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.
Note: All photos are available for purchase
The Springfield Millers’ (2-1, 1-0) high-powered offense overcame some sloppy play and dominated conference opponent Willamette Wolverines (1-2, 0-1) in every quarter. There was 2:39 left on the clock when Springfield’s backup fullback Mike Dougherty plowed into the end zone to set the final score at 54-6, but the decision felt certain much earlier.
The Millers racked up nine personal five penalties and 14 penalties in total. A couple of the bigger hits riled up the Willamette sidelines as the Springfield hits kept coming.
“The win means we’re 1-0 in league, that’s really all it means,” Springfield head coach Dave Heuberger said. “We’ve got another game next week, but it’s good to see us score a lot of points with that amount of penalties.”
Springfield ran out to a lead early when sophomore quarterback Trever Watson kept and scampered his way 30 yards for the first score. Despite two late hits on the Wolverines’ ensuing offensive possession, Springfield forced a punt and, on the very next play, Watson lobbed a good ball over the middle to wideout Taylor Travess. Travess outran the entire Wolverine defense to score an 80-yard catch-and-go touchdown that put them up 13-0.
Willamette QB Kosey Mitchell marched his troops down after that and got his team on the board with a 20 yard strike to tight end Donnie York. It was 13-6 and the Wolverines still had a shot, but it was all Millers after that point. Travess tacked on a 16-yard dash with 10 minutes in the second half and the Springfield defense held strong on two consecutive goal-line stands that kept the Wolverines out of the end zone.
“It’ll take the momentum and the hope if the players allow it to… Each one took a big chunk away from us,” Willamette head coach Adam Kennybrew said.
Heuberger agreed that the plays near the end zone gave his players a large amount of momentum.
“Giving the ball to them a couple times down there, and then stopping them,” he said, “that’s a big motivational lift.
Watson got the ball back with less than three minutes until the half and it took him three plays to drive 92 yards and pitch a 27-yard touchdown strike. Willamette got within the red zone one more time, but was late with the spike and the first-half clock went to zero.
It was 27-6 at the half, and Springfield scored four more times.
The Millers dominated the rushing game and the final box score showed it. Travess added one more rushing touchdown in the second half and Springfield had three more ground scores in the last two frames. And their defense was able to load the box more when Mitchell’s passes started hitting the ground.
Senior Jordan Haas was huge in stuffing the Wolverine attack and stifling movement in the red zone. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound nose tackle made a huge contribution and the second-half drives by Willamette were filled with drops and overthrows.
“I think that sometimes we feel pressure or that things are breaking down and that we have to force something to happen as opposed to trusting the system,” Kennybrew said about his junior quarterback. “I just reminded him to be discipled and work through our own progressions.”
Springfield returns home to play Eagle Point next Friday.
“We don’t take a game-by-game approach. We gotta make sure we’re progressing offensively and defensively. We need to be able to run the ball and be able to throw the ball,” Heuberger said.
The Springfield Millers were on the wrong end of 14 penalties including an unbelievable nine personal fouls in a 54-6 blowout win over the Willamette Wolverines on Friday night. The penalties totaled over 150 yards and Springfield felt that they weren’t a fair representation of the players’ intensity.
[gn_quote style=”1″]”I tell them to keep playing football, those hits, their heads are up, knee to knee just like we teach them. I don’t know what the deal was tonight,” Springfield head coach Dave Heuberger said when asked what message he’d send to his players.[/gn_quote]
When asked if the Millers would take the nine personal fouls into consideration for next week, Heuberger’s message was pretty clear.
[gn_quote style=”1″]”No, we don’t practice them to tackle illegally. We haven’t had those penalties the last two weeks, so I’m not sure where that came from.”[/gn_quote]
Also in his defense was Wolverines head coach Adam Kennybrew who is in his first season as the team’s head coach.
[gn_quote style=”1″]”I think they were on fire is what it is,” Kennybrew said. “They came out completely on fire, ready to go. And our players – we didn’t match their intensity. And that was from the opening gate.”[/gn_quote]
The Springfield Miller’s football team may have stuttered in losing its first game of the season, but in week two the Millers re-cooperated nicely with a 64-point game and 44-point margin of victory. Today, Springfield heads to Willamette for a Midwestern League match-up, the first for both teams. And while the 64-20 win over Corvallis last week helped, Millers head coach Dave Heuberger has visions of more for his team, which is ranked No. 10 in OregonLive.com Class 5A Poll.
Who can blame him? The Millers enjoyed a revival on the football field last year with the school’s first playoff appearance since 1996, and its first playoff win since 1957. Springfield lost in the Class 5A quarterfinals last season to the eventual state champion and returns five starters on offense and defense from that team.
Front and center is sophomore quarterback Trever Watson, who was second-team all-league and started every game last year as a freshman. In the win over Corvallis, Watson threw for 179 yards and ran for 176 while throwing three touchdown passes and a 57-yard TD run. “Our quarterback is a very special talent,” Heuberger said. “We have to figure out how to stop the run and help him out a bit (on defense).”
Watson has three returning offensive linemen to provide hardy protection in all-league seniors Jordon Haas (6-foot-5, 290-pounds) and Hunter Hastings (6-4, 240), and senior guard Noel Cortes (5-7, 200). These three lead the way for a running game that includes five to six different ball carriers, Heuberger said. Among those the Millers want to get the ball to are senior receiver Taylor Travess, who finished last week’s game with two rushing touchdowns and one TD reception.
Like Watson last year, Heuberger has another freshman player this season who should make some significant contributions. Running back Nicholas Ah-Sam ran the ball eight times for 70 yards.
Defensively, Travess returns as the leader at safety and the co-defensive player of the year in the league. Others returning on defense are senior defensive end Terrence Benson, junior defensive end Thamadi Price, and senior linebackers Latrell Tinsley (first-team all-league) and Alan Smeltzer.
Tonight, these Millers encounter a Willamette team coached by former Oregon Duck Adam Kennybrew, who is in his first year with the Wolverines. Willamette is 1-1 and returns a number of key offensive players in its up-tempo game, including quarterback Kosey Mitchell.
“That quarterback has improved quite a bit,” Heuberger said. “They spread the field very well, and they are a scary team on film.”
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.
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
— Alex Shoemaker, EDN Sports
Lancers Take The Rematch Against Irish
Last Friday’s game definitely lived up to the hype. As was to be expected, this Churchill-Sheldon rematch shared all the excitement of their buzzer-beater match a month ago. Unlike the last time, however, it was the Lancers celebrating at the end with a 75-73 win over the Irish in overtime.
The 17-7 (14-2) Irish and 20-4 (13-3) Lancers have been the best two teams in the Midwestern League, and their two contests have been decided by a total of three points.
Sheldon came away victorious in the first contest, a 62-61 Dillon Miller deep half-court buzzer-beater, but with the Lancers riding the emotions of the home crowd and would not be denied. The Irish had a final possession where they could have tied the game and forced a second overtime, but it wasn’t to be.
“It was a great defensive stand,” said Churchill guard Aaron Ingram about his game-clinching steal. “I saw the ball and grabbed it. Then I just dribbled out the clock. A great team win.”
Ingram finished the contest with 10 points, with most of his contributions coming on assists and defense.
Churchill extended their lead to 15 in the third quarter, and the game appeared to be all but out of reach. However, a 10-0 run by the Irish to start the fourth quarter decimated the Lancers’ lead and the game was suddenly tied 55-55.
“We don’t pay attention to the scoreboard,” said Churchill head coach Kelly Bokn about the shifts in momentum. “Whether we’re up or down, we keep with our game plan. We lost our lead pretty quickly, and the credit goes to Sheldon. But we were able to keep the game close and come out with a W in OT.”
Churchill was led by David Shedrick who had 18 points, as well as 16 from Emmanuel Morgan. Sheldon was led by the 18 points from point guard Dillon Miller and the 16 points from forward Dale Baker.
With the regular season now finished, both the Irish (6A) and Lancers (5A) can work on preparing for the OSAA playoffs, hopefully bringing a state championship back to Eugene.
The Irish graduate eight players after this season including three starters (Miller, guard Joe Bando, and Baker). Churchill only loses two seniors after this year (Ingram and backup Andrew Tupper).
Both teams have legitimate shots of making a deep run in the playoffs.
“I think we can go far,” said Ingram. “Obviously it’s just one day at a time, one practice at a time. We believe in each other. We can go far. We just need to keep practicing and not slow down.”
The coaching staff shares Ingram’s confidence and wants to make sure the team keeps focused on the task at hand.
“We don’t want to look to far ahead of ourselves,” said Bokn. “One game at a time. Anything can happen in any game. We don’t want to be caught off guard. There are a lot of good teams, and we think we can compete with the best.”
Around The Rest Of The League:
Marist Spartans: 13-10
The Spartans have finished their up-and-down season with maybe their most frustrating loss of the season. They lost three of their last four games and suffered a 45-26 blowout loss at Thurston in the finale.
North Eugene Highlanders: 9-14
North’s season is officially over, and the can rest their hats on a nice 59-51 victory over Willamette last Friday. It appeared the Highlanders would push for a playoff spot, but a 3-8 finish to the season put a damper on that.
South Eugene Axemen: 4-20
South’s horrific season is finally over. A 1-5 record over their past six games was actually an improvement on average for the season as a whole. The Axemen fell 81-47 last Friday in their season finale at Grant.
Willamette Wolverines: 8-16
The theme of the Wolverines’ season has been playing where you’re comfortable makes all the difference. Their home record of 4-6 is respectable, while their road record of 2-9 killed their postseason chances. With a young roster, the Wolverines can look to next year.
Miller finished the game with 23 points, and contributed in all facets of the game.At his vital point guard position, essentially deciding the tempo of the entire offense, Miller has been instrumental in the huge surge of the Irish this season.Head coach Ron Lampe is very happy with the play of his senior captain.“Miller has been great,” said Lampe after the game. “He does everything I ask and more. He’s a great team player and we’re lucky to have him.”
The game was close through a quarter and a half when senior guard Sean Bellotti came up with a big block that completely changed the momentum of the game. Bellotti, son of former Oregon head football coach Mike Bellotti, has been a great contributor coming off of the bench.
For the Spartans, their 12-8 record has them in the 5A tournament, but not at a very high seed. With two games this week against Marshfield (Friday) and Willamette (Tuesday), Marist could make a serious push with two likely victories.
Around the Rest of the League:
Churchill bounced back from a disappointing loss to Marshfield and swept their next three games in blowout fashion (margin of 30 points per game). They cruised to winsover Willamette, Thurston, and Marist. The 17-4 Lancers are playoff bound and can rest for the next two weeks before the playoffs. Churchill ranks No. 3 in 5A, and will play North Eugene and Springfield this week.North Eugene Highlanders:
This was another bad week for South as they lost all three of their games. Their 3-18 record and weak strength of schedule has them ranked 38th out of 43 teams in the 6A league.The Axemen will face Springfield and Sheldon this week, and they would do well to win one more game this season for momentum going into the 2012-13 campaign.Willamette Wolverines:
The 8-13 Wolverines are in a similar position as North Eugene. Willamette ranks a disappointing 26th in the 5A rankings, due to their poor OWP (opponent winning percentage).After an 86-41 blowout loss to Churchill on Thursday, the Wolverines bounced back with a much needed win over Marshfield. The Wolverines play at Thurston on Friday and at Marist on Tuesday. They need to win both for playoff hopes and overall pride.Prep Game Of The Week:EDN will be live-blogging again. This time, we’ll be at Sheldon on Friday night, when the Irish face the visting Grant Generals. The game is a potential playoff preview of sorts, so stop by the website around 7pm to catch all the action.
— Alex Shoemaker, EDN
Game Of The Week: Sheldon Vs. Willamette
Irish point guard Connor Strahm was highly instrumental in the win, forcing numerous steals and pushing the ball in fast break situations.
“I was feeling it tonight,” said Strahm. “It was a great team effort. We’re playing really good basketball right now and I like the way we’re playing. This team is well rounded and we work off of each other.”Senior captain Dillon Miller also had a big game, leading the Irish in assists.
Sheldon uses an effective fast-pace offense that has the ability to wear down teams late in contests, as was the case against Willamette. With four of the five Irish starters also playing significant roles on the football team, conditioning is part of their identity.
“We’re fast down the court,” said Strahm. “We can outrun teams and play that way all game long. We don’t tire out. Coach Lampe has us ready to play each game.”
Willamette looked depleted in the second half, losing costly possessions on turnovers or miscommunication. The Wolverines held onto the ball too long on consecutive series in the third quarter, leading to forced shots at the buzzer. “Our defense won us the game,” said Lampe. “We weren’t shooting well in the first half, but stepped it up in the second.”
Sheldon also took care of business on Tuesday night, defeating the Thurston Colts 50-37 at home. The Irish are in fantastic shape to close out the season in the next six games. A deep playoff run seems to be in the works. Their next game is this Thursday at Marist.
As for Willamette, their season has just about run its course. With five games remaining, the Wolverines can hope to close things out on a positive note, and begin working on next year. Their next game is at Churchill on Thursday.One More Note On Sheldon At Marist
The Sheldon/Willamette contest has been selected as EDN’s Prep Game Of The Week. Head over to our website at 7pm on Thursday, and catch all the action on the live blog. Should be a good time.Around the League
The Lancers only had one game this week, a 70-63 loss at Marshfield on Tuesday. The setback brought their record to 14-4. Churchill has lost two of its last three games, and have not had the same look they had earlier in the season.The Lancers will make the postseason, but going in with positive momentum is crucial. Their next game is Thursday night when they host the Willamette Wolverines.
Marist’s week was a perfect representation of their season as a whole. The Spartans lost a 62-48 game at home against an inferior North Eugene squad on Friday night. On Tuesday, however, they bounced back with a big 87-58 win over Springfield.
This team is nearly impossible to figure out, and looks different each time they take the court. Marist may have the toughest week of their season coming up.
They start their stretch on Thursday hosting Sheldon. Two nights later, the Spartans will visit South Eugene. Marist returns home against Churchill this coming Tuesday. The goal should be to win at least two of those three games.
North Eugene Highlanders:
The Highlanders only played one game this week and made it count. They shocked the world with a 62-48 blowout upset over Marist. Their next game is on Thursday at Springfield.
South Eugene Axemen:
Normally winning one of two games in a week isn’t something to cheer about. But for the 3-15 South Eugene Axemen, it is a cause for celebration. After a 67-50 blowout loss at Marshfield on Thursday, the Axemen bounced back with a 39-35 win over Willamette at home.
The win marked South’s first home win of the season, giving the fans something to take from the season. They do have a busy week ahead with there games upcoming, the first of which is a 7pm tip off against Thurston on Thursday.