By René Ferrán, Mike Wilson, Bob Lundeberg and Rockne Andrew Roll
The Oregon high school football season kicks off this week, and SBLive has rolled out a comprehensive statewide preview.
Here, our reporters examine each 5A team’s most irreplaceable player. Who is one player that if he were to miss a game, his team’s chances would take a big hit? We answer below.
Chad Overholt (Wilsonville) photo by Leon Neuschwander
Hood River Valley
Last season, senior RB/LB Tanner 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. “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.
La Salle Prep
First-team all-NWOC East as a junior, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior QB Ryan Rosumny was third on the 5A regular-season state leaderboard in passing yards (1,858), throwing 20 touchdowns and completing 65 percent of his passes. “We’re going to put a lot on his plate,” Falcons coach Aaron Hazel said. More than statistics, Hazel stressed Rosumny’s intangibles. “He is one of the two best leaders I’ve had the privilege to coach,” Hazel said. “It’s how he carries himself on and off the field. He has a way of getting his peers to follow him. He has a way of taking them places they didn’t think they could get.” Rosumny has been accepted to Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.
Senior OL/DL Ty Delgado should be the anchor of both lines for the Broncos. He was first-team all-NWOC East last season on both sides of the line of scrimmage and co-lineman of the year (an honor he shared with Oregon State-bound Henry Buckles of Hood River Valley). “We’re really looking for him to help set the tone,” first-year Broncos coach Brian Jackson said. Delgado, the No. 49 prospect in 247Sports’ Oregon class of 2021 rankings, earned honorable mention on The Oregonian/OregonLive Class 5A all-state team last season.
Junior LB/WR Kyle Liscom was a first-team all-NWOC East selection on defense last season, when he was near the top of the 5A leaderboard in tackles — as a sophomore. On offense, he earned all-conference honorable mention. If he shows the natural development expected with a year-plus of growth and maturity, he should be one of the top weapons not only at Pendleton but in all of Class 5A football. “He’s an all-around top-end player,” Buckaroos coach Erik Davis said.
Athletic senior OL/LB Jackson Balfour has played a variety of positions in his high school career. Even on the offensive line, he can play multiple positions. Putnam will expect Balfour to be the leader of the team’s linebacker group. “He adds flexibility to what we can do,” Kingsmen coach Tim Jacobs said. “He’s athletic enough to blitz and get after the quarterback but at the same time athletic enough to cover somebody in man-to-man coverage.”
A three-year starter, senior FB/DE Blaine Aamodt last season was first-team all-league as a defensive lineman and second-team all-league as a tight end. With Aamodt at fullback this year, Redmond will look for the versatile senior to do more than a traditional blocking back. “I think Blaine will be really dominant for us on the defensive line, as he was last year,” Panthers coach Seth Womack said. “He will equally be an asset for us on offense, leading the way for our running game and doing some things for us in the passing game. He can catch. He can run. He can do a lot of things that a lot of fullbacks can’t.”
After being voted second-team all-Midwestern North last season at running back, senior RB/DB Josh 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.
Junior TE/DE Andrew Savaiinaea returned to The Dalles, where he grew up, after playing his first two years of high school football at Eastside Catholic in the Seattle suburb of Sammamish. He immediately joined the ranks of the state’s top Class of 2022 recruits, currently sitting No. 5 with offers from nearly half of the Pac-12 schools. “He’s getting a lot of attention from Division I schools and is one of the top kids in the state at any level,” Riverhawks coach Andy Codding said. Savaiinaea is 6-feet-5 and 280 pounds and is being recruited as a defensive lineman.
Ryan Rosumny (La Salle Prep) photo by Taylor Balkom
Senior WR/DB Chance 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.
Opponents figure to make senior OL/DL Shane Parrow a point of emphasis in their game plans. He started on both lines last season and was second-team all-NWOC West on the defensive line. “He was one of the best defensive tackles in the league last year,” Vikings coach Perry Herbst said, “and he’s probably going to be the best defensive tackle in the league this year.” Built low to the ground at 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds, Parrow is “probably the strongest kid I’ve had in a long time,” Herbst said. “I think he’s going to cause problems for people.”
Spartans coach Dan Shuff is looking for huge things from senior RB/DE Slade Shufelt in his senior season. Shufelt was first-team all-NWOC West at running back and on the defensive line last season, and he earned all-state honorable mention on defense. “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.”
Senior TE/DE Brian Coburn started every game on both sides of the line of scrimmage last season. “He’s only continued to get bigger, stronger and more explosive since last season,” Scots coach Brandis Piper said, “so I fully expect him to have an even more of a breakout year defensively.” Coburn had 11 tackles for loss, 8½ sacks and two forced fumbles last season, when he earned honorable mention on the all-Mid-Willamette Conference all-star team. On offense, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Coburn has expanded his utility by making progress in the crispness of his pass routes. “He’s getting more comfortable and fluid catching the football,” Piper said. “With his combination of size and athleticism, he figures to be a dangerous weapon for us offensively in the pass game.” Piper called Coburn one of the hardest workers in the program.
Senior OL/DL Kobe Hubbard was second-team all-Mid-Willamette at offensive line as a junior and will be a third-year starter. At 6-foot-5, 290 pounds, he’s an athlete — he plays on the basketball team — not just a large body. “Athleticism is something that we don’t have to worry about with him,” Vikings coach Jeff Flood said. “He moves really well. He’s got really good feet. Combine that with his size and strength, that’s a pretty good combination for us.” Hubbard is No. 30 in 247Sports’ Oregon class of 2021 rankings.
Senior OL/DL Cutter Sandstrom, who is 5-foot-11 and 265 pounds, is one of the anchors on the lines. He was second-team all-NWOC West at guard and on the defensive line as a junior, and he is a standout wrestler. “He’s low to the ground, knows how to use his leverage,” Scappoose coach Sean McNabb said. “He’s incredibly strong. … If he gets his hands on you, you’re in trouble.”
Though not terribly big, 5-7, 185-pound senior RB/LB Jacobi Allen makes an impression when he carries the ball. “He’s a tough runner between the tackles,” Lions coach Cory Young said. The coach also praised Allen’s vision and his contact balance as a running back. After playing inside linebacker last season, Allen will move to an outside linebacker/defensive end hybrid position this season.
Senior RB/LB Chad Overholt had six touchdown catches among his 14 receptions last season and earned second-team all-NWOC West recognition at running back. At linebacker, he was first-team all-NWOC West and all-state honorable mention. A third-year starter, Overholt was among the team’s leaders in tackles in 2019 with 62 (three for loss).
Senior RB/LB Justin Girod is a true do-everything player for the Panthers. He is a returning starter at running back, where he made honorable mention all-Mid-Willamette in 2019. On defense, Girod was a second-team all-MWC pick at linebacker. He also is a standout punter. “Justin is one of the top tacklers on defense and will get a lot of touches on offense,” Central coach Joel Everett said.
Senior TE/LB Eric Wise was a first-team all-Mid-Willamette pick at linebacker last season, making a team-high 85 tackles. He can play multiple positions on offense. Corvallis coach Chris McGowan said the Spartans could use Wise at H-back, tight end and potentially running back. “He’s very motivated and he’s a little bigger this year and plays with that same energy at linebacker,” McGowan said. “He can play in a lot of different places, but his biggest impact will be on defense.”
Senior WR/DB Ian Smith was all-MWC on both sides of the ball as a junior and projects to be one of the Raiders’ top playmakers again this season. He is a rangy free safety on defense who likes to fly around and attack the ball. On offense, Crescent Valley will feed Smith and let him make plays. “We’re expecting him to have a very, very good year,” Raiders coach Mike Connor said. “In a normal year, he’d be a first-team all-conference kid, and maybe more depending on how we did.”
The most decorated returning player for Dallas, senior RB/DB John Hofenbredl was an honorable mention all-Mid-Willamette defensive back a season ago while earning second-team honors at kick returner and kicker. Dragons coach Andy Jackson said Hofenbredl had solid combine performances over the summer and is beginning to receive small-college recruiting interest. “He is extremely fast and athletic,” Jackson said. “He is a dynamic athlete for us and is also a physical and strong kid.”
A second-team all-state selection at defensive back last season, senior WR/DB Dane Sipos recently committed to Oregon as a preferred walk-on. Sipos has good size (6-foot, 185 pounds) and is a dangerous receiving threat (12 catches for 308 yards and five touchdowns). Lebanon coach Ty Tomlin said Sipos transformed his body during the offseason, adding muscle while maintaining his speed. “I really want a big season for him to highlight himself so he can see that reward on the field,” Tomlin said. “He’s a great athlete and one of the best DBs I’ve coached in a long time.”
An all-state honorable mention selection at linebacker last season, senior OL/LB Owen Magill is an impact two-way player who received first-team all-MWC accolades on offense and defense as a junior. Magill is likely to play both ways again for Silverton. “He just your old-school, blue-collar, gritty kid,” Foxes coach Josh Craig said. “If you ask the kids who the toughest guy on the team is, almost all of them will probably say Owen.”
A two-way all-Mid-Willamette Conference honorable mention recipient as a junior, senior OL/DL Austin McCormick is a sturdy, undersized lineman for the RedHawks. First-year coach Jeff Louber said McCormick provides leadership both vocally and by example on a team with many sophomores and juniors. “He is Mr. Dependable,” Louber said. “His attitude and effort is something I’m looking forward to the younger kids learning from.”
A second-team all-state pick on defense last season, senior TE/DL T.J. Zimmermann is a leader on both sides of the ball. At 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, Zimmermann has ideal size and excellent hands in the receiving game. “TJ is just a big, strong, wide kid,” Bulldogs coach Brian Mehl said. “He plays big roles for us on offense and defense.”
Ty Delgado (Parkrose) photo by Amanda Loman
A returning starting safety, senior QB/DB Hayden Ellis carries plenty of responsibility in coach Beau Lehnerz’s hybrid defense. His responsibility level will ratchet up as a senior as he’ll also take over for Rieger Sayre under center. “He’s different than Rieger,” Lehnerz said. “Hayden is an athlete. He can throw the ball pretty well, but he can also run the ball well. He’s a tough kid.”
At 6-foot-1 and a solid 275 pounds, junior OL Brycen Thomas is a formidable presence at center or offensive guard. “He’s really hard to beat in the trenches because he’s strong,” Lancers coach AJ Robinson said. His status as an all-league honorable mention selection as a sophomore backs that up, and his best is yet to come. “He’s a really good football player,” Robinson said.
Senior WR/DB Trevor Jaasko was voted to the 5A all-state first team in 2019 as a receiver (45 catches for 731 yards and 10 touchdowns) and 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.
Senior TE Reagan Scheffler brings more to the table than just all-league-caliber football skills. “Reagan is one of the most dependable players I have ever coached,” Eagles coach Erik Johnson said. “His influence has helped build the foundation for the future of the program.” Determination and leadership by example have made Scheffler invaluable not only on Friday nights, but as a foundational piece of a program that’s trying to build from the ground up.
A beast of a lineman at 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, senior OL/DL Jacob Hannah made the all-league first team on offense and defense last season and recently signed with Southern Oregon. He’s agile and strong and, more important, he’s taken on a leadership role in a critical position group. “He and his teammates are really spending a lot of time together, which we hope will translate into a very close group of guys on the offensive line,” Bulldogs coach Gary Prince said. “(He) is going to create problems up front for both offensive and defensive coordinators alike.”
Senior WR/DB Jake 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 the offense in his final high school campaign. He’ll also continue to play defensive back, where he earned second-team all-league honors last season.
Senior WR/DB Zach Sorber has been a multisport workhorse for the Millers throughout his high school career. “It feels like it’s his seventh year playing at Springfield High School,” coach Miles Haley said. A classic slot receiver with sure hands and an eye for space, Sorber also serves as a hard-hitting defensive back. Just as important, he’s an example for his younger teammates. “He’s a leader, and that’s what we need,” Haley said.
Senior WR/DB Dawson Muggy was first-team all-state as a defensive back and led Class 5A in interceptions last season after coming on strong during the run to the 2018 title. “That mindset shifted for him — he wasn’t just trying to compete, he was trying to dominate,” Colts coach Justin Starck said. He should return to the defensive backfield, as well as a wide receiver spot — though Starck noted that Muggy didn’t emerge at safety until late in his sophomore year because his role as the JV team’s quarterback limited his varsity playing time. That experience could come in handy, as Thurston’s QB1 spot is wide open after Cade Crist’s graduation. “He’s got a quarterback mindset, also,” Starck said.
Junior RB/LB Bryce Indell has been making an impact for Willamette 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 with nearly 1,000 yards. “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. Look for him wherever the ball is — and in conversations about the league’s most dominant players.