By René Ferrán
A look at some of the top players and teams to watch in Class 1A Oregon high school football
Players to Watch
QB/DB Cooper Bales, Sr., Dufur
Bales last season was a first-team all-state selection on defense, where he had 63 tackles (seven for loss) and six interceptions. He was second-team all-district under center, rushing for 1,283 yards and 21 touchdowns and throwing for 553 yards and five scores.
OG/DL Max Brown, Sr., Camas Valley
As a junior, Brown was a second-team all-state selection on both sides of the ball and his league’s Lineman of the Year, helping the Hornets reach the state semifinals for the first time since 2014.
RB/DE Christian Coleman, Sr., Hosanna Christian
An honorable mention all-state selection on offense last season, Coleman would have been key to the Lions’ hopes of a seventh consecutive state playoff berth.
TE/DL Trey Darden, Sr., Dufur
Darden was a second-team all-state selection on the defensive line last season, finishing with 36 tackles (nine for loss) and five sacks. He made the all-district second team on offense with 15 catches for 203 yards and three touchdowns. He signed with Eastern Oregon.
QB/LB Reece Dixon, Jr., Powder Valley
The Badgers last season made the playoffs for the first time since 2016 thanks to the contributions of their two-way standout, who received all-state honorable mention on defense.
LB Jerett Doman, Sr., Crane
Doman is a two-sport standout for the Mustangs, making the all-state second team on defense and finishing second at the state wrestling tournament at 195 pounds.
QB Conley Martin, Jr., Adrian
Martin has started both seasons for the Antelopes, earning state co-offensive player of the year honors as a sophomore in leading them to their first championship since 2014. He accounted for more than 4,000 total yards, throwing for 35 touchdowns and running for 36.
QB/LB J.J. Neece, Sr., Mapleton
Neece last season earned all-state honorable mention on defense, making 84 tackles, six sacks and three pass breakups for the Sailors, but the Western Oregon signee made even bigger contributions at quarterback, running for 2,533 yards (13.9 per carry) and 31 touchdowns and throwing for 983 yards and 13 scores. “Being a small-town kid, going from eight-man to Division II, that’s pretty good,” coach Jeff Greene said.
RB/DB Zeb Ramsden, Sr., Wallowa
Ramsden was a two-way standout for the Eagles as a junior, earning second-team all-state honors on defense and honorable mention on offense.
RB/LB Aaron Smith, Jr., Lyle/Wishram/Klickitat
The Cougars, a co-op of three small Washington schools in the Columbia Gorge, moved from the WIAA to the OSAA this year. Smith led the team with 133 tackles and five forced fumbles last season. He also will be the top choice to replace first-team all-state RB Brandon Montoya (now at Eastern Washington) after running for 625 yards and six touchdowns as his primary backup.
TE/LB Bryce Williams, Jr., St. Paul
The Buckaroos would have counted on players such as their two-way all-league selection — who last season had 22 catches for 367 yards and six touchdowns and made 53 tackles (five for loss), two interceptions and two fumble recoveries — in their bid to make the final for a third consecutive season and win the title for the first time since 2010.
Teams to Watch
Adrian (13-0 in 2019)
The Antelopes discontinued their co-op agreement with Jordan Valley to remain in the eight-man ranks, where they would have been a contender to defend their title despite graduating five all-league selections.
Camas Valley (9-1)
The Hornets last made the state final in 2012, when they won a second consecutive championship in a third appearance in a row. With Brown and three second-team all-league selections — senior LB Collin Ewing, junior QB Jared Standley and sophomore OL Kamalu Swift — they would have been in the title hunt.
Last season marked the first time since 2014 that someone other than the Rangers won the state title, but with Bales, Darden and five other all-league selections returning, their absence in the final might have been just a momentary blip.
Pilot Rock (6-3)
The Rockets ended their co-op agreement with Nixyaawii, costing them league player of the year Tyasin Burns — who ran for 2,382 yards and 17 touchdowns and had 96 tackles, four sacks and three interceptions as a junior — as well as first-team OL William Sigo. They do return first-team all-league QB Tanner Corwin and DE Caden Thornton to lead the defense of their first league title since 1985.
St. Paul (12-1)
It’s been a decade since the Buckaroos won a state title, but with Williams, senior RB/LB Jaden Thompson (433 rushing yards, seven touchdowns, 54 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks) and juniors Clancy Koch (37 tackles) and Payson Weise (23 tackles), the biggest question will be how well junior QB Lance Tuck replaces state co-offensive player of the year TJ Crawford.