Marshfield football looks like one of 4A’s top teams … but are the Pirates the best team in Coos County?

By Rockne Andrew Roll

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 Marshfield Pirates of the Class 4A Sky Em League.

MARSHFIELD TEAM PAGE

HEAD COACH

John Lemmons, fourth season (25-7)

2019 AT A GLANCE

Overall record: 5-4

League record: 3-1, second in Sky Em

Playoffs: Lost 28-22 to Banks in first round

ALL-LEAGUE PLAYERS DEPARTED

RB/LB Josiah Niblett, first team offense and defense, co-offensive player of the year

TE/DB Tandy Martin, first team offense, second team defense

OL/DL Robert Fisher, first team offense and defense

OL Ryan Knight, first team  

PK/P Arturo Ledesma, first team kicker and punter

LB/WR Liam Webster, first team defense, second team offense

OL Miles Calhoun, honorable mention  

DL Traver Matthews, honorable mention  

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Dominic Montiel, jr., QB

Marshfield’s starting quarterback, Montiel returns for his junior campaign after earning all-league honorable mention as a sophomore. “He’s more mature, and I think he’s gotten a little faster,” Lemmons said. “I think he’s growing all the time, trying to learn what we do and understanding the ins and outs of our offense. Maturity-wise, there’s a big difference between a sophomore and a junior.”

Ezra Waterman, jr., RB/WR/LB

Waterman started at middle linebacker in 2019, and he was talented enough to be the only sophomore named to the all-state first team. He also played running back and slot receiver, and he will return to all three roles this year — though Lemmons wishes he didn’t have to play Waterman both ways. “I wish we had more depth where we didn’t have to do that,” Lemmons said.

Noah Niblett, sr., WR/DB

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 wide receiver and defensive back, a position at which he earned all-state second-team honors in 2019. He’ll return to both roles for his senior season, and his performance on both sides of the ball will be key for Marshfield — Lemmons rates him as one of the program’s top pass-catchers.

Pierce Davidson, jr., WR/DL

Davidson is 6-foot-7, making him an excellent target for Montiel in the passing game. Consistency will be a key area for improvement in his junior year. “Some days he can’t drop a ball, some days he drops some he shouldn’t drop,” Lemmons said. “He’s put a little weight on, and he’s gotten a little faster.”

Hayden Murphy, jr., OL/DL

The returning starting center, Murphy has rapidly established himself as a leader of the line and the entire team. “He’s kind of rallied some guys around him, and they’ve been working hard in the offseason,” Lemmons said.

Shaun Skinner, sr., OL/DL

Skinner played running back before last season. Depth in the rushing corps and a dearth of linemen moved him to guard and defensive tackle. “He was reluctant at first, but he’s embraced it now,” Lemmons said, adding that Skinner is “one of the strongest kids on our team.”

Maddux Mateski, jr., WR

For those who follow high school sports on the southern Oregon coast, the idea of a Mateski in a Marshfield jersey is a strange one, as a long lineage of the family has played in, and coached for, the brown and gold of the Pirates’ bitter rival, North Bend. Mateski will play wide receiver in purple this year, and Lemmons is excited about it. “I used to coach against his dad, Woody,” Lemmons said. “Having Maddux over here has been a big blessing.”

OUTLOOK

“I always have three goals every season,” Lemmons said. “The first one is to beat our crosstown rival, the North Bend Bulldogs. The second one is to be league champs. The third one is to be state champs.”

The first goal wasn’t met last season, a one-score game against Marist Catholic was the only thing preventing the second, and a loss to state finalist Banks ended hopes of the third. Most of that team, however, is back for another go — and will be back again when, hopefully, a typical football season takes place in the fall. 

“There’s lots of variables,” Lemmons said. “We’ve got some talent and some good kids.”

With the young talent the Pirates are putting on the field, Marshfield should remain competitive for both of 2021’s seasons. Lemmons is looking forward to a chance to have another shot at Banks in a future playoff.

“They’ve been our nemesis,” he said.

In the coming spring season, the second and third of Lemmons’ usual goals are off the table. That leaves the Pirates with one goal — to beat the Bulldogs. With the likelihood of a one-off bowl-style postseason, the last game of the season will have a lot of influence on that matchup — and Marshfield’s regular-season finale is against North Bend.

“It’s going to go back to how it was for decades — it’ll be the last game of the year,” Lemmons said. “It’ll determine a lot.”

And while North Bend is a talented team, so is Marshfield. It’s a recipe for the best Civil War game in a long time. 

COACH SAID

“They were a big, physical, good team and we were a bunch of sophomores — we kind of looked like deer in headlights at times.” — John Lemmons on last season’s rivalry game against North Bend, which Marshfield lost 51-6

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