Football teams at work: Foxes new coach hopes to energize squad

October 2017 Posted in Sports

James DayIt was Tuesday, Aug. 7, just the second day of fall drills and new Silverton High football coach Josh Craig already had a mid-season rasp from voicing encouragement to his squad.

“It didn’t take long,” Craig told Our Town as he finished a morning practice and emphasized paperwork issues and schedule times for his players departing to lunch.

Craig has six offensive starters back and seven on defense from the squad that John Mannion led to a 7-3 record. Mannion has moved on to coach a new program at Mountainside High in Beaverton. Craig, 26, retained most of Mannion’s staff, including veteran coaches Craig Rankin, Mike Fessler, John Howard, Matt Craig and Don VonWeller.

Craig said he hopes to bring a “youthful energy” to the program. “We do a lot of the same stuff  but with a different energy … the tempo of practice. What we do hasn’t changed but how we do it has changed.”

Top returnees on offense include junior quarterback Levi Nielsen and senior wide receiver Spencer Clements. Nielsen spent a week this summer at the prestigious NW9 quarterback camp in Kirkland, Wash.

Carrying the ball will be a group that includes Kobe Garcia, Colton Meyer, Eaton Ashwell and Hunter Meissner. The versatile Garcia also will play out wide, return kicks and play defense.

Clements also will see a lot of time in the defensive backfield, while Meissner and Collin Zollinger will work at linebacker. Wrestling stalwart Zach Milstead anchors the defensive line.

The Foxes open at home Sept. 1 against Sandy and travel Sept. 8 to Redmond before starting Mid-Willamette Conference play with a home game against Dallas and a visit to Lebanon. The Warriors downed Dallas in last year’s Class 5A semifinals before beating Wilsonville for the state title.

“The first half of our scheduled is very competitive,” Craig said. “That’s exciting. We want to play good teams.”

Craig said he wants his team to “work hard every day and focus on the moment. Do the things you are supposed to do right now. Football is a lot more fun when you work hard at it.

“We hope to continue our success of making the playoffs every year. John Mannion put together some of the most competitive teams in 5A. I’d like to continue that.”

Kennedy, meanwhile, graduated one of its most glittering senior classes ever, led by Bishop Mitchell, Brett Traeger, Jack Suing and Jeremy Kliewer. The Trojans advanced to the Class 2A semifinals for the second consecutive year.

Fourth-year head coach Joe Panuke returns three offensive starters and four on defense.

“We have a lot of holes to fill with last year’s seniors graduating,” Panuke told Our Town. “But we have a good group of guys that work hard and are excited about getting their shot at playing on Friday night. We should be right in the mix for a league title and a playoff spot again this year. We are looking forward to see what this year’s team is capable of.”

Panuke will be looking to Nick Suing, Daniel Moreno, Christian Reyes, Christian Larios, and Emorej Lynk to provide the leadership on this year’s squad, which opens Sept. 1 at Clatskanie. One to mark on your calendar is Oct. 27 at home vs. Regis, defending 2A state champions.

Homer runs: Approximately 80 runners and walkers took part in the Aug. 6 Homer’s Classic events at Silverton High School. Haile Stuzman, who will be a junior for the Foxes’ cross country team this fall, won the 8-kilometer event in 28:01.2, nearly 45 seconds better than runner-up Daniel Bartosz, 41, of Portland, who ran 28:45.9.

Erin Skourtes of Portland, 36, took third in 31:39.2 and was the first woman finisher, just ahead of last year’s champion Deanna O’Neil, 52, of Canby, who finished in 31:55.1.

J.J. Herrera of Salem ran well among folks twice his size. The 8-year-old finished 16th overall in 39:08.5.

Konrad Seifer of Silverton won the 2-mile in 13:14.9, with Melissa Georgesen of Molalla took third in 14:59.2 and was the first female to finish.

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