By René Ferrán
The Oregon high school football season kicks off this week. Here are one writer’s preseason Class 6A power rankings. Click on the link to read the team’s complete season preview.
Tualatin photo by Taylor Balkom
If Tyler Mahlman makes a smooth transition back to quarterback and the defense doesn’t suffer setbacks from its graduation losses, a second consecutive winning season and playoff berth will be in the cards.
The hope in the foothills of Mount Hood is that having endured a crazy spring season, the Pioneers will be hardened as they mount a playoff push this fall. If the line proves “nasty,” Sandy could be a surprise team in 6A football.
Based on the Democrats’ high-end talent — such as Oregon commit Trejon Williams — and on the competition in the Portland Interscholastic League, expect Jefferson to compete for a league title and state playoff spot.
Aloha has all the tools necessary to seize the Metro League’s third automatic playoff berth and a mid-level seed in the bracket. The defense will need to replace several key pieces, but the spine is solid.
21. Grants Pass
Grants Pass has to replace several key players, including Southwest defensive player of the year Dante Haven, but enough talent remains for the Cavemen to stay competitive in the five-team conference.
20. South Medford
If the Panthers can find some capable linemen and generate a bit more depth, the team should be right back in the postseason mix by season’s end. If not, it could be more of a rebuilding year for South Medford.
19. Mountain View
With a strong senior class a season ago, coach Brian Crum felt the Cougars could have competed for the league title during a normal year. The team might take a small step back this fall, but a playoff berth still should be in the cards.
The Crimson Tide ended a six-year playoff drought in 2019, and with senior Royce Fasel leading the way, they likely will make it back-to-back postseason appearances.
On paper, the Wildcats have the potential to contend for their first Metro League title since 2007 and get past the first round of the 6A playoffs for the first time since 2016, their last winning season.
The Irish absolutely have the potential to be a quality team and do damage in the playoffs, but the program doesn’t have the same overall level of strength and athleticism as recent seasons.
15. West Salem
The Titans haven’t dropped more than one conference game in a season since 2015, and there’s no reason to believe the streak will end this fall.
The Bowmen haven’t finished below second place in league play since 2003, and that streak shouldn’t end this season. The personnel will include plenty of changes, though, with at least nine new starters on defense likely to take the field in Week 1 against Lakeridge.
The Pacers have made the quarterfinals twice in the past two decades and haven’t reached double digits in wins since their last semifinal appearance in 1994. This year’s team, though, has the talent to end that streak.
The Generals tied for the PIL title in 2018, won it outright in 2019 and won both of their games against PIL teams in the spring by a combined score of 101-32. The next step? Winning their first state playoff game since 2017.
The Mavericks’ schedule does them no favors, but if quarterback Brian Mannion and wide receiver Keenan Speer-Johnson have big senior seasons and the newcomers don’t falter, Mountainside could go on a playoff run.
Tigard could see its streak of 10-win seasons (in full campaigns) end at four this fall, but like last spring, the Tigers could be sneaky good the second half of the season and a dangerous foe come playoff time.
With several key players back and depth at all levels, the Black Tornado have the look of a state title contender. First-year coach Nathan Chin doesn’t want to put the cart before the horse, but he isn’t afraid to set lofty goals for his team.
The defense must replace four starters, none bigger than Pacific defensive player of the year Conner Croskrey, but if the Tigers can successfully fill those holes and quickly take flight in their new offense, they might win their first full-season conference title in the past 61 years.
Even a modest improvement from the spring’s 13.6 points per game average, combined with another solid season on defense, should have the Crusaders in the mix for yet another Metro League title and deep playoff run — they’ve reached the quarterfinals in each of the past 12 postseasons.
6. Lake Oswego
A third consecutive trip to the 6A state final might be too much to expect, but another season with double-digit wins isn’t outside the realm of possibility. The development of an inexperienced offensive line that will break in three starters will go a long way toward determining whether the Lakers can challenge Tualatin and West Linn for a Three Rivers title.
None of the current players were alive the last time Sunset got past the second round (1998), but after a 6-0 run through the spring season, winning an outright Metro League title — something the Apollos haven’t done in a full season since 1993 — and making a deep postseason run are well within their grasp.
4. West Linn
It’s a lot of new names and fresh faces for the Lions, but the expected finish is the same as usual — in the thick of the Three Rivers League title chase and a spot in the state quarterfinals for the seventh consecutive postseason, if not taking home a blue trophy denied them by the pandemic in the spring.
Four returning starters on the offensive line, the Mt. Hood Conference’s top returning rusher, a secondary that defies opponents to pass and a linebacker committed to a Pacific-12 Conference school … a lot of pieces are in place for the Cavaliers this fall.
It’s not too risky to predict that the Rams will contend for the Mt. Hood Conference championship and play deep into the state playoffs. Central Catholic had seven seniors who received significant action in the spring, so plenty of experienced players return.
Whether the Timberwolves can repeat the 2010 team’s run to the 6A state final — and perhaps take it one step further and win the program’s first state championship — will come down to how well they come together and battle through adversity, because they certainly have the talent to take home the blue trophy in December.
Other projected playoff teams
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