Sports: Football preview

September 2016 Posted in School, Sports

James DayBy James Day

It’s a new season for the Silverton High School football team. New turf has been installed at McGinnis Field and the squad is trying to put last year’s 5-5 season in the rearview mirror.

“Last year had a lot of twists and turns for us,” seventh-year Coach John Mannion said. “And it gave us a chance to reflect a bit. What can you do better in all areas? We spent a ton of time evaluating all of the things that we do. We’re going to use this as a springboard.”

A .500 campaign is an aberration for Mannion’s crew, which went 33-4 in the previous four seasons, including a Class 5A runner-up finish and two other visits to the state semifinals.

“Everybody’s gunning for you when you set the bar that high,” Mannion said. “But that’s the type of program you want to be. Set the standard high.”

The Foxes were ravaged by injury problems a year ago and broke in a new quarterback in midseason yet still rallied to win their final two Mid-Willamette Conference league games to qualify for the playoffs.

“The league should be balanced; there are a lot of good teams,” Mannion said. “A lot of them legitimately have a chance to win the league and I like to think we are in that group. I like our team.”

Levi Nielsen took over the quarterback position midway through the season as a freshman and Mannion said he has “tons of potential. He’s shown a lot of growth and we’re happy with his progress. The next step is more games. That’s where things will speed up.”

Mannion said that there likely will not be a workhorse running back as the team has had in recent years with Chris Garcia and Sam Kuschnick. Instead, it will be more of a committee approach with Darren Buckley, Perry Davis, Kobe Garcia and track star Austin Haskett, who finished second in the 100 and the 200 at the district championships, carrying the mail. Nielsen will throw to receivers Garcia, Spencer Clements, Sam Morrison and his brother, Eli, who returns at tight end.

On the offensive line and defensive front seven Mannion has Ulysses Salazar, Ben Willis, David Espe, Colin Walker, Eli Nielsen, Buckley, Nick Tokarski and Mauricio Ramirez, who was injured last season.

“Defense will have a lot of guys who played quite a bit last year,” Mannion said. “We’re going to need depth and everybody pretty much will be prepared to play both ways.”

The Foxes open Friday, Sept. 2 at Sandy and debuts on the new turf Sept 9 against visiting Redmond. Silverton opens league play Sept. 16 at Dallas.

At Kennedy, Joe Panuke enters his second year as head coach of the Trojans. Kennedy tied with Central Linn and Regis for the Tri-River Conference title and advanced to the state Class 2A championship game before falling to Heppner. Panuke has 13 seniors on this year’s squad and will be looking to quarterback Brett Traeger, running backs Bishop Mitchell and Damien Guerrero, tight end-linebacker Jack Suing and linemen David Wright, Davi Soto and Jeremy Kliewer to play key roles. Also in the mix are juniors Christian Reyes, Christian Larios and Anthony Garcia.

Kennedy, which finished 10-2 a year ago, is playing its typical nasty schedule. The Trojans open Friday, Sept. 2 at home vs. Class 3A Clatskanie and also plays up a rung Sept. 16 against visiting Harrisburg.

“We always want to be battle-tested by the time we hit league play,” Panuke said. “We haven’t played Harrisburg since I have been at Kennedy. They have been good the past few years.

“Our goal each year is to be in position to win a league title and earn a playoff spot. Central Linn and Regis return some really good football players and St. Paul and Santiam will be a lot better this year. If we play Trojan football and stay healthy we will be right there come the end of the season.”

Kennedy opens Tri-River play Sept 30 at Regis and hosts Central Linn the next week.

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SHS hires new athletic director

Greg Kaatz

Greg Kaatz

Wade Lockett is set to take over as athletic director and vice principal at Silverton High. He will replace Greg Kaatz, who is the new principal at Mark Twain Elementary School.Lockett comes to the Foxes from Sandy High, where he taught social studies, coached football and baseball and advised the mock trial, speech and debate programs as well as the National Honor Society group.He attended Silverton High during his freshman year. Later, he earned a bachelor’s from Whitman College, his master’s from Lewis & Clark and his administrative license from Concordia.

The Oregon Athletic Director’s Association named him the Class 5A athletic director of the year in 2016.

“We are excited to welcome Mr. Lockett and his family to Silverton,” said new principal Justin Lieuallen. “We’re confident he will be an outstanding addition to the community and the leadership team at Silverton High School.”
Lieuallen said Lockett is scheduled to start work after his formal approval by the school board on Sept. 12.

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