North Salem football set to take another leap in Year 2 of TC Manumaleuna II era

By Mike Wilson

SBLive Oregon will break down every 6A, 5A and 4A team in the state leading up to the 2021 fall football season. Here’s our look at the North Salem Vikings of the Class 5A Northwest Oregon Conference West Division.

TC Manumaleuna photo by Leon Neuschwander

NORTH SALEM TEAM PAGE

HEAD COACH 

Jeff Flood, 14th season (27-94)

PAST 3 SEASONS

2021 (spring): 3-3 overall, 0-0 in NWOC West

2019: 2-7 overall, 2-7 in Mid-Willamette Conference  

2018: 2-7 overall, 2-7 in Mid-Willamette Conference   

KEY PLAYERS DEPARTED 

OL/DL Kobe Hubbard

OL/DL Octavio Maldonado

TE/DE Isaiah Rico

RB/LB Anthony Valdez

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Junior RB/CB Josiah Davis

Davis was by far the Vikings’ leader rusher last season, piling up 766 yards (8.0 yards per carry) and a team-high eight touchdowns on the ground. He was a two-way player as a sophomore, and he returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the Mayor’s Cup showdown against South Salem. “He has all the tools to be great,” Flood said. 

Junior WR/DB Erick Gonzalez

Gonzalez played on both sides of the ball as a sophomore and will be a third-year starter in the defensive secondary. He led the team in receiving yards last season. “He has exceptional receiving skills,” Flood said.

Senior OL/DL Isaiah Razo

Razo is a third-year starter on the offensive and defensive lines. Flood called the 6-foot, 240-pound Razo, who also plays on the North Salem basketball team, physical and athletic.

Junior OL/LB Imyas Aguilar

Aguilar brings toughness from the wrestling mat to the football field. He started both ways as a sophomore, when the Vikings had their most wins since they were 3-6 in 2017.

Sophomore FB/LB Jerrik Wangler

Wangler started at linebacker last season as a 5-foot-11, 185-pound freshman. “He’s an exceptional tackler and has a nose for the ball,” Flood said.

Junior WR/DB Neil Kniefel

Kniefel was a part-time starter on both sides of the ball last season. “He’s a tough, physical kid and a skilled athlete,” Flood said.

Sophomore QB TC Manumaleuna II

Manumaleuna entered high school as a heralded prospect, as he had received a scholarship offer from Oregon before matriculating at North Salem. He split time at quarterback last season and compiled modest statistics, but 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,” Flood said.

OUTLOOK

A 3-3 season in the spring represented the most wins North Salem has collected since 2017, when the Vikings were 3-6 in the Class 6A Greater Valley Conference.

Because of travel restrictions that partly shaped each team’s schedule, North Salem played four Salem-area Class 6A schools in the spring; the Vikings were 2-0 against 5A teams. North Salem defeated South Salem for the Mayor’s Cup in a game highlighted by Josiah Davis’ five touchdowns.

The spring roster had seven seniors, so losses owing to graduation would appear to be relatively light.

Signs appear to be pointing in a positive direction for the Vikings. Davis is a top-level weapon who at 5-11 and 205 pounds isn’t an inviting target for would-be tacklers. Manumaleuna should be better with another half-year of growth and maturity.

But the Vikings’ 3-3 record can be looked at another way. The combined record of the teams they beat was 3-14. They scored no more than seven points in any of their three losses.

The offensive and defensive fronts — like with so many teams — look like fulcrum points for North Salem.

“We will only be as good as our offensive line and defensive line,” Flood said, “so we will look for improvement in that area.”

Matched against a Class 5A schedule this fall, if players can stay healthy, exceeding last season’s win total would seem to be within reach.

COACH SAID 

“We will have some talented kids but will struggle with depth if we have a significant amount of injuries.” — Jeff Flood

MORE TEAM PREVIEWS

2021 SPRING FOOTBALL

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