By Mike Wilson, Bob Lundeberg and Jarrid Denney
This month, SBLive Oregon is previewing every Class 6A, 5A and 4A high school football team in the state leading up to the 2021 fall season.
Today, we examine the quarterback situation for each of the 32 Class 5A teams in Oregon. Who are the starting signal-callers? Who are the backups expected to push the starters for playing time?
Note that the information provided here reflects where things stood as camps opened. Be sure to follow SBLive Oregon throughout the season for the latest on what’s happening with each team!
Chace Pence (Churchill) photo by Leon Neuschwander
Earlier: 6A QB breakdown
NORTHWEST OREGON CONFERENCE EAST
Hood River Valley
The Eagles’ hope is that junior Michael Frost will take the No. 1 quarterback position, which would allow Trenton Hughes to play outside and exploit his talents. “We’re going to give Michael a chance to see what he can do and hope to use Trenton out wide and as a running back,” coach Caleb Sperry said, adding that a decision on the No. 1 quarterback probably won’t come until Monday of Week 1.
La Salle Prep
As preseason camp approached, junior Nate Dominitz, a transfer from Jesuit of Beaverton, had a slight edge to succeed Ryan Rosumny, last season’s Northwest Oregon Conference East offensive player of the year. Part of Dominitz’s advantage, coach Dustin Janz said, is that he’s older and more experienced than the other candidates. “He’s got great feet, he’s got a strong arm,” Janz said. Freshmen Geddy Spencer and Trey Williams are other quarterbacks on the roster.
As preseason practices began, the two primary challengers for quarterback were senior Harry Vu and sophomore Kenji Johnson. Coach Brian Jackson said Vu can create plays on the move and Johnson is smart and observant and was doing well in early practices. “No matter what their skills are, it’s who can pick up on the offense faster,” Jackson said. “We’re not going to put anybody out there who I don’t think can run the offense effectively.”
Junior Jack Lieuallen is the likely starter at quarterback — at least for the early going. Junior Jackson Davis had anterior collateral ligament surgery in the spring, and the Buckaroos are hopeful he can get cleared to play by midseason. About Lieuallen, coach Erik Davis (father of Jackson Davis) said, “He’s a tremendous competitor, really tough.” Lieuallen has stood out in wrestling and as a pitcher on the baseball team. “I think he’s very capable,” Davis said. “He’ll be able to run the football a little bit better, just because he’s a tough, hard-nosed kid.”
Junior Konnor Bickford is targeted to start at quarterback. A three-sport athlete (also basketball and baseball), Bickford has developed enough at quarterback to allow Putnam to move senior Jackson Brown back to tight end after he started at quarterback in the spring.
The Panthers’ quarterback job is in the veteran hands of senior Hayden Parrish, who began starting at the position in his freshman season. He missed his sophomore season because of injury, and as a junior he passed for 890 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions, earning second-team all-Northwest Oregon Conference East recognition. “The kid’s a solid leader, a great decision-maker, great pocket passer,” coach Brent Wasche said.
Aidan Brenneman is back after starting all six games in the spring as a sophomore. Coach Patrick Pileggi said Brenneman showed steady improvement as the season progressed (all six of Brenneman’s touchdown passes came in the final three games). Pileggi praised Brenneman’s leadership and his dedication, citing the effort he poured into improving his arm strength and working at offseason camps and with a quarterbacks coach. “Kids look up to him and believe in him,” Pileggi said. “He should have a breakout year as a quarterback.”
Quarterback was among the many open questions for the Riverhawks as preseason practices began. Senior Riley Brock and junior Jaxon Pullen — who played wide receiver in the spring — were among the players who were ticketed to take snaps during preseason camp.
NORTHWEST OREGON CONFERENCE WEST
Mikey Gibson is back after he suffered a knee injury in Week 4 of the spring season. Though a senior, Gibson still hasn’t approached his ceiling, having started only about one season’s worth of varsity games. This season, knowing Gibson had a full preseason ramp-up to the season, coach Jimmy Joyce is anticipating noteworthy things. “He’s going to be one of the better playmakers in our area,” Joyce said. “When he settles into a game, I don’t think there are too many quarterbacks better than him in the area.”
As preseason practices approached, two players were competing for the starting quarterback job: senior Austin Case, who shared time at quarterback last season, and sophomore Kaden Hale. First-year coach Dominic Ferraro said after a week-plus of practice that it is most likely that both will play in the first couple of games. “Kaden has all the physical tools,” Ferraro said. “Austin doesn’t necessarily have all of the physical tools that Kaden has, but he has some decision-making that you see come through in the heat of the moment.” Ferraro is instituting a spread offense that represents a substantial change from the Vikings’ previous scheme.
Calvin Perkins took over as starter midway through his freshman season and will be relied on heavily in his sophomore season. “The kid is a stud,” coach Dan Shuff said. “We have a lot of confidence in him. He’s smart, a coachable kid.” Though 5-feet-6, Perkins has what Shuff called a cannon for an arm.
Sophomore Kyrin Fuimaono returns after starting two games in a freshman season limited by injury. He completed 42 of 74 passes (57 percent) with four touchdowns and one interception in the spring. “He’s extremely football smart,” coach Brandis Piper said. “He’s got a very bright football mind. He’s somebody who’s going to pick up on a lot of different little things.” Fuimaono has used the offseason to hone his craft, making all of the team’s workouts and attending camps. “He really puts the ball in a catchable spot,” Piper said.
TC Manumaleuna II returns for his sophomore season after he split time at quarterback as a freshman. Though he compiled modest statistics, he led two double-digit comeback wins for the Vikings. “He works harder to become great at the quarterback position than anyone I have ever coached,” coach Jeff Flood said.
Luke McNabb returns for his senior season, his second season as the full-time starter after he received significant time as a sophomore and even some varsity action as a freshman. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound McNabb was third in Class 5A in the spring with 1,226 passing yards, completing 67 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns against three interceptions. One rival NWOC West coach said, “He’s pretty special.”
Tyler Tolles, then a sophomore, emerged as the Lions’ starting quarterback in the spring season. “Now, as a junior, he’s bigger, stronger,” coach Cory Young said. “He has a great head for a quarterback. He never gets too high or too low.” In Tolles’ second varsity season, Young expects him to be able to process things more quickly as the game slows down for him. His mechanics and accuracy have improved, Young said.
Senior Chase Hix is in his third season as a varsity quarterback. He began the spring season as the starter, but he sustained an injury in Week 2 and didn’t play again. He was a backup and had a bit of playing time as a sophomore. The Wildcats have averaged 260 yards passing per game over the past three seasons, and coach Adam Guenther said expectations are high for Hix to carry on the team’s tradition of being able to throw the ball effectively.
Chase Hix (Wilsonville) photo by Rockne Andrew Roll
Junior Chase Nelson returns as starter after building off the experience of his sophomore season and a summer of honing his craft at camps. “Chase is super coachable,” coach Joel Everett said. “He listens, and he is really cerebral when it comes to the game.” The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Nelson wasn’t able to show what he could do last season, Everett said: “He was playing behind a young line and didn’t get the time a regular quarterback would get.”
The Spartans are set at quarterback with senior Carter Steeves returning. He completed 70 percent of his passes, with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions, in the spring season. His grasp of the offense is another plus. “It’s kind of like having a coach out there,” coach Chris McGowan said. “Watching him, I can just tell that he’s got a lot of upside with his arm strength, accuracy and running ability.”
Rocco McClave returns as the starter after he earned the No. 1 spot midway through the spring season. The 6-foot-2 sophomore is a son of first-year head coach Andrew McClave. “He’s got good feet and can manage the game pretty well,” Andrew McClave said. “We will cut him loose this year and let him go.”
Passing and running, Ashton Foster stood out as a junior, and he’s back for a fall season that holds a lot of promise for the Dragons. Foster completed 70 percent of his passes with nine scoring passes in the spring, and he ran for multiple touchdowns. “He’s just a really good athlete,” coach Andy Jackson said, “and maybe his best attribute is that he’s a very good decision-maker.”
Junior Andreus Smith entered preseason practice as the frontrunner to win Lebanon’s starting quarterback job. A first-year starter at varsity quarterback, Smith is a natural leader who excelled during offseason workouts, first-year coach Troy Walker said. “He is a super smart kid,” Walker said. “He can read the field really well, knows what to do and can make plays with his feet.”
Senior Jordan McCarty is a third-year starter at quarterback who passed for five scores and ran for four in the spring. The work he put in on his throwing mechanics during the offseason has paid off, coach Josh Craig said. “He is understanding the game more, and his accuracy and reads are better,” Craig added. “He is handling the game a lot more smoothly now, rather than just going off his athleticism.”
Junior Kaden Younger and sophomore Gaje Nicholson entered camp in a competition for the No. 1 quarterback spot. Younger, son of co-coach David Younger, is the incumbent. “They have been pushing each other, and both of them have what it takes to lead the team,” co-coach Jeff Louber said. “It’s a good problem to have.”
After passing for nine touchdowns without an interception in the spring, senior Michael Cale returns for his second season as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback. The expectation is that Cale will be better in the fall than he was in the spring. “He has a lot of tools, and we need him to continue to grow and be the type of quarterback we need to run our offense,” coach Brian Mehl said.
Seniors Ronin Kimbrough and Jackson Kemper were competing for the starting spot as practices began. A broken arm prevented Kimbrough from competing for the quarterback job last season, but he’s under consideration this fall. Kemper draws raves for his football IQ. “He was able to pick up the offense quickly and made the right reads,” coach Beau Lehnerz said. “He’s pretty athletic where he can scramble, and he is pretty tough.”
Chace Pence split time at quarterback as a junior and faced competition from sophomore Tyler Mikel as preseason practice began. “Chace throws a really good deep ball and has the ability to make plays with his arm and his legs,” coach AJ Robinson said. “Tyler is a really tough, competitive kid — plays baseball and basketball and has a really good feel for the game.” Robinson said Pence is the starter heading into the jamboree, but Mikel “has a bright future and we feel comfortable with him leading the offense as well.”
The competition to succeed Blake Eaton was between sophomore Shane Wood and junior John Ausdemore, a transfer from Roseburg. Wood ran Crater’s JV offense last season, and both most closely resemble traditional pocket passers. “They are both smart football players who are learning to make the right reads right now,” coach Berk Brown said. “Both have good arms — strong arms.”
Three players were vying for the starting quarterback position: sophomore Bryton Livingston and juniors Dawson Foulon and Caiden Lacey. Livingston was limited in the summer because of a mild injury, leaving Foulon and Lacey to split the reps. “I’m curious to get these guys in pads and see who separates themselves,” coach Erik Johnson said. “They all do a good job of moving the chains.”
Senior Craig Edera and sophomore Cole Hansen were in the running to succeed Coleman Compton as the starting quarterback. “Craig is a great kid and a great athlete,” coach Gary Prince said. “He’s worked hard the last four years. Cole is up and coming and throws the ball really well. He’s learned the offense very efficiently.”
The Millers had four players competing for the starting quarterback job: senior Gavin Colter, juniors Jack Wargo and Caleb Lemley and sophomore Caeleb Kasperek. Colter started last season. Wargo is a transfer from New Jersey. The left-handed Lemley is still growing into his body. Kasperek has prototypical quarterback size. “I’ve been transparent with those guys and told them that we’re hoping there is one guy who wins this thing,” coach Miles Haley said. “But we could do a dual-quarterback thing, depending on how it plays out.”
Darien Witham, then a sophomore, started the final two games of the spring season and entered preseason with a leg up in the quarterback race. But coach Justin Starck wants competition at all positions; senior Alex Boring, he said, was at a disadvantage last season while recovering from an ACL tear. “I’m super happy with the depth that we have at quarterback, to say the least,” Starck said. “I know they’ll both play.” Still, he added, he prefers having a clear No. 1 over a platoon system. “I would rather announce the starter and roll with it,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll play well and get the chance to make some substitutions and get the other one some good, quality minutes.”
Three upperclassmen went into preseason practices vying for the starting quarterback spot: seniors Xander Bongcayao and Hayden Shoop and junior Ryan Prescott. First-year coach Kevin Leonard said Prescott is a savvy quarterback with a good arm, Bongcayao is an athletic player (he will also play outside linebacker) and Shoop is a pocket passer with a lively arm. If Prescott or Shoop wins the starting job, Bongcayao could line up in Wildcat packages to exploit his athleticism.
Michael Cale (West Albany) photo by Leon Neuschwander