last season, garnering honorable mention at receiver (31 catches for 512 yards and six touchdowns). He has interest from several Division II schools. “An excellent two-way player,” Lions coach Chris Miller said. “He has very good speed and will be a top 3-5 wide receiver in the state.”
Clay Masters (West Linn) photo by Taylor Balkom
Cristian Gonzalez, Jr., Beaverton
Gonzalez quietly put together a solid sophomore season as a fourth or fifth option in the Beavers’ passing game, finishing with 23 catches for 381 yards and a touchdown. He figures to play as a slotback in three-receiver sets.
Darius Mims, Sr., Jesuit
Mims is the top returning offensive weapon for the Crusaders, catching 13 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns as a junior in their run-heavy attack.
Dawson Douglas, Sr., Crater
Douglas last season was half of 5A’s most potent receiving duo, finishing with a team-high 46 catches for 540 yards and nine touchdowns. He will see his spot in the formation shift throughout his senior year as new coach Berk Brown tweaks the offense. “We’re going to line him up wherever we think the matchup is the best,” Brown said. Douglas knows the playbook inside and out — as one would expect of the offensive coordinator’s son — so he’s more than up to the task. He signed with Southern Oregon this month.
Gabe Johnson, Sr., South Salem
Johnson starred on both sides of the ball as a junior, making first-team all-Mountain Valley at wide receiver with 25 catches for 459 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder is the son of decathlete Dave Johnson, who won a bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Johnson is rated a two-star recruit by 247Sports and holds multiple small-college offers. “Gabe is a college football talent and he runs really well,” Saxons coach Scott Dufault said. “He will be a three-year starter for us and is a very talented kid.”
Hagan Stephenson, Sr., Marist Catholic
Stephenson’s first start for the Spartans came three years ago in the playoffs. As a wide receiver, he was shut down by a future Pac-12 defensive player of the year (Talanoa Hufanga, then of Crescent Valley, now of USC). “Things have gotten easier for him since then,” coach Frank Geske said. Stephenson was named to the 2019 all-conference first team as a receiver, defensive back and kick returner, and he was a second-team all-state receiver with 42 catches for 644 yards and nine touchdowns. Geske describes him as a “little, quick, aggressive guy that makes plays all over the field.” Expect another massive season from Stephenson in every phase of the game.
Cristian Gonzalez (Beaverton) photo by Taylor Balkom
Isaiah Basargin, Sr., Kennedy
A second-team all-state honoree for the state runner-up Trojans, Basargin caught 29 passes for 647 yards (22.3 per catch) and eight touchdowns as a junior.
Jahleel Heath, Sr., Oregon City
The graduation of the Pioneers’ top two receivers means an expanded role for Heath, an honorable mention all-league pick who had 17 catches (four touchdowns) for 218 yards last season. He’s listed as a receiver but also will spend time in the backfield playing running back and, at times, a single-wing quarterback to maximize his touches. “Jahleel is a special player,” Oregon City coach Dustin Janz said. “His physical stature and athletic ability will be on display play after play. We are going to be finding creative ways to get the ball in his hands.”
Jake Trone, Sr., South Eugene
Trone went from relatively unheralded receiver to all-league first-teamer in 2019. How’d he do it? Simple: He’s very, very fast. “Jake is one of the fastest and most explosive players in the valley,” Axe coach Kenny Koberstein said. Trone will be the centerpiece of South Eugene’s offense in his final high school campaign.
Jalen Grable, Sr., Westview
Grable, the Wildcats’ 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 eschewed offers from Western Oregon and Central Washington to sign as a preferred walk-on with Oregon.
Jayden Brannan, Sr., Wilson
Brannan was the Trojans’ leading receiver last season, finishing with 37 catches for 621 yards and four touchdowns. He was first-team all-PIL on offense and signed with Portland State this month. Wilson coach Keith Bennett calls the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Brannan a gifted athlete with limitless potential as well as the consummate teammate, while PSU coach Bruce Barnum said, “Jayden is a multi-sport athlete and multi-position athlete on the football field. He can play just about anywhere and in time we will see where he fits best. He is talented, a great student and can play on either side of the ball.”
Jeremiah Noga, Sr., Hidden Valley
Noga made the 2019 all-league team at three positions — receiver, kick returner and punter — and was a first-team all-state wideout after making 76 catches for 1,331 yards and 15 touchdowns. His 18 catches in the state final set a championship-game record. He accepted a preferred walk-on spot to join his former quarterback, Sam Vidlak, at Oregon State. “He has a huge catch radius and tremendous hands — I don’t think he dropped too many balls last year,” Mustangs coach James Powers said. “He’s gotten much faster in the offseason and put in a lot of work.”
Jordan King, Jr., Central Catholic
King had a touchdown reception among his four catches in last season’s Class 6A championship game. That was part of a performance that Rams coach Steve Pyne characterized as King (17 catches for 230 yards and three touchdowns) coming into his own during the playoffs. “He’s an FBS talent,” Pyne said. “We expect his role on both sides of the ball to increase with the graduation of Silas Starr and Kalvin Souders.”
Jordan King (Central Catholic) photo by Taylor Balkom
Justin Winn, Sr., Burns
Winn has bulked up since last winter, when after earning first-team all-league honors at receiver (22 catches for 262 yards and a team-high five touchdowns), he won a state championship wrestling at 132 pounds. He’ll also serve as the backup quarterback, but he’s a much better fit at receiver. “He understands what he has to do to run routes,” Hilanders coach Terry Graham said.
Keenan Speer-Johnson, Jr., Tigard
Speer-Johnson has made a name for himself in passing leagues and on the recruiting circuit, where he’s received offers from recent bowl game winners Kentucky and Nevada, as well as Utah State. A wrist injury in Week 4 derailed his sophomore season, so he’s hoping to prove himself in live action this spring. “He understands the receiver position and how to run routes,” Tigers coach John Kemper said. “He’s got some skills, but he needs to prove it on the field. He needs his opportunity to shine.”
Kristian Fralich, Sr., Cascade Christian
Fralich was a three-way all-state honoree last season, making the first team as a returner (three touchdowns on 23 punt returns with a 14.5-yard average) and second team on offense (45 catches for 910 yards and 15 touchdowns) and defense. “He’s a dynamic athlete with great hands that is a big play waiting to happen,” Challengers coach Jon Gettman said. “He gets to top speed within a few steps and makes quick in-out cuts.”
Kristian Fralich (Cascade Christian) photo by Eunora Fralich
Kyron Albright, Jr., Beaverton
Albright played mostly at cornerback last season, getting limited snaps at receiver given the depth the Beavers had at the position and making just four catches. He looked great in fall passing leagues as he prepared to take on a leading role in the passing game this season as a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver. “I expect him to be a standout this year,” Beaverton coach Bob Boyer said.
Lawrence Matusik, Sr., Hidden Valley
Matusik earned first-team all-state recognition opposite Noga in the formation last season, catching 55 passes for 989 yards and 12 touchdowns. He signed with Western Oregon this month. “The best way to describe his game is that Lawrence is a running back built in a wide receiver’s frame,” Mustangs coach James Powers said. “He has a tenacity to his game. He’s very aggressive. It’s nice to have both him and Jeremiah out there — they’re both tall guys who move around well.”
Lucas Patterson, Sr., Marist Catholic
Patterson led Marist Catholic in rushing yards as a sophomore before moving to the slot and leading the Spartans in all-purpose yards (1,515) as a junior, catching 36 passes for 561 yards and three touchdowns. Coach Frank Geske described him as a “glider,” but Patterson is by no means slight — at 6-foot-1, he’s up to 195 pounds and squats more than double that. “He’s not a little kid anymore,” Geske said. Patterson was second-team all-state last season, and he has the tools to make the hop to the first team in his final high school campaign.
Luke Borchardt, Sr., Grant
The 6-foot-5 Borchardt, a first-team all-PIL selection in 2019, will continue to offer Logan Going a sizable target in the Generals’ spread offense. “He plays the ball in the air great,” Grant coach John Beck said. “He’s a vertical threat, big target, aggressive. He’s the real deal.” Borchardt (the No. 27 recruit in 247Sports’ 2021 Oregon rankings) has an offer from the University of Idaho.
Kyron Albright (Beaverton) photo by Taylor Balkom
Mason McAlpine, Sr., Toledo
McAlpine did not turn out for football in his first two years of high school, but when Jeff Taylor became coach last fall, he was pleasantly surprised that the gifted athlete he’d heard about showed up at practice. McAlpine made the 2A all-state second team on offense with 29 catches for 462 yards and five touchdowns. An all-state baseball and basketball player as well, he’s talked with several Northwest community colleges about playing baseball next year. “He’s probably one of the most natural athletes in 2A,” Taylor said. “The really good athletes make things look effortless, and on top of that, he’s got a great work ethic.”
Miles Williams, Jr., Clackamas
Williams, who was honorable mention all-Mt. Hood as a sophomore, has offers from Oregon State and Nevada as the No. 6 recruit in the state according to 247Sports. He was fourth on the team in receptions (29) and receiving yards (444) and tied for third with five touchdown catches last season. “He makes us very, very dangerous on offense,” Cavaliers coach James Holan said. “He can take the top off at any moment.”
Nathan Carter, Sr., Ashland
Carter has serious speed and serious football skills, but he also is a talented baseball player, which makes his role in Ashland’s football season a serious question mark. If he turns out for football, he’ll be a valuable weapon in the passing game after catching 30 passes for 393 yards and five touchdowns as a junior.
Nic Janati, Sr., Sunset
Janati led the Apollos with 35 catches for 329 yards and a touchdown starting as a slot receiver last season.
Nic Janati (Sunset) photo by Taylor Balkom
Nick Kennewell, Sr., Clackamas
Honorable mention all-Mt. Hood at wide receiver and as a kick returner last season, Kennewell tied for second on the team with 32 receptions and tied for most touchdown catches with six. He is a rangy 6-foot-2 and a “tremendous competitor,” Cavaliers coach James Holan said.
Noah Niblett, Sr., Marshfield
Two seasons ago, Niblett was thrust into a starting role when the Pirates took on Banks in a Class 4A semifinal. He’s been starting both ways since, playing defensive back and wide receiver, where he caught a team-high 45 passes for 613 yards and three touchdowns last season. He’ll return to both roles for his senior year, and his performance on both sides of the ball will be key for Marshfield — Pirates coach John Lemmons rates him as one of the program’s top pass-catchers.
Owen Hawley, Sr., Newberg
In the Tigers’ hybrid wing-T attack, receivers don’t get much love, but Hawley essentially was the team’s passing-game weapon last season, catching 24 passes for 544 yards and six touchdowns in earning second-team all-league honors. “He’s a big target for us out at wideout,” Newberg coach Kevin Hastin said. “With his experience and talent, I’m excited about what he can do.”
Payton Dart, Sr., Wilsonville
As a junior, Dart was first-team all-NWOC West and first-team on the 5A all-state team. He led the Wildcats in receptions (52), receiving yards (886) and touchdowns (12) in 2019, ranking among the Class 5A leaders in those categories in the regular season.
Riley Peterson, Jr., La Salle Prep
Peterson is coming off a strong sophomore season in which he was first-team all-NWOC East at wide receiver. He finished the regular season second in Class 5A in receiving yards with 763 (19.6 yards per catch) and sixth in receptions (39, including nine for touchdowns). “He’s a very good route runner, very good with his hands,” Falcons coach Aaron Hazel said. “He has a real knack for creating separation between himself and DBs. He’s right with James (Menor) as one of the best football players in the league.”
Tanner Saucedo, Sr., North Marion
Saucedo received all-state honors on both sides of the ball last season. “He’s just an all-around athlete, dynamic in every aspect,” Huskies coach Grant Carmichael said. “No matter where you put him, he’s going to excel. We’ve got a little trick for any team that tries to stop Tanner. There’s nothing they can do about him.”
Owen Hawley (Newberg) photo by Rockne Andrew Roll
Tanner Volk, Sr., Aloha
Volk earned second-team all-Metro honors on both sides of the ball as a junior, catching 46 passes for 847 yards and nine touchdowns. The Central Washington commit, who can play quarterback in a pinch, learned from an early age the ins and outs of the game as a fly on the wall during his father’s coaches meetings, sitting in the corner and absorbing everything. “His savviness has paid dividends. He always seems one step ahead of the play as it comes,” Warriors coach Bill Volk said. “He’s also blessed with some athletic gifts. He can throw the ball with either hand, kick, catch, has athletic hips and is a mobile kid.”
Tomas Veliz, Jr., Woodburn
He’s a wingback. A halfback. A receiver (team-high 29 catches for 420 yards and five touchdowns last season). He’s Woodburn’s put-him-anywhere-and-let-him-shine player. The son of the school’s boys basketball coach is committed to football as well. “He’s a great team guy,” Bulldogs coach Ken Mace said.
Tony Johnson, Sr., McMinnville
Johnson was the star in the Grizzlies’ passing attack last season, with his 33 catches (for 433 yards) accounting for half of the team’s receptions. He was a second-team all-conference pick at receiver. “He is one of our most dedicated athletes and best leaders,” McMinnville coach Ryan McIrvin said. “He is consistent and holds himself and his teammates to a high level.”
Tre Anderson, Sr., Jefferson
The 6-4 Anderson was second-team all-PIL on offense as a utility player in 2019. He led the Democrats with four touchdown catches and averaged more than 26 yards per reception. He signed with Portland State. “He makes plays,” Jefferson coach Houston Lillard said, “and does a lot for us.”
Trent Walker, Sr., Beaverton
Walker has interest from service academy teams and several FCS schools, with 4.52-second 40-yard speed and 2019 statistics — 72 catches for 1,010 yards and 11 touchdowns — that helped earn him first-team all-Metro honors on both sides of the ball and second-team all-state on offense. He recently accepted a preferred walk-on offer from Oregon State. “He’s gotten stronger and put on weight, and he looks great,” Beaverton coach Bob Boyer said. “He can do just about anything.”
Trent Walker (Beaverton) photo by Taylor Balkom
Trenton Hughes, Sr., Hood River Valley
The Eagles’ top receiver last season, Hughes had 31 receptions for 607 yards and nine touchdowns. He earned first-team all-NWOC East recognition at receiver and second-team recognition as a kick returner. Hughes has been a starter for Hood River Valley in the defensive secondary since his freshman season. Coach Caleb Sperry called him explosive and fast and said he combines that athleticism with good hands and a love of football.
Trevor Jaasko, Sr., Crater
Jaasko was voted to the 5A all-state first team after catching 45 passes for 731 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He draws attention whenever he steps onto the field — a plus for first-year coach Berk Brown’s game plan. “He can really stretch the field,” Brown said. “He can go up and get footballs. He’s that explosive type of kid out of the edge who’s going to force coverages to pull his way.” At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, he’s the prototypical high school X-receiver.
Tyler Cox, Sr., Glencoe
Cox received all-Pacific Conference recognition on both sides of the ball last season, leading the team with 39 catches for 378 yards and a touchdown in earning honorable mention at receiver. A 4.0 student and class president, he’s been accepted to the Naval Academy as he awaits word on a West Point appointment. “He will definitely be our top threat at receiver and makes sure that our defense rolls and functions well,” Crimson Tide coach Ian Reynoso said.