Sports Zone

Fall Sports Preview: Football Capsules

Head coach: Steve Turner, 1st year, 121-89 overall
2022 season: 0-9, ranked #32, missed playoffs
State championships: 1 (2017)
School colors: Dark Blue and Gold
Sept. 1 at Pleasant Hill (non-league) 7 p.m. (By car: 1.2 miles, 24 min)
Sept. 8 vs. Elmira (non-league) 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 vs. Philomath 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 vs. Sweet Home 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 at Cascade 7 p.m. (By car: 8.3 miles, 1 hr 19 min)
Oct. 6 vs. Marist 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 at Stayton 7 p.m. (By car: 82 miles, 1 hr 23 min)
Oct. 20 at Junction City 7 p.m. (By car: 38.9 miles, 46 min)
Oct. 27 vs. Hidden Valley (non-league)* 7 p.m.
* Senior Night
Top returners
■ Gavin Grogan, junior, QB, #3
■ Clayton Dewitt, junior, RB/DE, #24
■ Alec Ellingsworth, senior, DB/WR, #11
Top opponents
■ Oct. 06: vs. Marist
■ Oct. 12: at Stayton
■ Oct. 20: at Junction City
Pierre’s take
■ New head coach Steve Turner takes over a program that is 7-30 since winning the state title in 2017, including a winless season last year. Turner is also the third coach in five years for CGHS. While the Lions will likely struggle in league play, a new head coach and an easier non-league schedule could lead to victories this year. Either way, this season is about Turner putting his stamp on the program.

Head coach: Scott Worsham, 7th year, 18-31 overall
2022 season: 5-4, ranked #18, missed playoffs
School colors: Red and white
Sept. 1 vs. Taft (non-league) 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 vs. Santiam Christian (non-league) 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Warrenton (non-league) 7 p.m. (By car: 201 miles, 3 hrs 24 min)
Sept. 22 at Elmira 7 p.m. (By car: 32.4 miles, 41 min)
Sept. 29 at Siuslaw 7 p.m. (By car: 80 miles, 1 hr 33 min)
Oct. 6 vs. Sisters 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 at Harrisburg 7 p.m. (By car: 32.8 miles, 36 min)
Oct. 20 vs. Pleasant Hill 7 p.m.
Oct. 27 vs. La Pine (Senior Night) 7 p.m.
Top returners
Tyler Bowers, senior, WR/S, #1, 2022 1st Team All-League WR/Ret, 19 REC, 339 YDS, 3 TD,
Cayden Cox, senior, OL/DL, #71, 2022 1st Team All-League OL/DL 
Jaydon Warthen, senior, WR/DB, #5, 2022 11 REC, 139 YD, 1 TD
Notable newcomer
Darien Dewey, junior, QB. Worsham says: “Looking for a big year out of Dewey. He has a great arm, great football savvy and is our most committed guy.”
Returning starters:  5 on offense; 5 on defense
Team strengths
■ Speed
■ In great shape
■ Hard workers
Top opponents
■ Sept. 08: vs. Santiam Christian
■ Sept. 29: at Siuslaw
■ Oct. 06: Homecoming vs. Sisters
■ Oct. 20: Senior night vs. Pleasant Hill
Pierre’s take
■ Creswell enters the season looking to replace the majority of its impact players from last year. 

Head coach: Jeremiah Heacock, 2nd year, 3-6 overall
2022 season: 3-6, ranked #24, missed playoffs
School colors: Navy Blue and Gold
Sept. 1 vs. Cottage Grove (non-league) 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Salem Academy (non-league) 8 p.m. (By car: 74.3 miles, 1 hour, 7 minutes)
Sept. 15 vs. Harrisburg 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 vs. North Marion (non-league) 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 vs. Elmira 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 at La Pine 7 p.m. (By car: 97.6 miles, 1 hour, 52 minutes)
Oct. 13 vs. Sisters (Senior Night) 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 at Creswell 7 p.m. (By car: 10.9 miles, 17 minutes)
Oct. 27 at Siuslaw 7 p.m. (By car: 79.2 miles, 1 hour, 32 minutes)
Top returners
Braedon Hazel, senior, ’22 2nd Team All-League LB
Jacob Neely, sophomore, ’22 2nd Team All-League DB
Kaden Howes, junior, ’22 Honorable Mention All-League DB
Top opponents
■ La Pine: Oct. 6 (away)
■ Suislaw: Oct. 27 (away)
■ Creswell: Oct. 20 (away)
Pierre’s take
■ Head coach Jeremiah Heacock should be looking for a jump in his program in year two. The 3-6 season last year helped set the foundation as the Billies didn’t win a game the year before Heacock arrived. The defense should be solid with some all-league returners, but the offense will need to revamp after struggling to score much once league play started in 2022.

Head coach: Frank Geske, 1st year, 248-124 overall
2022 season: 6-4, ranked #10, lost in 1st round to #7 Silverton
School colors: Blue and White
Sept. 1 at Ridgeview (non-league) 7 p.m. (By car: 123 miles, 2 hrs 21 min)
Sept. 8 vs. Marist (non-league) 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Crater 7 p.m. (By car: 161 miles, 2 hrs 33 min)
Sept. 22 vs. South Eugene 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 vs. Thurston 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 at Churchill 7 p.m. (By car: 9 miles, 18 min)
Oct. 13 vs. Willamette 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 at North Eugene 7 p.m. (By car: 8 miles, 13 min)
Oct. 27 vs. Eagle Point (Senior Night) 7 p.m.
Returning starters
■ 36 varsity players: 7 on offense and 6 on defense.
Top returners
Nate Williams, senior, OT/DT, 6-foot-3,  280 lbs., #77: Coach says: “Physical player with a very high ceiling.”
Connor Dye, senior, RB, 5-foot-9, 165 lbs., #21, 2022 honorable mention all-state RB: Coach: “A true ‘player’ … loves the game.”
Caeleb Kasperek, senior, QB/LB, 6-foot-3, 215 lbs., #12, all-conference, 2022 QB stats: 1,636 yards, 18 TDs
Notable newcomer
Sam Keen, senior, OL/DL, 6-foot-3, 285 lbs., #76, 2022 1st-team all-state OL: Coach: “Outstanding leader. Transferred from Marist.”
Other players to note
Jackson Babbitt, senior, 6-foot, WR/DB, 2022 honorable mention all-state DB Coach: “Good speed, great smarts and ‘want to’.” 
Zack Sherman, senior, 6-foot-1, WR/DB, P/K. Coach: “Big skill set; our slash player”
Isaiah Navarete, senior, 6-foot-2, LB. Coach: “Packs a mean punch and has great hands.”
Cody Henshen, senior, 6-foot-3, OL/DL. Returning starter.
Ryan Lucart, senior, 5-foot-10, OL/DL. Returning starter.
Jayden Kittrell, senior, 6-foot-2, TE/LB. Returning starter.
Jaevon Spencer, junior, 6-foot-1, WR/DB. Coach: “Will start one or two ways.”
Alex King, senior, 5-foot-8, WR/DB. Coach: “Will start.”
Team strengths
■ Selflessness
■ Work ethic
■ Attitude 
Top opponents
■ Thurston: Sept. 29 (home)
■ Ridgeview: Sept. 1 (away)
■ Crater: Sept. 15 (away) 
■ Homecoming/Senior Night: Oct. 27 vs. Eagle Point
Pierre’s take
■The Millers became the talk of the state when they hired head coach Frank Geske this summer. Geske is one of the most successful coaches in the state over the past 35 years, winning two state championship rings in his career. Coupled with Springfield’s stacked class of 2024 and a home game against rival Thurston, it wouldn’t be suprising if SHS grabs the Midwestern League title for the first time since 2014.

Head coach: Justin Starck, 21st year, 132-78 overall
School colors: Red and Black
2022 season: 9-3, ranked #4, won league, lost in semifinals to #1 Summit
State championships: 2 (2018, ’19)
Boosters: N/A
Sept. 1 at Wilsonville (non-league) 7 p.m. (By car: 97.9 miles, 1 hr 27 min)
Sept. 8 vs. Summit (non-league) 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 vs. North Eugene 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Crater 7 p.m. (By car: 168 miles, 2 hrs 36 min)
Sept. 29 at Springfield 7 p.m. (By car: 5.7 miles, 10 min)
Oct. 6 vs. Eagle Point 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 vs. South Eugene 7 p.m.
Oct. 20 at Willamette 7 p.m. (By car: 15.7 miles, 19 min)
Oct. 27 at Churchill 7 p.m. (By car: 13.8 miles, 22 min)
Total returners (5 on offense; 3 on defense)
Top returners
Luke Newell, senior, TE, 6-foot-3, 200 lbs., #88, 2022 1st Team All-State
Walker Bonar, senior, WR, 6-foot-2, 180 lbs., #16, 2022 Honorable Mention All-State 
Noah Blair, junior, QB, 6-foot-2, 175 lbs., #9, 2022 1560 yards 22 TDs 4 INTs
Top opponents
■ Wilsonville: Sept. 1 ( away)
■ Summit: Sept. 8 (home)
■ Springfield: Sept. 29 (away)
Pierre’s take
■ After making it to the semifinals last year, Thurston has to revamp quickly once again after losing 16 seniors. Somehow, coach Justin Starck and the Colts always find a way though as they are on a streak of five straight league titles, including dominance last season. Last year’s team went undefeated in league play, winning those seven games by a combined 191 points. So while rival Springfield has got all the offseason headlines, Thurston is still top dog in the Midwestern League until someone else proves a worthy successor. 



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