By René Ferrán, Mike Wilson, Bob Lundeberg, Paul Valencia and Jarrid Denney
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a position-by-position look at some of the top players in Oregon high school football. Our first list focuses on the quarterbacks.
There are hundreds of standout football players in Oregon and these lists are not intended to be comprehensive! Use the comments section to discuss the other signal-callers worthy of fans’ attention in 2021.
Chase Hix (Wilsonville) photo by Leon Neuschwander
Andrew Enders, 6-0, 172, Jr., Nyssa
Enders has been the quarterback-in-waiting for the Bulldogs since junior high, and the wait ended during the spring season when he beat out incumbent Landon McDowall for the starting job. He 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. This season, he has done 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.
Ashton Foster, 6-1, 185, Sr., Dallas
Foster completed 75 percent of his passes as a junior and attended the Northwest 9 Showcase in Washington over the summer. The senior had just two turnovers in six games last season while accounting for 13 touchdowns. “We use him a lot in the quarterback run game and in rollout concepts,” Dragons coach Andy Jackson said. “He’s just a really good athlete, and maybe his best attribute is that he’s a very good decision-maker.”
Bjorn Bergstrom, 6-0, 185, Sr., Sherwood
Bergstrom brings one of the few things the Bowmen lack this season — experience. A three-year starter in their wing-T attack that has seen only minor tweaks with Kevin Hastin taking over from longtime coach Greg Lawrence, Bergstrom received all-Pacific honorable mention in the spring. “Bjorn has quite a lot of tools, and we should be able to do quite a bit with him,” Hastin said.
Blake Baker, 6-0, 170, Jr., Clackamas
Baker moved up from being the JV starter during the spring to the varsity starter this season, and in his debut, he threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-30 victory at 2019 Washington Class 4A state champion Camas.
Brian Mannion, 6-2, 190, Sr., Mountainside
As a sophomore, Mannion joined the varsity in midseason and led the Mavericks to the 6A quarterfinals, and during the spring season, he completed more than 62 percent of his passes (87 of 140) for 1,102 yards and 12 touchdowns (three interceptions). He is the No. 2 quarterback in 247Sports’ statewide recruiting rankings (No. 14 player overall), with Colorado, San Jose State, Idaho, several Ivy League schools and now Oregon showing interest.
Brian Mannion (Mountainside) photo by Taylor Balkom
Brock Thomas, 6-0, 175, Jr., Sheldon
Thomas, a first-team all-Southwest Conference pick as a sophomore, is the complete package at quarterback. In two games this fall, he has completed 66 percent of his passes (33 of 50) for 450 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions, and he’s rushed for 287 yards and six touchdowns. Irish coach Josh Line said Thomas reminds him of former Sheldon star and current assistant coach Jordy Johnson. “He’s got the decision-making ability, he can run, he’s got a good arm and he’s really accurate,” Line said. “We’ve been trying to create opportunities for him to use his skill set.”
Brooks Ferguson, 6-6, 230, Sr., West Salem
The son of Western Oregon University head coach Arne Ferguson transferred to West Salem from Central after his sophomore year. He sat behind Jackson Lowery (now at Linfield) during the spring but is beginning to show his tremendous potential during the Titans’ 2-0 start this season. “He has the most physical tools of any quarterback we have ever had, and we have had some pretty good ones,” 17th-year West Salem coach Shawn Stanley said. “We are really excited for his senior year.”
Carter Greene, 6-0, 175, Sr., Marist Catholic
Greene nearly won the quarterback job as a junior. He ultimately lost out to Joey Laing, but the Spartans still had several packages where they put Greene under center to take advantage of his elite athleticism. This season, he’s Marist Catholic’s full-time quarterback and has added an entirely new dimension to the offense — he threw for five touchdowns in a Week 1 victory over Sweet Home. “Carter’s an athlete — there’s no doubt about it,” Spartans coach Frank Geske said. “I’m excited to see what he can do this year.”
Carter Steeves, 6-1, 170, Sr., Corvallis
Steeves completed more than 70 percent of his passes during the spring and improved his all-around play during the offseason. Spartans coach Chris McGowan praised Steeves for his understanding of the offense. “It’s kind of like having a coach out there,” McGowan said. “Watching him, I can just tell that he’s got a lot of upside with his arm strength, accuracy and running ability.”
Chase Elliott, 5-11, 170, Sr., Hermiston
Elliott was second-team all-Mid-Columbia Conference last season in Washington, his bounce-back year after his sophomore season ended with a broken femur in the first half of the Bulldogs’ season opener. “He’s an athletic, mobile quarterback, and he’s got an arm,” Hermiston coach David Faaeteete said. Elliott completed 62 percent of his passes last season, accounting for four touchdowns with seven interceptions. He was the team’s leading rusher with two 100-yard games and 312 yards total in four games.
Chase Harmon, 6-0, 172, Sr., West Linn
Lions coach Chris Miller talked about how Harmon, who backed up Blake DeBisschop (a preferred walk-on at Cal-Berkeley) in the spring, “looked good in shorts and a T-shirt” during summer drills, but he wanted to see how Harmon would perform under live fire. So far, so good this season — he has thrown for seven touchdowns and more than 550 yards to lead the team to a 2-0 start.
Chase Harmon (West Linn) photo by Leon Neuschwander
Chase Hix, 6-2, 190, Sr., Wilsonville
Hix began the spring season as the starting quarterback, but he sustained an injury in Week 2 and didn’t play the rest of the season. He was a backup and had a bit of playing time as a sophomore, so this is his third varsity season. He’s started strong, throwing for 579 yards and six touchdowns in wins over Lebanon and Pendleton.
Chase Nelson, 6-4, 200, Jr., Central
Nelson received valuable experience as a sophomore starting quarterback. The well-built junior also is an outstanding basketball player for the Panthers. “He’s been progressing really well and went to a lot of camps to try to get his name out there,” Central coach Joel Everett said. “He is getting some college interest, even though he didn’t have the numbers last year. He was playing behind a young line and didn’t get the time a regular quarterback would get.”
Conley Martin, 5-9, 165, Sr., Adrian
Martin was a 1A co-offensive player of the year as a sophomore, throwing for 2,298 yards and 35 touchdowns and running for 1,882 yards and 36 scores in leading the Antelopes to their first state title since 2014. He has come out strong in his senior year, running for four touchdowns in a season-opening victory at Camas Valley.
Cooper Gobel, 6-5, 185, Sr., Banks
Gobel threw for the second-most yards in 4A in the spring season. Plus, there was a game or two when Banks pretty much just ran all game; otherwise, Gobel’s numbers would have been even more impressive. He completed about 70 percent of his passes. “A tall, lanky kid with a real strong arm. He can really sling it,” Banks coach Cole Linehan said. “Throws a beautiful football. Puts it in the right spot, too. The thing he lacked last year was experience. It was really good to see him shine in that shortened season.”
Cru Newman, 5-11, 165, So., Central Catholic
Newman shared quarterback duties with Luke Johnson during the spring season, then won a four-way battle for the starting job this summer. He’s justified Rams coach Steve Pyne’s decision through two games, having a solid game in the opener against Camas and three touchdown passes against David Douglas.
Darien Witham, Jr., Thurston
Witham started the final two games in the spring after transitioning from running back to quarterback, finishing the season 23 of 35 for 204 yards and two touchdowns. His first season as a full-time starter has been delayed by a COVID outbreak that sidelined the Colts for the first two weeks.
Deacon Edgar, 5-11, 175, Jr., South Medford
Edgar started as a sophomore and received all-SWC honorable mention. Panthers coach Bill Singler said Edgar showed tremendous growth over South Medford’s five spring games. “We’re just looking for Deacon to be more consistent,” Singler said. “But he’s a good all-around athlete and he does things well that we like to do. I think you’ll see even more on his plate this year … and we will continue to utilize his legs, because he can really run.”
Dom Montiel, 6-3, 195, Sr., Marshfield
In Montiel, the Pirates return arguably the top quarterback in 4A. Statistically speaking, Montiel was in a class of his own as a junior. He passed for 1,711 yards — nearly 300 more than any other 4A player — and a state-best 22 touchdowns against four interceptions. With plenty of offensive talent surrounding him, he’s already thrown for 739 yards and nine touchdowns through two games this season. “It’s nice to have a very talented quarterback like Dom,” Marshfield coach John Lemmons said. “Ideally, we’ll be a little more balanced this year and able to run the ball more.”
Dondrae Fair Jr., 6-0, 190, Sr., Jefferson
Fair Jr. is a three-year starter at quarterback. The dual-threat senior has been getting the attention of college recruiters, Democrats coach Anthony Stoudamire said. “Dondrae’s full potential hasn’t been tapped yet,” Stoudamire added. “I see Dondrae as a player who can create things for other players, can make things happen whether he’s throwing the ball or running the ball. I want to put this young man in a position where we can use his arm — because he has a great arm — as well as use his feet in creating an advantage for our offense.”
Dondrae Fair Jr. (Jefferson) photo by Taylor Balkom
Hayden Parrish, 5-10, 165, Sr., Redmond
Parrish was a starting quarterback his freshman season, then didn’t play there as a sophomore because of injury. In the spring, he passed for 890 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions (three of them in the Panthers’ only loss, to Hood River Valley) and was voted second-team all-NWOC East. “The kid’s a solid leader, a great decision-maker, great pocket passer,” Redmond coach Brent Wasche said, “and I’m really, really excited to see what he can do as a senior quarterback.”
Hiro Diamond, 6-2, 170, Sr., Liberty
One big reason for the Falcons’ 2-0 start this season? The play of their three-year starter at quarterback. Diamond received second-team all-Pacific recognition as a junior, completing 57.9 percent of his passes (44 of 76) for 526 yards and four touchdowns with five interceptions. He rushed for 284 yards and five scores. “He’s a smart and focused player on the field who can hurt you with the pass and the run,” Liberty coach Eric Mahlum said.
Hordie Bodden Bodden, 5-11, 170, Sr., Warrenton
Bodden Bodden was born in Honduras and moved to La Grande with his mother and stepfather before arriving in Warrenton for high school. In the spring, he moved under center for the first time and led the Warriors to a 5-0 season and the first 3A league championship in the program’s history. He was the league’s offensive player of the year, throwing for 1,332 yards and 14 touchdowns with just one interception and running for 460 yards and five touchdowns. In two games this season, he’s completed 55 percent of his passes for 550 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 188 yards and three scores. “He has endured a ton and overcome the curveballs that life has thrown him,” Warrenton coach Ian O’Brien said. “He is a very special kid all the way around and the heartbeat of our team. He has the ability to change a game and make a big play every time he touches the ball.”
Imarion Kelly, 6-2, 190, Sr., Roosevelt
Kelly began his junior season by throwing six touchdowns passes in the Roughriders’ season opener in the spring. He suffered a shoulder injury in Week 3 against Jefferson, though, and played sparingly at quarterback after that. Kelly has received an offer from Southern Oregon University, and Roosevelt coach Ryan McCants said more colleges are showing increasing interest. “His ceiling is really high, and he’s been doing a great job of continuing to add good muscle while keeping his speed,” McCants said.
Jace Aguilar, 6-1, 175, Jr., Jefferson
The Lions of the 2A Central Valley Conference improved from one win in 2019 to four during the spring season in large part thanks to the emergence of Aguilar under center. The dual-threat quarterback picked up right where he left off in a season-opening 36-20 win over Scio, throwing for two touchdowns and running for two more.
Jace Johnson, 6-2, 175, Jr., South Umpqua
Johnson, a three-sport standout who made the all-Far West League team during the spring season, skillfully runs the Lancers’ spread zone-read offense. Through two games this season, he’s thrown for 436 yard and 10 touchdowns, completing more than 75 percent of his passes (25 of 33).
Jack Layne, 6-2, 190, Sr., Lake Oswego
Lakers offensive coordinator Nick Halberg got to see first-hand Layne’s improvement during the brief spring campaign that ended with Layne receiving all-TRL honorable mention. “Being able to play in just those four games in the spring was massive for his development,” Halberg said of Layne, who received an offer from Division III Bowdoin College in Maine last month. “He’s a fast decision-maker, and we trust him to make certain decisions on every play. He’s also a guy the other players gravitate toward. I’m really excited to see what kind of season Jack can put together this year.”
Jack Layne (Lake Oswego) photo by Taylor Balkom
Jackson Jones, 6-1, 185, Sr., Tualatin
Jones took over in the spring after serving as Blake Jackson’s understudy as a sophomore and has seen his profile blow up over the past several months. The first-team all-TRL quarterback completed more than 59 percent of his passes (93 of 157) for 1,348 yards and 16 touchdowns (four interceptions), then completed a strong body of offseason work with a stellar performance at the Northwest 9 Showcase in Yakima. “He did a great job in the six-game season,” Timberwolves coach Dan Lever said. “He has a cannon for an arm.”
Jacob Hage, 5-8, 170, Sr., Cascade
Despite his size, Hage is pure toughness. If there is a defender between him and the goal line, Hage doesn’t want to run around the defender. Sure, Hage is lightning quick and could run around the defender. But no, he wants to run right through the defender. Plus, he’s brilliant at the position. “We were running a little new wrinkle, and he told every kid in the huddle what they were doing. He knows exactly how I’m thinking,” Cougars coach Brandon Bennett said. “He is the leader of our offense.”
Jakoby Moss, 6-1, 175, Sr., Mountain View
Moss, an all-city quarterback last season, is in his third season as a starter. Cougars coach Brian Crum said Moss might be the best quarterback he’s had in 25 years of coaching. “He doesn’t have the amazing measurables or a super powerful arm, but there are so many things about the intangibles of playing quarterback, and he checks every single one of those boxes,” Crum said.
Jared Mehlschau, 6-0, 185, Jr., Santiam Christian
Mehlschau took over under center this season after all-state quarterback Eli Kennel decided to focus on baseball. He threw for 238 yards and three touchdowns in the Eagles’ season-opening victory over Amity.
JC Klee, 5-10, 185 Sr., Southridge
Klee had a solid first season as a starter for the Skyhawks, completing 52 of 110 passes for 525 yards and five touchdowns. Reducing his interception rate (10 in 110 attempts) will be key to the Skyhawks significantly improving this fall. “He understands the offense well and is very effective in delivering the ball where it needs to go,” Southridge coach Kevin Bickler said. “He’s a great kid and teammate and is very coachable.”
Jordan McCarty, 6-1, 180, Sr., Silverton
McCarty, rated a three-star recruit by 247Sports and a star basketball player for the Foxes, worked on his throwing mechanics during the offseason, Silverton coach Josh Craig said. The improvement has been noticeable. “He is understanding the game more, and his accuracy and reads are better,” Craig said. “He is handling the game a lot more smoothly now, rather than just going off his athleticism.”
Jordan McCarty (Silverton) photo by Leon Neuschwander
Levi Durrell, 6-2, 185, Sr., Newberg
With defenses loading up to stop Newberg’s power running game last season, Durrell took advantage to complete 44 of 94 passes for 754 yards and 11 touchdowns with five interceptions, earning first-team all-Pacific honors. New coach Jeremy Johnson runs a more wide-open offense, which should highlight Durrell’s arm and athleticism. “He’s a natural-born leader who wants to do things the right way,” Johnson said. “He’s tough, extremely competitive, throws the ball extremely well and is full of confidence.”
Logan Smith, 6-4, 180, Sr., Sprague
Smith had a strong spring in his first season as a starter, and Olympians coach Jay Minyard predicted he would be even better as a senior. Sure enough, he fired five touchdown passes in Sprague’s season-opening 41-20 win against Corvallis. “Logan is very athletic and has a strong arm,” Minyard said. “He will play on Saturdays at some level.”
Luke McNabb, 6-3, 190, Sr., Scappoose
McNabb, son of Scappoose coach Sean McNabb, enters his second season as the full-time starter after getting considerable time as a sophomore and even some varsity action as a freshman. He was third in 5A in the spring with 1,226 passing yards, completing 67 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns against three interceptions. “He’s worked really hard (during the pandemic); he’s an athletic kid,” Sean McNabb said. And, having been around older brothers who have been through the program and around his dad as he watched game footage, the senior has a good grasp of the team’s offense.
Michael Cale, 6-1, 175, Sr., West Albany
Cale shined as a first-year starting quarterback during the spring season. Bulldogs coach Brian Mehl said he expects Cale to elevate his game as a senior. “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,” Mehl said.
Mikey Gibson, 6-2, 200, Sr., Canby
Gibson suffered a knee injury in Week 4 of the spring season and played sparingly in Week 5 before being shut down. Though a senior, Gibson still hasn’t approached his ceiling, having started only about one season’s worth of varsity games. “He’s still learning the game as a quarterback,” Cougars coach Jimmy Joyce said, “but he’s got everything else around him. He’s got the sense of what he needs to do; it’s all putting it in the right sequence.”
Mikey Gibson (Canby) photo by Leon Neuschwander
Nate Vidlak, 6-1, 190, Sr., Hidden Valley
This is the season Vidlak was expected to take over the reins of the offense from big brother Sam, but like for many families, the pandemic changed plans in a hurry. Sam signed with Oregon State and enrolled early to get a head start on his college career, skipping his senior season and allowing Nate to move from receiver to quarterback a season earlier than planned. He made the all-conference second team after a solid first season, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes (68 of 98) for 897 yards and 11 touchdowns with two interceptions. He ran for 105 yards and five touchdowns. “Great fundamentals, good arm strength, good athlete,” Mustangs coach Mike Fanger said of Vidlak, also the conference’s player of the year during the baseball season.
Reece Dixon, 5-8, 160, Sr., Powder Valley
Dixon is another three-sport standout who won four medals at the 1A state track championships in April and led the Badgers to the state quarterfinals in football in 2019. The dual-threat quarterback had two touchdown runs in a 42-14 victory over Dufur in Week 1 this season. Rangers coach Jack Henderson said afterward: “Powder has the best quarterback in the state in Dixon.”
Ryan Oliver, 6-3, 190, Jr., Lakeridge
Pacers coach Spencer Phillips had a revelation the week before the spring season opener to go with Oliver as his starting quarterback, and his intuition paid off as Oliver hardly looked like a sophomore in his first season — he completed nearly 65 percent of his passes (94 of 145) for 1,197 yards and 12 touchdowns (two interceptions) in making the all-TRL second team. He’s picked up where he left off during Lakeridge’s 2-0 start this season, completing more than 74 percent of his passes (29 of 39) for 328 yards and four touchdowns.
Sam Leavitt, 6-2, 185, Jr., Westview
Leavitt was one of three Wildcats who transferred to Pleasant Grove, Utah, during the fall of 2020 before returning to Westview in the spring (he did not play in the OSAA’s spring season). He recently received an offer from Florida State after a solid sophomore season in which he earned the starting job with the Vikings and threw for 1,672 yards and 17 touchdowns (eight interceptions), completing 52.6 percent of his passes. In two victories this season, he has seven touchdown passes. “He has a great arm and high IQ, with the ability to read defenses,” Wildcats coach Ryan Atkinson said.
Shaw Stork, 6-2, 180, Jr., Henley
With two-year starting quarterback Tim Orr having graduated, Shaw has moved under center (where he played for the JV team as a freshman) after playing at receiver in the spring. “He’s more of a dual threat than Tim was,” said Hornets coach Alex Stork, Shaw’s older brother. “We saw him really come on as a leader of the secondary, as well, as the season went on. He made some nice plays in the back end and gained confidence. I’m excited to see what he can do this season.”
Tanner Steele, 6-3, 180, Jr., Vale
Steele moved up from the JV squad, for which he started as a sophomore, to become the varsity starting quarterback in the spring. That experience should serve him well this season. He also is a starter in the secondary. “Tanner is a very smart and competitive player,” Vikings coach Jeff Aldred said. “He has a great grasp of our offense and is a natural leader.”
TC Manumaleuna II, 5-11, 180, So., North Salem
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,” North Salem coach Jeff Flood said.
TC Manumaleuna II (North Salem) photo by Leon Neuschwander
Teague Clemmer, 6-2, 175, Sr., Sandy
In an already shortened junior season (because of the COVID-19 pandemic), Clemmer’s availability was truncated further by an injury. But what he showed in the two games he did get to play in the spring was tantalizing. He completed 26 of 47 passes (55 percent) with four touchdowns and no interceptions. “In that small amount of time, he really stepped up and was pretty special,” Pioneers coach Josh Dill said. “He throws the ball with great accuracy. He can drive the ball down the field.”
Trent Buchler, Sr., Tillamook
One of the top rushing quarterbacks in the state in the spring, Buchler is “blazing fast,” Cheesemakers coach Kye Johnson said, and exceedingly difficult for defenses to stop. He ran for 352 yards and five touchdowns and threw for 474 yards as a junior. If the coaching staff gets what it wants, Buchler will be even more difficult for opponents this season. “What we’re hoping for Trent this year is to take that next step in our passing game,” Johnson explained. “We want to watch him become more of a multi-threat guy. He has a talented arm, but we did not throw it as well as we wanted to last year.”
Zander Garner, 5-11, Sr., Franklin
Garner enters his second season as the Lightning’s varsity starter with what coach Jesse Thompson called a far greater understanding of the offense and the ability to make presnap and postsnap reads. “It’s like night and day from when I first got here,” the second-year coach said. Garner completed 58 percent of his passes as a junior, piling up 1,148 yards with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions. “He’s throwing with more anticipation,” Thompson said. “His timing is getting better.”