EUGENE — In the 2014 Friday Night Blitz preview special, the KEZI 9 Sports team looks ahead to the upcoming high school football season. We take you to 12 different Western Oregon high schools, get perspective from the Register-Guard’s Ben Schorzman, and reveal our Friday Night Blitz game of the week live broadcast schedule.
Tyler Reid hovered like a coach as a group of Churchill running backs warmed up on Morrow Field before last Friday’s season-opening football game at South Eugene. This was to be the start of his senior season at Churchill, but on this night, Reid wore no pads or helmet. A season-ending injury to his left knee earlier this summer relegated the former Lancers running back to the sidelines. Actually, he wasn’t even supposed to be at the game. He had originally been scheduled to have surgery on his right knee the day of the season opener, but Reid postponed the procedure until this Thursday. “I just wanted to come and see the first game,” Reid said before the game. For Reid and Lancers fans, it was a tough one to watch, as Churchill fell to the Axemen, 35-14.
Instead of playing, Reid helped the Churchill coaching staff during pre-game warm-ups. The lost season has Reid serving as a coach. “I’m just trying to make this running back team better, trying to make the players better,” he said. “Right now, I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team before I have to go to surgery.”
Last year, Reid played a game and a half when he injured his left knee. In that short time, he’d amassed 419 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. He didn’t play the remainder of the season and had knee surgery. This summer, while playing 7-on-7 football, another player’s knee collided with his left knee. Initially, his doctor said it wasn’t serious and had Reid begin physical therapy. Thereafter, he consulted with his surgeon, who told him he’d torn the anterior cruciate ligament. “I worked hard to figure out I had to sit out the entire season,” Reid said.
“I’m definitely going insane right now,” he said as he watched his teammates run through their pre-grame drills. “I’m keeping my sanity. I’m trying to get everybody else pumped up. That’s what I can do…It’s just a challenge. I’ve dealt with a lot of challenges in my life. It’s just another obstacle on the road. I can overcome it just like I’ve done with every other obstacle that’s come in my way.”
Reid has been offered the opportunity to be a preferred walk-on at Oregon. His aim now is to rehabilitate and work himself back so he can play Division I football. “I’m going to do whatever I can so I can shine again.”
Reid will miss his team’s second game, a road contest at Liberty, but he says he’ll be back for game three at Eagle Point.
REUNION TIME FOR SOUTH EUGENE’S LEONARD, CHURCHILL COACHES
A family reunion of sorts commenced with hugs and laughter near the 50-yard line at Morrow Field last Friday when the Churchill Lancers played South Eugene. When former Ducks and NFL quarterback Chris Miller accepted the South Eugene head coaching position, he wooed Kevin Leonard from the Churchill coaching staff.
Leonard had been Miller’s defensive coordinator in his previous tenure with South Eugene, but for the last seven years Leonard has been the defensive coordinator for the Lancers. Now an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Axemen, Leonard and his former colleagues at Churchill joked and embraced as the teams ran through their pre-game drills.
“Whenever you move somewhere, it’s a bit awkward because they’re good guys and great coaches,” Leonard said. “But they understand, and they know we’ll always be family. You can tell by the how we interacted.”
WEEK 2: KEY GAMES TO WATCH
Among the big games being played this week in Eugene is the face-off between former Oregon Ducks, now high school head coaches South Eugene’s Chris Miller and Willamette’s Adam Kennybrew. The Wolverines (1-0) will play host to a South Eugene team that is coming off it’s first win in three years (not including win by forfeit in 2011).
Sheldon (1-0) will face its second-straight 2012 6A playoff quarterfinalist in as many games when it welcomes Central Catholic (1-0). The Rams defeated Grant 55-14 last week. The Irish have defeated Central Catholic in their last two meetings, 33-26 last year in non-league game and 18-9 in the 2011 state semifinals. This game will be a big test for Sheldon, the 2012 6A state champion.
WEEK 1 RECAP
If you missed any of the action, here’s a run down of how other Eugene-Springfield area teams fared last week:
Marist High School: The Spartans managed just one touchdown in a 17-7 loss to West Albany. Marist sophomore Brody Cooper connected with Dustin Jones for the lone Spartan touchdown. Cooper completed 11 of 30 passes for 108 yards, a TD and two interceptions. Marist (0-1) stays on the road and will play at Grant (0-1).
North Eugene High School: The Highlanders put points on the board, but they allowed Summit to score eight TDs and leave with a 56-35 road win. North Eugene senior quarterback Joey Butterfield threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score. Highlander junior Dane Stapley caught the TD pass, and he also tossed a TD pass. Adding scores for North Eugene were Chad Gillam (a running TD) and Drew Gerth (a TD reception). A big highlight was a 90-yard kickoff return by North Eugene’s Aaron Thompson. The Highlanders (0-1) will play its second-straight home game against South Albany (0-1).
Sheldon High School: The Irish jumped into the 2013 season with a 35-15 road win over Southridge on the road. Mitchell Herbert led the Irish with rushing three touchdowns. Sheldon had big contributions from Ben Planck (two rushing touchdowns), Kellen Strahm (three receptions for 112 yards), and Yadie Dunmore (three catches for 82 yards and 10 runs for 43 yards). First-year, starting quarterback Joseph Kuehn completed 17 of 24 passes for 330 yards.
Springfield High School: The Millers lost 34-7 on the road at Silverton. The Silver Foxes led Springfield by just 7-0 at halftime, but Silverton added 20-points in the third quarter and the Millers’ only score came in the third, too. Springfield (0-1) welcomes Corvallis (0-1) in week two.
Thurston High School: The Colts fell short in its season opener, a 37-34 loss at home to Aloha. Thurston scored two touchdowns within the last two minutes of the game but was unable to come from behind. Colts quarterback Brendin Quinn completed 25 of 34 passes for 262 yards, a touchdown pass and interception. Quinn also ran for a touchdown. Receiver Carson Cook caught the one touchdown pass and had 47 yards on six catches. Senior running back Roy Jackson scored three touchdowns for Thurston. The Colts (0-1) will travel to West Salem (1-0) this week.
Willamette High School: The Wolverines opened the season with a 34-20 win over Corvallis for first-year head coach and former Oregon running back Adam Kennybrew. Willamette running back Sam Aguirre ran 20 times for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Kosey Mitchell completed 9 of 20 passes for 137 yards and two touchdown passes. Geoff Kastel and Darius Jackson each caught TD passes.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
South Eugene Axemen football fans have to be ecstatic with a 35-14 win at home over the Churchill Lancers in new South’s Chris Miller‘s head coaching debut.
Difficult as it might be to lose a highly talented offensive player, Darrell Mehl has had to move on. You could say the Churchill High School head football coach has reached the fifth stage of grief: acceptance. It was about two weeks ago that Mehl learned that his team would once again play on without running back Tyler Reid. As a junior in 2012, Reid tore through the Lancer’s first two opponents, scoring seven rushing touchdowns on 27 carries and 419 yards. But that was before he suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee after just eight carries in the second game. This summer while playing a 7-on-7 football game, Reid injured his other knee and will be out for his senior season. “It was a killer for us,” Mehl said. “We’re trying to move on. I’ve already done my crying and am trying to move on…We are going to run the same stuff without Tyler as we would with him. Obviously, we would be a little more explosive with him than without him.”
A year ago, the Lancers went on to finish 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the 5A Midwestern League. Without Reid, who Mehl said was offered preferred walk-on status at Oregon, Mehl must find a way to adjust with the players he has. And while he says this team may not have the amount of talent last year’s group had, Mehl likes what he sees. “Nobody expects us to do anything, certainly without Tyler,” he said. “We might not, but yet, we might surprise some people.”
The Lancers return 14 players who started last season at one time or another and 17 with varsity experience. Mehl said his team lost 23 seniors from last year. “We’re young (and) inexperienced, but we are a serious try-hard team,” he said. “This is one of the best practicing teams since I’ve been here. They work hard, are smart, and do a good job of flying around. Whether that translates into wins, who knows.”
Last year, Churchill turned to several running backs to compensate for the loss of Reid. The one returning player with significant experience at the position is tailback J.C. Moran. One of eight juniors on the team this year, Moran is back after finishing 2012 with four touchdowns on 104 carries and 439 yards. Senior Mike Monroy ran the ball 31 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns, but he will play inside receiver. In that position, Monroy caught 27 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns last year.
At quarterback, Mehl will use two players to manage the team’s read-option offense: senior Brenden Nesbitt and sophomore Justin Kearney. Both saw limited action last year behind senior Mitch Reese, who threw for nearly 2,000 yards. Combined, they completed 2-of-5 passes for five yards. “(Nesbitt) is knowledgeable, throws the ball a little bit better and has a grasp of what we’re doing,” Mehl said. “(Kearney) is faster and athletic, but not as strong. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t play them both all year.”
Nesbitt and Kearney will target two particular wide receivers on the deeper passes, senior Spenser Schmidt and sophomore Junior Perez. Both are fast and tall, Schmidt is 6-foot-1 and Perez is 6-feet. “Those two outside guys are going to be our explosive-type players,” Mehl said. “Both are going to be good and can go the distance.”
Other returning players with experience as starters include offensive linemen junior Zach Bernardo and seniors Daulton Hankins, Josh Higashi, Mitch Hindrum, and Wyatt Imhoff.
Defensively, Churchill is lead by senior linebacker Trevor Johnson, second in tackles last year with 69 total and 36 solo, and senior defensive lineman Darren Kime, who had 37 tackles in eight games, and senior safety Alex Perez, who had nine tackles. Johnson, Monroy, Nesbitt and Hindrum make up the Lancers’ linebacker corp. “We have a nucleus of linebackers that are experienced and then we have athletic guys in the defensive backfield,” Mehl said. “We’re going to be fast and all of us will run to the football. Hopefully, we’ll have success that way on defense.”
“This group is playing hard like I want them to, and that excites me,” Mehl said. “But with all of our youth and inexperience, we are going to make a ton of mistakes. Hopefully those mistakes don’t cost us ball games…It will be interesting. I feel like if we don’t get hammered by a few (teams) early, lose our confidence, I think we’re going to be OK. I think we might be fragile. If (players) stop practicing as hard as they can, that will be a great disappointment. But I kind of have high hopes that these guys will get it done.”
Assistant coaches: Aaron Steigeler (offensive coordinator); Todd Kaanapu (offensive line); Don Bell (running backs); Gabriel LeMay (wide receivers); Les Duman (defensive line); Keith Lewis (safeties); and Aaron Crawford (cornerbacks).
Churchill Lancers 2013 Football Schedule:
- Aug. 30 – at South Eugene
- Sept. 6 – at Liberty
- Sept. 13 – at Eagle Point
- Sept. 20 – Ashland
- Oct. 4 – Willamette
- Oct. 11 – Marist
- Oct. 18 – at North Eugene
- Oct. 25 – Springfield
We’ve got three weeks until high school football teams can begin practicing on Aug. 19 and a week later the season opens on Aug. 30. Nevertheless, football is on the horizon and followers of the local teams in the 5A Midwestern League will want to know what the schedule looks like for the five teams from the Eugene-Springfield area in the eight-team conference.
Complete Local OSAA 5A High School Football Season Schedules:
Churchill Lancers (7-4 overall, 4-3 in league)
- Aug. 30 – at South Eugene
- Sept. 6 – at Liberty
- Sept. 13 – at Eagle Point
- Sept. 20 – Ashland
- Oct. 4 – Willamette
- Oct. 11 – Marist
- Oct. 18 – at North Eugene
- Oct. 25 – Springfield
- Aug. 30 – at West Albany
- Sept. 6 – at Grant
- Sept. 13 – Ashland
- Sept. 20 – Bend
- Sept. 26 – at Willamette
- Oct. 4 – Eagle Point
- Oct. 11 – at Churchill
- Oct. 18 – Springfield
- Oct. 25 – North Eugene
North Eugene Highlanders (2-7, 2-5)
- Aug. 30 – Summit
- Sept. 6 – South Albany
- Sept. 13 – at Hidden Valley
- Sept. 20 – Willamette
- Sept. 27 – at Eagle Point
- Oct. 4 – Ashland
- Oct. 11 – at Springfield
- Oct. 18 – Churchill
- Oct. 25 – at Marist
Springfield Millers (8-3, 6-1)
- Aug. 30 – at Silverton
- Sept. 6 – Corvallis
- Sept. 13 – at Willamette
- Sept. 20 – Eagle Point
- Sept. 27 – at Ashland
- Oct. 4 – Hermiston
- Oct. 11 – North Eugene
- Oct. 18 – at Marist
- Oct. 25 – at Churchill
- Aug. 30 – at Corvallis
- Sept. 6 – South Eugene
- Sept. 13 – Springfield
- Sept. 20 – at North Eugene
- Sept. 26 – Marist
- Oct. 4 – at Churchill
- Oct. 10 – Eagle Point
- Oct. 18 – at Ashland
MADISON, Wis. — Churchill High School cyclist Sam Rosenberg (15) after just making his international debut is already seeing results. Rosenberg won the USA Cycling National Criterium Championship on Sunday, a race for boys between the ages of 15 and 16. He finished the 25-kilometer race (15.43 miles) in a time of 32:19.
There were 80 participants in the race and it was an incredibly close finish with 11 riders finishing just one second behind Roseberg. Rosenberg is a member of a sponsored team of Hutch’s Bicycle Store, Slocum and Co-Motion Cycles.
“He’s got some legs; you can tell where the talent comes from,” Len Schvaneveldt, manager of Hutch’s Bicycle Store told a local media source. “In cycling, you’ve got to have the lungs and the talent. But it’s being smart, too. And I just think he’s an exceptionally smart kid.”
Rosenberg will be a junior next year at Churchill next year.
Two teams have been dominating Eugene prep basketball this season. On Friday night, these two powerhouses will collide in the game of the season regionally.
The (16-4, 9-0) Churchill Lancers sit in the No. 2 ranking in the entire state of Oregon, behind only Jefferson (Portland), and have four remaining games before the start of the 5A OSAA state playoffs. The (17-5, 6-1) Sheldon Irish will come into the game ranked No. 8 in the 6A standings. These two will face off Friday in a battle for revenge and bragging rights.
Sheldon pulled out a narrow 56-51 over Churchill on January 15th at home, but now the game is headed over to the Lancers’ Dome. Churchill has one of the most intimidating student sections in the region, and you can be they’ll be out for vengeance.
So, here is how the teams breakdown and why each team could win:
The Lancers opened the season an impressive 7-0, but dropped two of their next three games in the Mesa Challenge (Mesa, AZ tournament) to teams with a combined record of 41-10. Yeah, those were really good teams. But Churchill as a team has continued to grow since the losses, going 8-2 with both of their loses coming by three and five points to South Eugene and Sheldon respectively.
Since the back-to-back loses, the team has won by an average of 24.2 PPG. Only one of their last six wins has been by fewer than 14 points.
Churchill is at their hottest point, which is exactly where they want to be heading into postseason competition. The Lancers will want to continue the stride with a payback win over the rival Irish. With the home crowd behind them, they’ll role.
The Irish are the most athletically gifted team in the Eugene/Springfield area. Like the Lancers, Sheldon is on its hottest streak of the season and winners of their last 13 games. Excluding a 4-game losing streak early on in the season (three of them to out-of-league teams in the Les Schwab Invitational) the team has an astound 17-1 record.
Head coach Ron Lampe typically has to deal with slow starts to the season, as half of his players make the transition from football season to basketball.
The Irish have proven that they know how to take down the Lancers, not something many can say, and are primed to do it again on an even bigger stage. With the poise and senior leadership behind multi-sport star Connor Strahm, the home-court advantage won’t be a factor. Sheldon has the experience.
Game Prediction:Churchill 57 Sheldon 53
I swear this has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a Churchill alumni! This team is on a mission and seems ready to win its first state championship since 2001. Brothers Malik and Emanuel Morgan make for one of the strongest tandem of guards in the state. Along with 6’6″ Keidren Johnson, Churchill has a lethal inside-outside game. I see the Lancers getting payback for the January showdown exactly a month before.
Alex Shoemaker, EDN Sports Editor
If you asked three months ago which boys high school team would be the last Eugene area school standing, the easy choice would be the hot Sheldon Irish who seem to dominate in just about every sport imaginable. Unfortunately for the Irish, their basketball season, much like football, fell short of a state title when No. 1 seed Jesuit pulled off a 49-32 blowout victory.
The 22-4 (9-1) Churchill Lancers have put together one of the more impressive regular season runs in recent memory, but the season is far from over. On Thursday night, Churchill will face its toughest matchup yet against an even hotter 23-3 (13-0) Wilsonville Wildcats squad who has beaten the Lancers once this season already.
On December 11, the Lancers battled back-and-forth on the road, ultimately falling 61-55. This time around, the two should have another game for the ages.
Comparing the two teams is like comparing apples to oranges, even as cliché as it may sound. With that said, let’s break down how these teams matchup:
The Lancers have the strongest set of guards in all of 5A basketball led by senior point guard Aaron Ingram who has had an overlooked and quite impressive final year for Churchill. Alongside the reliable Ingram are his two equally impressive teammates, Emmanuel and Malik Morgan (yes, they are brother).
What makes the Lancers so dangerous? All five starters have the capability of draining a deep three or driving the lane for an easy layup. Watching the Churchill offense at its finest is like watching a varsity team take advantage of lesser skilled JV team; few teams can slow them down.
Key to Success: Not relying on the three-point shot.
Ever heard the expression “live by the three, die by the three”? Churchill has enough talent that they don’t need to go to the well too many times if the shots aren’t falling. Use speed and look for open layups.
Wilsonville can also beat you in a number of ways, but crashing the boards and using pure size is how they do it. Whether it’s dominating in rebounding or using their big men to block shots, the boys of Wilsonville can muscle smaller teams around. Watch for the Wildcat forwards to post-up the sorter Lancer defenders, and go inside most of the game.
Key to Success: Force the Lancers into bad shots.
Eugene Daily News will be there to bring you full coverage of the game to be posted after the game. Tipoff is set for 3:15 on Thursday March 8th.