By Mike Wilson, René Ferrán, Paul Valencia 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 Class 4A 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!
Jacob Hage (Cascade) photo by Leon Neuschwander
Rocky Rub, a senior and son of coach Howard Rub, will be at the controls of the Fishermen’s offense. Rub gives the team a solid running threat at quarterback, and Howard Rub said Rocky Rub’s throwing mechanics and decision-making have improved over the short offseason.
Cooper Gobel returns for his senior season after earning all-league recognition in the spring. He was among Class 4A leaders in passing yards, and his total was undoubtedly deflated by some of Banks’ one-sided victories. “He can really sling it,” coach Cole Linehan said. “The thing he lacked last year was experience. It was really good to see him shine in that shortened season.”
Under first-year coach Tim Price, the Mustangs plan to open up the offense. That should allow junior Kaden Harris to show what he can do. Price said Harris has a cannon for an arm. “He has the passing ability, with some good wide receivers, to have impressive numbers,” Price said.
Senior Carson Kawasoe will be at the wheel of the Seagulls’ offense. Owing to injuries and quarantine, Kawasoe was limited to two games and a quarter of a third in the spring. Still, he had an impact. “He’s an exceptional leader,” coach Aaron Tanabe said. “When we had him in the huddle versus not in the huddle, the tone was different. He does a really good job of holding guys accountable.” Seaside might run some packages for junior Tanner Kraushaar at quarterback, too.
Senior Trent Buchler is among the top rushing quarterbacks in Oregon. The Cheesemakers also have confidence in his ability to throw. “We want to watch him become more of a multi-threat guy,” coach Kye Johnson said. “He has a talented arm, but we did not throw it as well as we wanted to last year.”
Ryoma Lane, a senior playing his second season of organized football, will be the starting quarterback for the Valiants of Beaverton. The hope is that Lane’s talent and attitude will more than make up for his inexperience. “He’s really starting to learn to play. He has picked up the offense really fast,” first-year coach Michael Snyder said. “His arm strength … he’s going to be able to stretch the field for us this year.”
Junior Palmer Smith and sophomore Jacob McKinnon entered preseason in a competition to succeed Hogan Smith, who was conference co-offensive player of the year in the spring for the Cowboys of Prineville. First-year coach Pard Smith said before preseason practices that he was looking to see which of the two would separate himself and be the most consistent before deciding on the starter.
Cory James got several reps as a sophomore in the spring in relief of Isaiah Schaffer, who was the Rangers’ leading rusher (James was second on the team in that category). “He has embraced the triple-option offense and runs it very well,” coach Andy Mott said, referring to James. “He also has a good arm. We’ll be able to sling the ball around a bit.”
The Gladiators brought along Brayde Owen carefully during his sophomore season. He passed for four touchdowns in one game, and the hope is that game was just the start of things to come. “His ability to throw the football and understand what we’re trying to do with all 11 guys in the formation, it’s beautiful to see,” first-year coach Cam Sommer said. “He’s done a great job.”
Dru Boyle won the starting quarterback job in the spring as a sophomore in part because of his intangibles. “Dru has the leadership qualities,” coach Kurt Taylor said. “The kids follow him. He’s the hardest-working kid on the team. He didn’t miss a workout. He’s gotten so much bigger, so much stronger, so much faster. I’m really excited to see what he does this year — and next year, as well.”
The emergence of junior Tucker Ward at quarterback is allowing Molalla to move Isaac Thomas-Klementis, the starter in the spring, to a running back spot, where he should be able to better exploit his talents. Ward was budgeted to get some reps during the spring, but he was injured early in the season. Coach Sean McElhaney said Ward has a solid arm, throws with accuracy and makes good decisions. Ward will be operating a new offense, parts of which were unveiled in the spring.
The Huskies of North Marion entered the preseason with junior Kamron Anderson and sophomore Landon Fowler competing for the starting quarterback spot. Anderson is athletic and allows the team to be multidimensional. Fowler, also a baseball player, has a great arm and, first-year coach Michael Bicknell said, has the quarterback “persona.”
Cooper Gobel (Banks) photo by Leon Neuschwander
OREGON WEST CONFERENCE
Jacob Hage, who amassed more than 1,300 yards of total offense as a junior in the spring, returns to lead the offense for the Cougars of Turner. Cascade scored 240 points in the six-game spring season, third-most among Class 4A teams.
Junior Markus Everitt, who draws high marks for his football smarts and his leadership, is projected to start for the Cubs. “The guys really respect and listen to him,” coach Dan Schaffeld said. “He’s a great athlete, but also one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around.”
Juniors Eli Brown and Cody Leming entered preseason practices vying for the starting quarterback spot. Brown is a third-year varsity player who can run the ball and brings physical toughness to the job. Leming, who made one start in the spring season, is more of a traditional pocket passer and has elusiveness.
After a sophomore season on the junior varsity marked by his ability to diagnose defenses, Heath Nichol is ticketed for the starting varsity job. Nichol is described as a phenomenal athlete whose passion for the sport and his teammates sets an example for others.
Kaleb Robles, a 6-foot-2 junior, brings size and speed to the starting quarterback position, where he will need to adjust to the varsity environment. “Those receivers aren’t as open as they would be at the JV level,” coach Ken Mace said.
SKY EM LEAGUE
Brayden Crump, then a sophomore, ran the offense during the Lions’ abbreviated spring season and gained valuable experience. Coach Joe Polamalu is excited about the prospect of having Crump for two more seasons, and the coach believes Crump can bring plenty of excitement to the spread offense. “He just needed some time,” Polamalu said. “Those three games that we had gave him that time. He’s very athletic and is going to do a lot of good things running and throwing for us.”
Senior Ian Drago succeeds 6-foot-5 Cobyn Herbert after serving as backup in the spring. The Falcons’ offense will be substantially younger than it was last season. “He’s definitely going to be somebody we need to step up and take the reins for us,” coach Justin Peeler said.
After nearly winning the starting quarterback job in the spring, senior Carter Greene will be the Spartans’ full-time quarterback and could add an entirely new dimension to the Eugene team’s offense. Greene was used under center in the spring in various packages as a complement to Joey Laing, who threw for more than 1,110 yards on 57 percent passing. “Carter’s an athlete — there’s no doubt about it,” coach Frank Geske said.
Dom Montiel returns for his senior season for the Pirates of Coos Bay after leading Class 4A in touchdown passes (22) and passing yards (1,711) in the spring. “It’s nice to have a very talented quarterback like Dom,” coach John Lemmons said. “Ideally, we’ll be a little more balanced this year and able to run the ball more.”
Senior Cade Johannsen and junior Devon Anderson entered preseason practices in a competition for the starting quarterback job. The 6-foot-8 Johannsen was the backup in the spring after making a hard push for the starting job. “He’s got a really good arm, and he’s got the vision,” coach Rick Raish said. “He’s athletic, and he’s getting some serious looks from schools on special teams (as a kicker/punter).” Anderson is an athletic, versatile player who will add a dimension to the team’s running game if he gets the job. As a sophomore, he occasionally operated out of the Wildcat formation. As practices were starting, Raish hadn’t ruled out going with a dual-quarterback system in which he could take advantage of each player’s skills. “We would like to have one guy at quarterback,” Raish said. “But Devon can run really well, and Cade can throw really well.”
Dom Montiel (Marshfield) photo by Taylor Balkom
Junior Shaw Stork, brother of coach Alex Stork, will succeed two-year starter Tim Orr after playing at receiver in the spring. Stork was a quarterback on the junior varsity as a freshman. “He’s more of a dual threat than Tim was,” Alex Stork said. Trent Trout, a 6-foot-2 senior who is coming back from injury, is also a candidate. Whoever wins the No. 1 spot, expect the Hornets of Klamath Falls to mount more of a run-oriented attack than when Orr was under center.
Nate Vidlak returns for the Mustangs of Grants Pass after a successful junior season as the starter. Vidlak was voted all-conference second team after he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes (68 of 98) for 897 yards and 11 touchdowns with two interceptions. He ran for five touchdowns. “Great fundamentals, good arm strength, good athlete,” first-year coach Mike Fanger said. “He’s a team leader, one of the best I’ve seen at the high school level, and he throws the ball really well on the run.”
As a junior last season, Silas Dutra won a battle for the starting quarterback job and received all-conference honorable mention. He was projected to keep the job this season, as his main competition was an untested sophomore.
Junior Brendon Monteith and sophomore Tyson Van Gastel entered preseason practices competing to succeed Tristan Lee, who was voted conference player of the year after the Vikings of Klamath Falls went undefeated in the spring. Monteith ran the junior varsity offense in the spring, Van Gastel the freshman offense. Coach Vic Lease said the competition likely will run through the jamboree before he decides who will start Week 1 at Marshfield in Coos Bay.
Senior Jaydon Twedell is a returning starter for the Knights of Grants Pass who can move the ball with his legs (two rushing touchdowns in a four-game spring season) as well as his arm.
The Pirates have what first-year coach Michael Robinson II called “an awesome predicament” at quarterback. The position is up for grabs between junior Hunter Everhart (6-feet and 165 pounds) and sophomore Ryan Watts (5-8, 150). “Both of them have similar skill sets and leadership qualities,” said Robinson II, who doesn’t plan to name a starter until after the team’s jamboree.
GREATER OREGON LEAGUE (4A/3A)
Paul Hobson got indoctrinated to varsity competition as a freshman in the spring, and after sharing time under center, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound sophomore is the undisputed No. 1 this fall. “We’re looking for growth and maturity from Paul this year as we work through our youthfulness,” coach Jason Ramos said. “He’s athletic and has a good arm and good football IQ.”
Senior Dahlton Proffitt and junior Levi Epling were projected to lead the competition to be the starting quarterback when the season starts. Proffitt is a transfer from Iowa with notable athleticism, and Epling got some playing time as a freshman as Burns played a junior varsity schedule in the spring. Coach Terry Graham said he hopes senior Jaden Tiller, who received honorable mention on the Class 3A all-state team in 2019, will be recovered from a torn ACL (suffered playing basketball in February) by midseason. “He wants to be out there, and he’s progressing faster than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Graham said.
Junior Logan Williams (5-feet-8 and 165 pounds) served a two-year apprenticeship on the junior varsity and made himself the clear favorite to win the starting quarterback job. “He has great vision, is very smart and makes good decisions,” coach Rich McIlmoil said.
Nick Herndon showed development as time went on in the spring season — his first playing quarterback — and the hope for the Pioneers of Milton-Freewater is that his progression continues on an upward slope. Coach Jorge Estrada said as the season progressed, Herndon could execute more of the run-pass option action that the coach prefers. “That was huge, because he’s got a good arm and good vision,” Estrada said. “He was getting beat up, but he was becoming more confident as the year went, being able to read the linebacker and either keep the ball or give it up. That’s something we can build off for this year.”
Andrew Enders has been the quarterback-in-waiting for the Bulldogs since junior high, and the wait ended during the spring season when he beat incumbent Landon McDowall for the starting job. Enders threw three touchdown passes in his debut, a victory over Ontario, and finished the season by going 13 of 20 for 230 yards and two touchdowns against rival Vale. He ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns. During the first few days of practice, he did a good job picking up first-year coach Lance Lovitt’s concepts. “A slant pattern is always a slant pattern, but the biggest piece right now is getting through the language barrier,” Lovitt said, referring to changes in terminology.
Ruben Hernandez started at quarterback as a junior and this season faces competition from speedy sophomore Matteo Walker, who was on the junior varsity in the spring.
Tanner Steele moved up after being the junior varsity starting quarterback as a sophomore to become the varsity starter in the spring. Having experienced the varsity environment should serve him well his senior season. “Tanner is a very smart and competitive player,” coach Jeff Aldred said. “He has a great grasp of our offense and is a natural leader.”