chris miller

What Ever Happened to Those Offensive Coordinators Before Mike Bellotti?

Over the past several decades, Oregon has had a number of offensive coordinators with rates of success all over the board. Most of us are familiar with College Football Hall of Fame recent inductee Mike Bellotti, Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich, who eventually became Oregon head coaches, and Jeff Tedford and Dirk Koetter, who left the Ducks to take over the reins at Cal and ASU, respectively.

But whatever happened to the others who left Oregon — sometimes voluntarily and sometimes involuntarily? Oregon did not officially designate one of its assistant coaches as offensive coordinator until 1973, the last year of Dick Enright’s tenure as head coach, when Jesse Branch became the Ducks’ first. An interesting character, he had been a halfback/defensive back for Arkansas in the early 1960s, being named to the All-Southwest Conference team, in 1962.

After Arkansas, he played three seasons for the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos. Following his playing career, he landed his first coaching job at Mississippi State, coaching running backs. After a single season there, he coached the Kansas State secondary for four seasons. The last season he also served as defensive coordinator.

Branch arrived in Eugene, in 1972, as secondary coach and defensive coordinator. After one season he moved to offensive coordinator for one season before returning to Kansas State. He then moved to Arkansas in 1975, where he served as an assistant coach and administrator. He later served as head coach at Missouri State University and Henderson State. Branch is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the Missouri State University Hall of Fame.

Jesse Branch - Offensive Coordinator 1973 Courtesey University of Oregon Libraries -Special Collections & University Archives

Jesse Branch (far left) – Offensive Coordinator 1973

Next up was Joe Wade, who played for the Oregon State College Beavers in the late 1950s as a center/linebacker. After college, he had a long career coaching at the high school and junior college levels in Compton, California. Enright initially hired Wade in 1972 to coach the offensive guards and centers.

With the elevation of Don Read to head coach in 1974, Wade was named Oregon’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He lasted one season and does not appear to have coached at any other major college after 1974. His son, Joe Wade, Jr., is the current running backs coach for Fresno State.

Wade was followed by Gene Dahlquist, who had been a quarterback and punter for Arizona in the early 1960s. After his collegiate career, Dahlquist played quarterback and punter for the Norfolk Neptunes of the Continental Football League. He started his college coaching career in 1968, as the offensive coordinator for Idaho State. After three years there, Dahlquist moved to Utah where he coached the receivers for three years.

Read hired Dahlquist in 1974 to coach Oregon’s wide receivers. With the departure of Wade, Dahlquist was elevated to offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach/wide receivers coach, where he served two seasons in that capacity. With the firing of Read following the 1976 season, Rich Brooks was hired as head coach.

Brooks brought in his own coaching staff, which meant Dahlquist was out of job. Dahlquist, however, landed on his feet, becoming the offensive coordinator for Boise State. During his tenure with the Broncos, they won an FCS championship. From Boise State, he moved on to offensive coordinator jobs at Iowa State, Illinois, Texas, and UNLV. Switching to the pros in 2001, Dahlquist took over the head coaching job with the Scottish Claymores of the NFL Europe League, a job he held for three seasons.

Following his stint in Scotland, he became a consultant, but, unable to resist the lure of coaching, he returned to the sidelines as the quarterback coach for the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL, in 2012. Earlier this year, Dahlquist was named quarterback coach for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Bill Musgrave - 1987 University of Oregon Libraries- Special Collections & University Archives

Bill Musgrave – 1987

Brooks selected John Becker to be his first offensive coordinator. In 1977 and 1978, Becker also coached the quarterbacks and wide receivers. In 1979, he coached the running backs, while serving as offensive coordinator. Becker had started his college coaching career at UCLA in 1970, followed by stints at New Mexico and New Mexico State.

In 1974, he was hired as the head coach for Los Angeles Valley College. His success at Los Angeles Valley, along with the fact that he and Brooks had both been on the UCLA staff in 1970, is probably what led to Becker joining the Oregon staff.

The lure of professional football led Becker to leave Oregon following the 1979 season. His first pro coaching job was with the Philadelphia Eagles as the quarterbacks and wide receivers coach. He moved on to other franchises, including Buffalo, Indianapolis and Seattle, serving as offensive coordinator at the last two stops. Leaving the coaching ranks after the 1991 season, he moved to the front office of several franchises, most recently with the San Francisco 49ers.

Erik Widmark followed Becker. He had played wide receiver for Cal Western University in the late 1960s and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for Cal Western, in 1970. He moved on to the University of San Diego for a year, before assuming the duties of offensive coordinator for Cal Poly, in 1973. Widmark was serving as the head coach of Pasadena City College, in 1978, when Brooks selected him to be his quarterbacks/wide receivers coach, in 1979.

With Becker’s departure, Widmark was promoted to offensive coordinator, a position he held for three seasons. After leaving the Ducks, Widmark worked in the NFL, most recently as the personnel director for the Arizona Cardinals. Since leaving that job, in 1994, he has been the Executive Director of the Grand Canyon State Games. An interesting tidbit is that Widmark’s son-in-law is former Duck offensive lineman Adam Snyder.

Widmark was the last Oregon assistant coach promoted from a position coach role to offensive coordinator until Scott Frost was promoted from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2013. With Widmark’s departure, Brooks went outside the program and hired Bob Toledo, who had been a star quarterback for San Francisco State in 1966 and 1967.

Toledo’s first collegiate coaching job was at UC Riverside, in 1973, moving into the head coaching job in 1974. From there, he moved on to USC for three seasons, where he coached the secondary. In 1979, he was named the head coach at Pacific, a position he held for four seasons. That was followed by the Oregon job, one that he held through the 1988 season.  During his last two seasons at Oregon, Toledo also served as assistant head coach.

Toledo is largely credited with the development of Chris Miller and Bill Musgrave, during Musgrave’s first two seasons. He left the Ducks for the offensive coordinator position with Texas A&M, followed by the same position at UCLA, where he was named head coach in 1996, a position he held until 2002.

After several years out of coaching, Toledo was hired as the offensive coordinator at New Mexico, followed a year later by the head coaching job at Tulane, which lasted for four seasons. More recently, Toledo was hired as the offensive coordinator at San Diego State, replacing another former Duck offensive coordinator, Andy Ludwig.

Bob Toledo 1987

Bob Toledo (far left on sideline) 1987

Of the offensive coordinators before Mike Bellotti, Bob Toledo was the most successful at Oregon. But even during the not-so-glory years, Oregon was cranking out more than its share of excellent offensive coaches. Their problem was that Oregon simply lacked the offensive talent — particularly in the 1970s — that we have come to enjoy and expect in the new millennium.

Top Photo by John Gustina

Chris Miller: Missed Practices to Blame for South’s 31-14 Loss to Grants Pass


South Eugene High head coach Chris Miller wasn’t shy with his critiques when his players gathered around him for a post-game meeting Friday.

Miller was “sick and tired” of his players missing practices in past weeks, and assessed his players’ drops, holding penalties and other mistakes with this issue.

Grants Pass players await a kickoff to open their divisional game against South Eugene. Grants Pass would score on their first drive. (Franklin Bains/Eugene Daily News)
Grants Pass players await a kickoff to open their divisional game against South Eugene. Grants Pass would score on their first drive. (Franklin Bains/Eugene Daily News)

The South Eugene Axemen (2-4, 0-4) continued their tough start to the southwest division season, falling 31-14 to the Grants Pass Cavemen (4-2, 3-1).

“We play like we practice. We got guys missing practices all week, we make the same mistake in games that we do in practice,” Miller said. “This culture over here, it’s been ok for guys to miss practice.”

Yep, we’re talking about practice.

After two huge wins to open the season, South Eugene has had four bad losses in the last four weeks. SEHS opened the losing streak with a 49-7 drubbing at the hands of Sheldon and have lost each by double digits.

The Axemen had a slow start to this one, and gave up 21 straight points to their visitors who used big plays and solid defense to stay ahead. After Grants Pass scored on its first drive, South Eugene marched back and looked prime to answer, but a bad snap on fourth down at the Cavemen 28 forced a turnover on downs.

South Eugene got the ball back with just over 2 minutes left in the first quarter, but another strong drive fell short and 4th and long forced a punt. Grants Pass took that possession all the way down for another scoring drive, before getting the ball back two plays later when previously spotless SEHS QB Ray Roundtree threw his only pick.

With about 3 minutes left in the half, and three plays after the pick, GPHS was up 21-0.

Things turned around a bit when a Cavemen field goal attempt got blocked to end the half. South Eugene got the ball to start the second half and finished a successful drive with a Roundtree touchdown pass to Maliek Inocencio to cut the Grants Pass lead to 21-7.

Roundtree had an excellent second half to finish the game with a respectable 16-for-32 for 149, one interception against one touchdown. He added 41 rushing yards on 8 attempts, with a couple long scrambles to keep the Axemen in business on a couple of drives.

However, the Cavemen were too much over the next nine minutes as they ripped off ten straight points to end their scoring night and lead 31-7. Javan Appling was exceptional on this stretch for Grants Pass, completing all four of his passes and accounting for 37 of his team’s yards in those two possessions.

Roundtree and Quinn Cota answered on the next drive, starting from the 33 and picking up big chunks of yards. The touchdown for Cota would come a little late, though as the drive took up 5 minutes and left them with just 5:53, trailing 31-14.

Cota was the workhorse, picking up 62 yards on 19 carries, scoring one touchdown. Cota also caught one pass for six yards.

Grants Pass fumbled on their very next play, leaving one shot for a very distant comeback. Roundtree was 1-for-3 on that final South Eugene drive and picked up just 8 yards on a QB keeper, tossing an incompletion that gave Grants Pass the ball with 4:21 to go.

It was too little, too late for the Axemen, and came down to a rough start and players shooting themselves in the foot early. When all was said and done, the 21-point first-half advantage was too much to overcome.

Ray Roundtree prepares to hike the ball against Grants Pass. Roundtree picked up 149 passing yards and 190 total yards on the night. (Franklin Bains/Eugene Daily News)
Ray Roundtree prepares to hike the ball against Grants Pass. Roundtree picked up 149 passing yards and 190 total yards on the night. (Franklin Bains/Eugene Daily News)

“We got good plays, we had good stuff. We had Connor Still running down the sideline uncovered, we threw it over his head,” Miller said. “At some point in time, you gotta be accountable; you gotta do your job, and you gotta show up and you gotta go to practice. It’s apparent, it’s showing.”

South Eugene has three games left on the season. The Axemen travel to North Medford next Friday and Miller is not accepting many excuses for his players not having a productive practice week.

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Preps Football: Sheldon Irish Silence South Eugene, 49-7


Lane Johnson’s work on Ludwig Field was complete for the night Friday as his Sheldon High football team wrapped up a 49-7 win over the South Eugene Axemen. The Irish players jogged past the their head coach to the locker room after some of them posed for pictures with classmates who’d done it up with the horned-rimmed glasses and such for Nerd Night. “We knew (South Eugene) were going to be spunky,” Johnson said. “And we told them that they’d be spunky as long as we kept them in the game.”

Sheldon Irish
Sheldon quarterback Joseph Kuehn threw three TD passes against South Eugene Friday night. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

By the looks of it, the Irish patience for its plucky opposition endured just two possessions in the Southwest Conference match-up. After the Axemen kept Sheldon from scoring on its first two possessions of the game, Irish junior defensive back Justus Adams blocked a South Eugene punt that resulted in a safety and a 2-0 lead for Sheldon at 4:10 in the first quarter.

“The blocked punt was a momentum changer,” Johnson said. “We were a little sluggish at the start. Part of that was South Eugene, so you have to give them credit.”

Any listlessness on Sheldon’s part ended there, as the Irish followed the safety with an eight-play drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joseph Kuehn to running back Taylor Tharp. An extra-point kick and Sheldon led 9-0. There was more, though, and it came in a flurry. First, Sheldon defensive lineman Taylor Conlon intercepted a pass and returned it about five yards for a touchdown. As the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter, Sheldon wide receiver Kellen Strahm caught a Kuehn pass for a 59-yard touchdown reception, Strahm’s first TD of the season. The Irish led 22-0 entering the second quarter.

Strahm’s next reception was also a touchdown and came after Conlon recovered a South Eugene fumble. Strahm ended the game with six catches for 99 yards and two TDs. The Axemen fumbled again and the succeeding possession for Sheldon closed with a 5-yard TD run by Yadie Dunmore, who led all rushers with 94 yards on 15 carries. Dunmore’s score and the extra-point kick put Sheldon ahead 36-0 at halftime.

Sheldon Irish
Irish defensive lineman Taylor Conlon intercepted a pass and ran it back for a TD in Sheldon’s 49-7 win over South Eugene. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

The first two times Sheldon received the ball in the second half, it scored to expand the lead to 49-0: first on a 6-yard pass from Kuehn to Mitchell Herbert and then on a 3-yard TD run by Tharp, who set it up two plays earlier with a 68-yard run along the right sideline. Tharp carried the ball just five times but accumulated 90 yards. Kuehn completed 13 of 21 passes for 195 yards and three TDs.

And while South Eugene turned the ball over three times, each one leading to Sheldon scores, the Irish had no turnovers, a contrast to the five turnovers Sheldon committed in a 59-49 loss to top-ranked Central Catholic last week in a non-league 6A game.

“The turnover differential is always important,” Kuehn said. “We were really trying to take care of that.”

The Axemen scored at 11:24 in the fourth quarter, when running back Quinn Cota closed out a 15-play, 80-yard drive with a 3-yard TD run.  South Eugene ran for just 43 yards and threw for 163. The three turnovers and the third blocked punt in as many games were too much to overcome.

South Eugene Axemen
South Eugene’s offense hurt itself with three turnovers against Sheldon. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

“It was a long, super, super long shot that we were going to win that,” South Eugene head coach Chris Miller said. “But we had some flashes of good offense and good runs. Sheldon’s done that to a lot of teams. Sheldon’s throttled some good football programs.”

Next on Sheldon’s program is a road trip to North Medford on Friday, while South Eugene (2-1, 0-1 in conference) will play host to South Medford. Ranked No. 2 in the state among 6A teams, the Irish are now 2-1 overall and 1-0 in conference.

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High School Football: South Eugene Defense Spurns Willamette Comeback Attempt


South Eugene defensive back John Saylor saw it in the quarterback’s eyes. Willamette’s Kosey Mitchell had beaten him several times before with passes to receiver Darius Jackson within 12 yards of the line of scrimmage. Saylor’s defensive coach had already made him aware of the missteps. This time, though, Saylor and the other Axemen defenders moved off of the line and gave Jackson some open space ahead of him. The trap was set, and this time, it was Saylor who charged in front of Jackson to intercept Mitchell’s pass. The play squashed Willamette’s attempt at a comeback with 55 seconds remaining in this non-league game. Two plays later, game time expired and South Eugene had clinched a 14-9 road win. “I had missed on that route two or three times before,” said Saylor, who had his second interception in two games. “I was looking for the same route…We came to play tonight.”

South Eugene's John Saylor (3) and the Axemen defense kept Willamette's Kosey Mitchell and the Wolverine offense in check during 14-9 win Friday night. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)
South Eugene’s John Saylor (3) and the Axemen defense kept Willamette’s Kosey Mitchell and the Wolverine offense in check during 14-9 win Friday night. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

Later, South Eugene defensive coordinator Kevin Leonard would say, “I yelled at him earlier in the game, and he said he was not going to (get beat on the play) again. And he didn’t. There he was. Game over.”

In the post-game gathering, it was Saylor who handed the game ball to Leonard in honor of the death of the coach’s uncle, Fredrick Davidson. “This is for all of you guys, and your work,” Leonard said.

“It’s been hard concentrating this week, but these are resilient young men. And they did the little things I asked them to do. They’re getting better, aren’t they? They are flying around and having fun playing with each other.”

It may have been fun, but, as South Eugene head coach Chris Miller told his players, it was an unattractive game full of penalties (120 yards worth for the Axemen and 71 for the Wolverines) and better defensive play than offense. Both teams had scored more than 30 points in their season openers, but this game was different. “Sometimes in football, you have to win ugly,” Miller said. “That’s a good (Willamette) football team over there. I love the coaching staff over there…But we’re in their house, and we beat their butts in their house.”  

The game featured two coaching staffs with former Oregon Ducks football players, most significantly, Miller and Willamette head coach Adam Kennybrew. Both former offensive players, Miller a quarterback and Kennybrew a running back, the head coaches encountered unyielding defense, but it was South Eugene’s defensive team that had the better day. Including Saylor’s interception, the Axemen closed the night with three interceptions and one fumble recovery. “They did it,” Axemen running back Quinn Cota said about his defense. “Our defense was our turning point.”

South Eugene quarterback Ray Roundtree throws a pass in Friday's 14-9 win over Willamette. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)
South Eugene quarterback Ray Roundtree throws a pass in Friday’s 14-9 win over Willamette. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

Cota benefited from his defense in the first quarter. After the Axemen defense stopped the Wolverines on fourth down for the second time in the game, the South Eugene offense went on a 17-play, scoring drive that covered 75 yards in 7 minutes and 39 seconds. Cota ended the drive with a 1-yard , touchdown run, but it came after two big runs, one of 18 yards by quarterback Ray Roundtree and a 20-yard run by Cota, who led all players with 77 yards rushing on 21 carries. With the extra-point kick, South Eugene led 7-0 just 18 seconds into the second quarter.

Willamette crafted a 12-play drive that resulted in a 34-yard field goal by kicker Ivan Garcia. That made the score 7-3, which was how the first half ended.

Both teams fumbled on their first drives of the third quarter, but while South Eugene recovered its fumble, Willamette turned it over to the Axemen, and South Eugene used the possession to initiate its second scoring drive. Starting at the South Eugene 35-yard line, Roundtree connected on a 22-yard pass to tight end Connor Still start it and later hit Cota for a 21-yard pass. A pivotal play came when the Axemen moved the ball 15-yards from the end zone. It was fourth down and four yards to go when Willamette was called for pass interference on a throw from South Eugene’s other quarterback Liam Duncan. The penalty occurred in the end zone, and after that penalty flag was thrown, Willamette was penalized again for unsportsmanlike conduct. South Eugene was then given a first down on the 4-yard line and three plays later running back Quinton Richardson in from the 1. The extra-point kick expanded the Axemen lead to 14-3.

Willamette running back Sam Aguirre ran for 31 of the Wolverine's 40 total rushing yards against South Eugene. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)
Willamette running back Sam Aguirre ran for 31 of the Wolverine’s 40 total rushing yards against South Eugene. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

The Willamette running game fizzled. The Wolverines managed just 11 yards rushing in the second half and had just one rushing first down. They had to turn to the passing game in the second half, but it wasn’t until junior Taylor Brown blocked a South Eugene punt with 4:58 remaining in the game did it appear that Willamette had a chance. The blocked punt gave the Wolverines the ball at the South Eugene 12-yard line, and three plays later Mitchell ran in from a yard out for a touchdown. The extra-point kick failed, but, with the the score 14-9, it wouldn’t matter. Willamette needed another touchdown, not a field goal, to have a chance at a win.

“Even with us not executing, we had a shot,” Kennybrew said. “(After the blocked punt) if we get a quick score, and the momentum shifts, we had a chance on defense to get a stop, which we did. That shift and transition is like an a-ha moment for my players because it gave them an understanding that even when we are down, we can still be on top.”

South Eugene had the ball with 4:15 left in the game, and the Axemen broke through for two first downs, but Willamette’s defense forced South Eugene to turn the ball over after an incomplete pass on fourth down and five yards to go. That gave the Wolverines the ball 68 yards away from the end zone with 1:07. “When you have a chance to win the game and you have the football, you have to do it,” Miller said. “We didn’t handle it on our end.”

Fortunately for Miller and South Eugene, Saylor noticed the quarterback’s eyes and took care of the game with his interception. “To win a game when you’re playing so poorly offensively, the defense has to have a big game,” Miller said.

Kennybrew said: “(Saylor) baited my quarterback. We were going to (Jackson) consistently. He was getting almost two out of every three passes we threw. I think (South Eugene) played off (Jackson) and we thought he had a cushion to throw to. When he threw it, they broke for the ball. We will take and learn from it. Now we know that if we develop a pattern throwing to the same receiver, we need to make him a decoy.”

Willamette head coach Adam Kennybrew talks with officials in Friday's game against South Eugene. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)
Willamette head coach Adam Kennybrew talks with officials in Friday’s game against South Eugene. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

Saylor’s interception sealed the win for the Axemen, who are 2-0 for the first time since 2009. South Eugene heads to Sheldon High next week to play the defending 6A champion Irish, 59-49 losers to Central Catholic Friday night. Willamette falls to 1-1 and will play host to Springfield next Friday. 

“(The two wins) will give us a little momentum,” Miller said. “I have to do a better job of getting our guys ready. We know when we go (to Sheldon) we have to go and play with the big boys.”


South Eugene Axemen Open With “Unforgettable” Win Over Churchill


Yes, the win was big. When you’ve won two games in three years like the South Eugene Axemen, one of those being a forfeit, a victory on the football field merits a celebration. So that’s what they did Friday night at South Eugene High’s Morrow Field. The Axemen defeated Churchill High, 35-14, in the season opener for both teams, and, after adhering to the public address announcer’s request to wait for the teams to shake hands, the fans engulfed the field. They ran, they jumped, they smiled.

Fans rush the field after South Eugene's 35-14 win over Churchill. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)
Fans rush the field after South Eugene’s 35-14 win over Churchill. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

Not since the fifth game of the 2010 season, a 34-28 win over Crater, has South Eugene won a game on the football field, and the last time the Axemen won a season opener was in 2009. “No one’s going to forget this,” Axemen senior defensive lineman Quinton Richardson said. “We had a forfeit (win in 2011), but I don’t count it. This is my first we-scored-more-than-them, we-played-better-than-them win. It felt so right. It felt as if this happened before. It was the weirdest feeling.”

It was the feeling South Eugene head coach Chris Miller hoped to revive when he took over the 6A program this year. The former Oregon and NFL quarterback had coached at South Eugene for five years before leaving after the 2006 season. Entering this year, Miller set three targets for this team: be competitive, earn respect, win the first game. “We competed like crazy. They earned my respect, and I think they earned the respect of the community, our fans and their parents,” Miller said. “So three-for-three’s a good start.”

The Axemen opened the game against their 5A opponent with a 13-play scoring drive, followed by an interception returned for a touchdown by the defense to jump ahead 13-0 with 4:27 left in the first quarter. A Churchill pass-interference penalty on a fourth down extended the initial drive for South Eugene, and the touchdown also came on a fourth-down play. On a play that appeared to have broken down, junior quarterback Liam Duncan rolled left and tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior Thayne Kollmorgen. The extra-point kick, also by Kollmorgen, put South Eugene up 7-0.

Then on the Lancers’ third offensive play of the game, junior linebacker John Saylor intercepted a Churchill pass and worked his way past defenders into the end zone for another touchdown. The extra-point kick failed, putting the Axemen ahead 13-0. “It set the tone for the entire game because we had just scored on offense, and it was just, ‘What can our defense do?'” Richardson said. “We fired off, and he had an amazing run.”

“We didn’t break. We didn’t stop. We just stayed together.”

South Eugene tight end Connor Still hauls in a touchdown reception against Churchill. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)
South Eugene tight end Connor Still hauls in a touchdown reception against Churchill. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

After forcing Churchill to punt for the second time in the game, South Eugene’s quarterback duo of Duncan and sophomore Ray Roundtree went to work. Roundtree hit senior tight end Connor Still for a 46-yard reception that put them 20 yards from the end zone. Three plays later, Duncan found Still for a 13-yard touchdown pass. South Eugene forced Churchill to punt again, and went on a 14-play drive that ended with Roundtree throwing a 5-yard touchdown to Still. The Axemen went up 27-0. “We just couldn’t handle (Still),” Churchill head coach Darrell Mehl said. “Our little safeties on that big guy? It was a tough match-up. We knew that going in.”

Still finished the game with six receptions for 87 yards and two touchdown catches. Roundtree completed 9-of-15 passes for 134 yards and 2 TD passes. In addition to quarterback, Duncan played a significant role as a receiver and finished with 131 yards on offense (59 passing, 32 running and 40 receiving).

Churchill put up its first points of the game on its final drive of the first half. The score came when sophomore quarterback Justin Kearney connected with senior receiver Mike Monroy for a 26-yard pass. 

South Eugene strained offensively in the second half, but the defense held Churchill off by forcing punts and with a substantive fourth-down stop with the Lancers on the 15-yard line early in the third quarter. Churchill senior linebacker Mitch Hindrum blocked a South Eugene punt, which set the Lancers up at the 14-yard line. Two plays later, Monroy ran 10 yards for Churchill’s final score. The Axemen lead was cut to 27-14 with 9:02 left.

Churchill's Michael Monroy scored two touchdowns for the Lancers. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)
Churchill’s Michael Monroy scored two touchdowns for the Lancers. (Gary Breedlove/EDN)

“The barn door flew open, and we did get it closed,” Mehl said. “We had momentum (at that point). I almost had us onside kick, but I was thinking, ‘Our defense was playing well – finally. We’ll make a stop and if we score again, we can cut the lead to six points.’ It was sloppy. We didn’t execute what we needed to execute.”

“We gave them all kinds of opportunities, extra chances. I knew (South Eugene) was going to be a little bit better anyway, and I knew Chris is a good football coach. We made some coaching mistakes. Our players didn’t play as well as I hoped, but I knew we were going to have trouble because of our youth.”

The Axemen responded to the Lancers’ score with a lengthy drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by Duncan at 4:40 in the fourth quarter. That and a two-point conversion by Kollmorgen solidified the win for South Eugene and their new coach.As a head coach you have a lot of questions,” Miller said. “You’re like, ‘I hope they can.’ And we preached all week about getting off to a fast start. So even though that first drive was funky, we scored and that was huge. Then we got a turnover and went up 13-0. But in football there are ebbs and flows. And I was really proud of how these guys answered the bell and put the nail in the coffin on the last drive.”

For Churchill, Kearney finished with 80 yards rushing and 89 yards passing on 9-of-14 passes. Sophomore receiver Junior Perez had four receptions for 49 yards, and Monroy had 26 yards receiving and 30 rushing with two touchdowns. “I thought we’d play better and harder,” Mehl said. “I’m not going to chuck in the towel yet. I think we have some players that can play. We just need to do a better job of coaching every position. We have lots of room for improvement in every area.”

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High School Football Preview: Chris Miller’s Task at South Eugene


Certainly he wants them to win games. It’s foremost in the minds of all Oregon high school football coaches who opened the first week of two-a-day practices this Monday. But as Chris Miller embarks on his second time as the head football coach at South Eugene High School, the former NFL and Oregon quarterback recognizes several factors need to be established at a school that’s won one game in three years before anyone can concern themselves with victories. Miller describes his two simple goals for his players: “One is to learn how to compete…They haven’t been pushed. The bar hasn’t been set really high. We’re setting that bar high. And, two, is to earn respect. These kids were laughed at. These kids were made fun of. When people look at their schedule, they think, ‘Oh, here’s South. Here’s an easy one. We’ll kill them.’ So I want these kids to earn respect so when they walk around these hallways or around town and someone sees them wearing a South Eugene football shirt, people think, ‘Oh, South Eugene. Those guys are playing tough over there.'”

South Eugene's new head football coach is Chris Miller, the former Oregon Duck coached the Axemen from 2002 to 2006. (David Saez/EDN)
South Eugene’s new head football coach is Chris Miller, the former Oregon Duck coached the Axemen from 2002 to 2006. (David Saez/EDN)

Miller coached the South Eugene Axemen for three years, from 2002-2006. After a rough1-8 first season, his teams finished 30-13 and made the playoffs in four of the five years. The respect for Axemen football has collapsed over the last three years. In 2012, South Eugene lost all 10 games, with only two close scores, a 48-42 loss to Willamette and a 28-21 defeat by Thurston. The team’s last win on the field came in 2010 (although they won a game by forfeit in 2011).

Entering his 11th year as a coach, Miller returns to South Eugene after working three years as the quarterback coach for the Arizona Cardinals. His team returns 10 returning starters. On offense, five starting players return from last year: Michael Bennett (junior, offensive lineman), Liam Duncan (jr., quarterback), Thayne Kollmorgen (sr., wide receiver), Quinton Richardson (senior, offensive lineman), and Conner Still (sr., tight end). Defensively, five starters are back: CJ Hodgson (sr., safety), Michael Selvan (sr., safety), Bennett (defensive line), Still (defensive line and linebacker),  and Richardson (defensive line).

Chris Miller
Chris Miller

“We’re going to run everything on offense,” Miller said. “We’re going to run whatever fits. One thing about me is I’ve seen about every play run imaginable known to man because in the NFL you can access every single play (digitally). So there’s no secrets. I have a got a big grab bag of plays we can draw from, and I’m going to run what fits our personnel and our kids. Some people are locked into schemes. There are numerous schemes that fit our personnel, and that’s yet to be determined.”

The transition to a new coach includes new coaches. Miller has brought with him a crew of former players and coaches to his locker room. New to the team are former Oregon Duck and NFL running back Dino Philyaw (assistant head coach in charge of running backs); former Churchill defensive coordinator and Portland State football and basketball player Kevin Leonard (assistant head coach/defensive coordinator); former South Eugene High and Southern Oregon University player Alex Morrison (offensive line coach and assistant defensive line coach); and former South Eugene High receiver and cornerback Logan Beal (wide receiver and defensive back coach/strength and conditioning. Miller retained three coaches from last year’s team: Sean Emrick (assistant coach – quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers); Don Oakerson (defensive line coach); and Karsten Tindal (assistant coach – offensive and defensive lines).

The coaches are working with about 75 players this year, compared to the 52 to 54 who turned out last year. Miller characterizes his team as green to football and the culture he’s attempting to foster. “The culture around here has been trying hard and being close is OK,” he said. “…Football’s a game you just can’t go through the motions. Guys have to love it. That’s the number one thing we’re trying to instill in these kids. This is a special game. This is a game about life lessons. It’s a game about family, having your brother’s back. These guys haven’t been taught. They don’t know that. Not everyone’s going to love the game at the same level. But, still, how you play football and how you compete translates directly to the classroom here at South, translates directly to life, when you go to college. When you get out of college, 50 percent of college graduates can’t find a job. You better go out there and be special and find a way to compete so you can find work.”

South Eugene Axemen running backs prepare for the 2013 season. (David Saez/EDN)
South Eugene Axemen running backs prepare for the 2013 season. (David Saez/EDN)

There will be much work to be done. His initial focus with his players has been the fundamentals. The coaches have stressed basics, things like knowing where to line up, knowing that, as a receiver or tight end, you go when the ball moves and not on the snap count. Miller said he and his staff have assumed the players knew nothing and have been teaching everything. “They’re eager, they’re anxious,” Miller said. “They want to learn…They’re working hard. We have some bullets in the gun. We have some weapons. We’re not going to be shooting blanks.

As a team in the 6A Southwest Conference, the Axemen will have their share of challenges, including defending 6A state champion Sheldon. Miller is a 1983 graduate of Sheldon and was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Falcons in 1987. He played 10 years in the NFL with the Falcons, St. Louis Rams and Denver Broncos before being named to the 2004 Class of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. This year, though, he begins a second attempt at reviving South Eugene football. And while competing and earning respect are the main targets for this group, winning isn’t too far behind. “Win our first game. That’s our third goal,” Miller said. “(South Eugene’s) won one game in three years, so if we win one, were off to a good start.”

South Eugene Football Schedule (games start at 7 p.m.):

  • Aug. 30 – Churchill
  • Sept. 6 – at Willamette
  • Sept. 13 – at Sheldon
  • Sept. 20 – South Medford
  • Sept. 27 – at Roseburg
  • Oct. 4 – Grants Pass
  • Oct. 11 – at North Medford
  • Oct. 18 – Crater
  • Oct. 25 – at Thrust

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December 19 – Morning Headlines


Morning Headlines


South Eugene gets a Christmas present.  This is the 6th day before Christmas
South Eugene gets a Christmas present. This is the 6th day before Christmas
  • County takes down barricades around free speech plaza
    The Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza is once again open to everyone, after Lane County officials on Monday removed steel barricades that had surrounded the public square outside the county courthouse since Dec. 12. The temporary fencing was put in place a 
  • Man sentenced in truck attack
    An anger-fueled attack in which a pickup truck was used as a weapon has landed a Eugene man a 12-year prison sentence for attempted murder. Lane County Circuit Judge Debra Vogt handed down the sentence Tuesday in the case of Francisco Ochoa
  • Police: Avalanche causes fiery 4-car crash
    An out-of-control Chevy Avalanche pushed the car ahead of it into a third car before crashing into an oncoming car in a fiery 4-car crash Tuesday afternoon, Oregon State Police said
  • Beacons get 2nd win in league
    Northwest Christian defeated Evergreen State College on Tuesday in Cascade Collegiate Conference women’s basketball, 43-40, behind 10 points from both Lindsey Shearer and Haley Vandenhazel. It’s NCU’s second consecutiv…
  • Lancers open league in style
    DeShone Brooks made five three-pointers to score 25 points as Churchill opened Midwestern League play with an 86-51 home win over Willamette on Tuesday night. Brooks was 9-for-11 from the field to help the Lancers shoot 62.7 percent as a team. David Sh...
  • Chris Miller re-hired to coach South Eugene High football
    South Eugene has called on Chris Miller to revive its football program once again. The former Oregon and NFL quarterback called it “round two” after he was hired as coach of the Axemen on Tuesday. Miller led the Axemen to a 31-21 record…
  • Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long denied eligibility appeal by NCAA
    Offensive lineman Kyle Long will play his final game for Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3, after being denied an appeal to the NCAA for another year of eligibility, two UO sources said Tuesday. Long’s collegiate athletic career was delayed whi…
  • Oregon trail left behind in Duck women’s basketball victory
    First came back-to-back jump shots by Jordan Loera, then a three-pointer from Danielle Love and another by Ariel Thomas. It was clear from the start Tuesday that the Oregon women’s basketball team wasn’t going to have any letdown after brea…

Keep Current: – EDN Headline News, Sports and Weather

Tim Chuey Weather:


[gn_note color=#eee][Accuweather][/gn_note]

Here we are in the middle of the week with Winter officially beginning at 3:12 AM Friday.

Another upper level trough of low pressure is moving down from the Gulf of Alaska following the one that is moving away from us. A warm front (shown in red) is moving through raising temperatures a bit and raining the snow levels well above the valley floor. It will be followed by a cold front that will push in late tonight and Thursday. For skiers Mt. Ashland and Hoodoo are open and Willamette Pass opened their season today.

The Winter Solstice takes place at 3:12 AM PST Friday and that marks the official beginning of Winter and the shortest day of the year. For more detail see The Old Farmer’s Almanac.


High: 45
Low: 25
Forecast: Mostly cloudy with rain, possibly mixed with snow early this AM, rain in the afternoon (0.50 in. of rain possible) today and windy (wind: S 20-30 mph), rain tonight (0.75 in. of rain possible) and windy (wind: S 20-30 mph), mostly cloudy with rain Thursday (0.50 in. of rain possible), showers Thursday night, showers likely (70%) Friday,  then rain Friday night highs 45-42 warming to 45 Friday lows 35-38. Mostly cloudy with rain Saturday, showers likely (60%) Saturday night and Sunday, a good (50%) chance of showers Sunday night and Monday, then mostly cloudy with a (40%) chance of showers Monday night and Tuesday (Christmas Day) highs near 45 lows near 38. (seasonal averages high 45 low 33)

Because weather forecasting is a combination of science, intuition, and timing there can be no absolute guarantees that individual forecasts will be 100% accurate. Nature is in a constant state of flux and sudden unexpected weather events can happen.

Keep Current on the Weather:

Benefit For Autism

When the weather forecast is bad and the news is bad, there is always music. In this case it’s an album of exceptional local Eugene talent whose proceeds benefit the Kindtree Autism Rocks charity. Support Autism, the arts, and a bright spot in your day.

[bandcamp album=2124098872 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

Chris Miller, former Duck and NFL QB and coach, re-hired to coach South Eugene High football

South Eugene has called on Chris Miller to revive its football program once again. The former Oregon and NFL quarterback called it “round two” after he was hired as coach of the Axemen on Tuesday. Miller led the Axemen to a 31-21 record from 2002-06, and South reached the playoffs …