Oregon high school football quarterbacks: Which signal-callers are getting the nod in Week 1?

By René Ferrán

As camps opened in mid-August, we gave a team-by-team look at the quarterback situation at every Class 6A, Class 5A and Class 4A school in Oregon.

Many teams knew who their Week 1 starter would be — or at least had a pretty good idea — a month ago. For programs that entered camp with an unsettled quarterback situation, we offer some updates here.

Pat Vialva (Tigard) photo by Leon Neuschwander

CLASS 6A

Grant

In a battle of standout pitchers on the baseball diamond, it was junior Kellen Segal who came out on top to get the starting nod for Grant on Friday night against Silverton in Week 1.

Segal beat out sophomore John Kent in what Generals coach John Beck termed “a close competition. Kellen was just a little more consistent.”

Beck said before camp started that Segal has a good arm, is very competitive and is a good leader who has progressed “really well” in the summer. “Things don’t ruffle him,” Beck said. 

Aloha

Senior Hunter Gerard has completed his recovery from a season-ending injury suffered in Week 2 of the spring season, winning the starting quarterback job in convincing fashion.

“His poise, his command of the offense, and his eagerness to continue to learn,” first-year Warriors coach James Mitcham said were the determining factors in Gerard getting the nod over senior Elijah Manriquez, who stepped in after Gerard’s injury.

Manriquez will play wide receiver and free safety while also being one of the team’s kick returners.

“We’re going to be at our best with both of them on the field together,” Mitcham said. 

Beaverton

While senior Jay Keuter will be the nominal starter for the Beavers in their season opener Friday against West Albany, coach Bob Boyer anticipates Keuter and junior Hunter Borter both will get time under center as he continues to determine who should be the long-term starter.

“One day, one guy will have a good practice, and then the next, the other will step up,” Boyer said. “I thought both did well in the jamboree, so we’ll probably play both and see what happens from there.”

Boyer said each quarterback has his strengths, with Keuter displaying the better arm and Borter a better command of the offense, which has made the decision more difficult.

“It’s a matter of who will step out and take it,” Boyer said. 

Jesuit

Quarterback was the biggest question mark entering preseason practice for the Crusaders. Going into Friday’s Week 1 matchup with West Linn, the battle between senior Porter Harris and sophomore Jacob Hutchinson remains tight.

Hutchinson will get the start against the Lions, but coach Ken Potter said both quarterbacks will play in the game.

Harris was the JV starter in the spring season. Hutchinson is a lacrosse standout who is getting his first extensive action on the gridiron.

Barlow

The Bruins didn’t have a quarterback issue coming into camp, but starter Ethan Jones suffered a season-ending injury that left first-year coach Tracy Jackson scrambling a bit.

Senior Gavin Dow, who started at cornerback during the spring, has taken over at quarterback. He doesn’t have a lot of experience at the position, but Jackson likes his athleticism and the improvement he’s shown in the short time since Jones’ injury.

“We do have work to do here, but we feel good about Gavin’s contribution,” Jackson said. “He is improving, but improvement along with leading a group can be challenging.”

Central Catholic

Sophomore Cru Newman shared the quarterback job with Luke Johnson during the spring season.

This season, with Johnson deciding not to turn out, Newman beat out senior Emerson Dennis and two others for the starting job in what Rams coach Steve Pyne called a very close battle.

“Both Cru and Emerson had very good moments and also struggled at times during the last two weeks,” Pyne said. “Cru graded out a bit higher over the two weeks of practice.”

Pyne said while Newman won the job for Week 1, the competition has not necessarily been settled for good.

“We will continue this battle weekly in practice as it was very close, and we have confidence in both of them,” Pyne said. “They both have done a great job of supporting each other and embracing the healthy competition.”

Cru Newman photo by Taylor Balkom

Clackamas

Junior quarterback Blake Baker moves up from being the JV starter in the spring to the varsity starter this season for the Cavaliers, beating out junior Mateo Maehara for the job.

Maehara, who attended Clackamas as a freshman and returned this summer after a year at Central Catholic, will contribute at wide receiver and safety while also serving as Baker’s primary backup.

“Blake was our JV starter last year, and the extra reps definitely helped,” said second-year coach James Holan. “While Mateo won’t be the starter, he is a very capable backup. We are very excited about our QB room.”

Baker will get an extra week to prepare for the Cavaliers’ season opener after their Week 1 game against Gresham was canceled because of a COVID situation in the Gophers program. The game is officially a forfeit, giving Clackamas a 1-0 record in Mt. Hood Conference play.

David Douglas

Scots coach Cal Szueber tapped Mychael Winchester to start Friday night against Centennial after the senior beat out junior Amare Tanner and sophomore David Franco during camp.

Szueber split the jamboree snaps equally between the three quarterbacks, with each getting 12 plays to make a final impression going into Week 1.

“Mychael was the most impressive the first two weeks and at the jamboree,” Szueber said. 

Reynolds

First-year coach Kelly Murphy had three players in contention for the starting job going into the preseason, but day by day over the past couple of weeks, 6-2, 175-pound senior Cameron Raymond separated himself from the competition to where he will start Week 1 against Sandy.

Murphy said the intangibles that Raymond brings as a senior helped him beat out junior Alex Treat, who’ll serve as the primary backup, and sophomore Jordan Samountry.

“We’re bringing in a brand-new offense this year, and he has a command of the offense,” Murphy said. “It’s not an easy offense to learn, but he understands the offense and did well in the scrimmage.” 

Oregon City

Senior Camdyn Stiegeler will start for the Pioneers on Friday night against Westview, beating out junior Jake Lopez and freshman Ben Schneider for the quarterback job.

This is Stiegeler’s third high school during his career, having played previously at Sheldon and Churchill in Eugene, starting for the Lancers during the spring. Stiegeler, a son of a coach, quickly grasped first-year coach Shane Hedrick’s offense and took command of the battle for the starting position.

“You can see that in high school quarterbacks, when their dad is a coach, they pick things up quicker and have a lot of football intelligence,” Hedrick said. “You can see that savvy in him as he organizes his huddle, barks out signals, and preps himself for the next play.” 

Tigard

After the first week of practice, two contenders for the starting quarterback job had separated themselves from the pack.

During the final two weeks, though, neither junior Cameron Masters-Doble nor Pat Vialva, a transfer from California powerhouse Long Beach Polytechnic, could create sufficient separation to become the clear No. 1.

Coach John Kemper said Tuesday that both likely will play in the season opener Friday night against Sunset.

West Linn  

If Lions coach Chris Miller has decided between his three candidates for the starting quarterback job, he is being very cagey about his selection.

Miller said this week that all three — senior Chase Harmon, junior Earl Ingle and sophomore Nick Sakys — “are on a pretty even playing field” and that all three might get time under center Friday night when West Linn opens against Jesuit in a top-10 matchup.

“It might rotate week to week,” Miller said about who might be the eventual starter. “There’s no inching ahead for any of them.”

North Medford  

The Black Tornado entered preseason practice with a three-way competition for the starting quarterback job.

It became a two-person race when junior Aiden Horsley decided not to turn out and to focus on baseball. Slowly but surely, senior Mason Warren has inched his way ahead of junior Ty Carpenter and likely will get the Week 1 start, although first-year coach Nathan Chin wasn’t 100 percent ready to commit yet.

“Mason’s versatility provides an additional dynamic for our offense,” Chin said. “Ty has had a great camp and shows he can make the throws we need.” 

Roseburg

Roseburg coach Dave Heuberger announced Monday that senior Colton Marsters has won the starting quarterback job, beating out two others who had split the quarterbacking duties during the spring season.

Marsters was an impact player at multiple positions in his first varsity season in the spring, but it wasn’t until he started working at quarterback during summer workouts that Heuberger considered the move.

“This allows us to get the best 11 on the field,” Heuberger said.

Senior Dom Tatone will be the primary backup and will get reps running the flexbone during games. Heuberger added that Tatone will now take on the Swiss army knife role that Marsters held in the spring, “playing all over the place offensively and defensively.” 

Nelson

The new school will be going with the old hand — for now — at quarterback when the Hawks take the field for their program debut Friday night against Barlow.

Coach Aaron Hazel said Tuesday that junior Alex Nita has held off hard-charging freshman Avirey Durdahl to get the start, but that “our plan to bring Avirey along slowly, he’s putting us to the test on that.”

In the end, Nita’s maturity and experience at the high school level made the difference.

“He’s doing some good stuff in practice and is ready for the opportunity,” Hazel said. “He’s improving on the things we’re asking of him, and he’s definitely a leader — not the prototypical leader, but the kids love him.”

Durdahl will play at least two quarters of JV ball the first couple of weeks to get his feet wet, but it might not be long before he gets his first shot under the Friday night lights.

“He’s making some plays in practice, getting better every single day,” Hazel said. “If he gets his chance, he may never let it go. We’re real excited about both him and Alex.”

Junior Jackson Osborne, a transfer from Arizona who also was in the mix for the starting job when camp opened, will be the No. 3 quarterback as he continues to learn the offense.

Avirey Durdahl photo by Taylor Balkom

Glencoe

Another school where the quarterback of the future is pressing the issue is Glencoe, but coach Ian Reynoso is also holding the line for now in keeping incumbent Royce Fasel under center for the near future.

Sophomore Trevor O’Leary has shown the potential to be the No. 1, “but Royce is our general right now, and we’re going to keep rolling with that,” Reynoso said. “Having our leader in that position, someone who’s been solid for us, is great for our offensive line, our receivers. It’s the way to go right now.”

Fasel, an all-conference tailback each of the past two seasons, moved to quarterback midway through the spring season as the Crimson Tide went with a smashmouth attack the final three games, including victories in the final two.

“Just that confidence he brings is good for our whole team right now,” Reynoso said. 

O’Leary, though, won’t serve an apprenticeship on the JV while waiting for his turn. He will play receiver and might get reps under center during the course of a game. 

Sunset

Heading into the jamboree, the competition to succeed Kyle Jaekel (16 touchdowns with no interceptions in the Apollos’ undefeated spring season) remained a three-way competition among seniors Jackson Knight and Grady Newsom and junior Jeff McMillan. 

The jamboree provided a little clarity, as coach Damien Merrick confirmed Wednesday that the battle was now a two-man race between Knight and Newsom. However, he added, “we are still working through our process. We will be making a decision soon, but likely both Jackson and Grady will play” in Friday’s season opener against Tigard.

CLASS 5A

Hood River Valley

Eagles coach Caleb Sperry announced Sunday evening that Trenton Hughes has won the starting job over junior Michael Frost.

While Sperry entered camp hoping to move Hughes to running back or wide receiver, “his experience and athleticism have him ahead at this time,” Sperry concluded.

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 NWOC East offensive player of the year. 

Dominitz maintained that slight edge over freshmen Geddy Spencer and Trey Williams over the ensuing three weeks, and first-year coach Dustin Janz confirmed this week that Dominitz will start Week 1. 

Forest Grove

The competition for the No. 1 job under first-year coach Dominic Ferraro will continue through the Vikings’ opener against The Dalles.

Ferraro was hoping that either senior Austin Case, who shared time at quarterback last season, or sophomore Kaden Hale would separate himself to be a clear No. 1, “but I need to see them on the field before we make a determination,” Ferraro said. 

Ferraro, who took over at Forest Grove after serving as Sunset’s offensive coordinator last season, is instituting a spread offense that represents a substantial change from the Vikings’ previous scheme.

South Albany

Junior Kaden Younger, the son of RedHawks co-coach David Younger, held off a challenge from sophomore Gaje Nicholson to retain the starting job.

“Kaden has impressed us with his growth over the summer in his reads, accuracy, arm strength and leadership,” said co-coach Jeff Louber. 

Churchill

Lancers senior Chace Pence will go from part-time quarterback to full-time starter after holding off sophomore Tyler Mikel during camp.

“Both had good jamborees, and we feel comfortable with both heading into our first game,” Churchill coach AJ Robinson said. “Chace has more experience and has earned the opportunity. Tyler can help the varsity level in a variety of ways.”

Mikel will be the primary backup, and Robinson did not rule out having Mikel play a series or two each game to groom him.

“He has a bright future in our program and will continue to push for playing time,” Robinson said. “He and Chace have a great relationship and care about each other on and off the field. We really like our QB room.”

Chace Pence photo by Leon Neuschwander

Crater

Comets coach Berk Brown decided the future is now by selecting sophomore Shane Wood over junior John Ausdemore in the competition to succeed Blake Eaton at quarterback.

“Shane showed a great deal of determination, grit and leadership for a sophomore,” Brown said. “The future is bright for the young man.”

Wood ran Crater’s JV offense during the spring. Ausdemore transferred to Crater from Roseburg.

Eagle Point

Three players were vying for the starting quarterback position entering camp, but coach Erik Johnson announced this week that junior Caiden Lacey has beaten out classmate Dawson Foulon and sophomore Bryton Livingston.

“Caiden’s overall presence and management of the offense” were what Johnson cited in making his decision. 

Parkrose

With three days to go before the Broncos open the season against Scappoose, second-year coach Brian Jackson was no closer to choosing between incumbent sophomore Kenji Johnson and senior Harry Vu, who did not play during the spring season but has impressed with his playmaking ability.

“As corny as it sounds, it could be a game-time decision,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t want it to go that far, but I want to see who emerges, who’s willing to lead a team on a drive. That’s what I’m looking for in my quarterback.”

Johnson emerged as the starter during the pandemic-shortened spring season and showed a tough streak despite getting “beat up a little bit during the season. He was new to it as a freshman. We trusted him to run the offense, and he did.” 

The Dalles

Quarterback was among the many questions for the Riverhawks as preseason practices began, and coach Lynn Helyer announced Wednesday that he’ll utilize a two-quarterback rotation with senior Riley Brock and junior Jaxon Pullen — who played wide receiver in the spring — during the season.

“We don’t see our quarterback position as a singular person,” Helyer said. “Riley and Jaxon offer slightly different skill sets, and both need to be on the field in order for us to increase our odds of success.”

CLASS 4A

Crook County

First-year coach Pard Smith said Monday that junior Palmer Smith has beaten out sophomore Jacob McKinnon in the competition to succeed Hogan Smith, who was conference co-offensive player of the year in the spring for the Cowboys. 

“His experience and leadership helped him earn the position,” Smith said.

North Marion

First-year Huskies coach Michael Bicknell entered the preseason with junior Kamron Anderson and sophomore Landon Fowler competing for the job, and with three days before their season opener, Bicknell had yet to commit to a starter.

“We are still in the process of evaluating both,” Bicknell said. “Both have looked good and have worked with the first team this week.”

Bicknell previously said that because of Anderson’s athleticism, he allows the team to be multidimensional. Fowler, also a baseball player, has a great arm and what Bicknell called a quarterback “persona.”

Stayton

Juniors Eli Brown and Cody Leming entered preseason practices battling for the starting quarterback spot, and Eagles coach Randy Nyquist said Monday that both will play in Friday’s season opener against Estacada.

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.

Mazama

It’ll be sophomore Tyson Van Gastel who takes over for Skyline Conference offensive player of the year Tristan Lee under center, beating out junior Brendon Monteith for the job.

Both led subvarsity teams during the spring — Monteith the JV team, Van Gastel the freshman team. Van Gastel’s varsity debut will be a doozy, as the spring’s 4A Showcase champions take on SBLive Oregon preseason No. 2 Marshfield on Friday night in Coos Bay.

“Tyson is the guy,” said Vikings coach Vic Lease. “It was Tyson’s speed and ability to read the veer that won him the job.”

Monteith will be a two-way starter at tight end and outside linebacker while also serving as Van Gastel’s primary backup. 

Phoenix

Junior Hunter Everhart won a tight battle with sophomore Ryan Watts for the starting job under first-year coach Michael Robinson II, who called the situation “an awesome predicament” going into camp.

Watts received action in Phoenix’s final three games of the spring as a freshman, throwing for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

The Pirates open their season Friday night at Sutherlin.

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