Gridiron season opens: New faces in high school athletic programs

September, 2018 Posted in School, Sports & Recreation

James DayThe fall high school sports season is underway, with the first football games taking place Friday, Aug. 31 and teams in cross country, soccer and volleyball are also getting started.

Here is a look at the football prospects and “what’s new” for the fall from Santiam Canyon-area schools:


Tim Ganfield, who coached softball for 14 years for the Cougars, is the new athletic director. Ganfield, who is in his 20th year at Cascade, replaces Heidi Hermansen, who left to become the principal at Central Linn in Halsey.

“Right now my goal is to just learn all the systems and help the coaches be able to do their job,” Ganfield told Our Town.

Cascade also is bringing back youth sports and parents and athletes can view the offerings at

On the gridiron, fourth-year coach Brandon Bennett has 18 players back who started at least five games in 2017. Bennett, a former standout offensive lineman at Willamette University, has lots of beef in the trenches, including two-way star Macoy Christman, Trystin Teal and Jacob Schultz. Kyle McAlister moves from the line to linebacker and “brings an excitement/do it the right way mentality,” Bennett told Our Town.

Elijah Nolan moves from wide receiver to quarterback, with Jake Whisman and Devon Privratsky set for the ball-carrying and pass-catching roles.

“Our toughest opponent will be Cascade,” said Bennett, whose squad tied with North Marion for last year’s Oregon West Conference title. “We know we have the pieces to be great. It is the coaches’ and the kids’ jobs to demonstrate that on game day.”


The Eagles have a new girls soccer coach, Devin Holmes, and Michelle Vollmuller and Jacalyn Reddy are set to run the cheer program. A new baseball hitting facility has been added, with plans for a similar softball facility in the works.

Redistricting presented Stayton – and other squads in the Oregon West – with kind of a skewed format this season. Woodburn will play football in a six-team Special District 2 but joins the seven-school Oregon West for all other sports, which “creates some challenges incorporating byes in the schedule,” said Eagles athletic director Darren Shryock.

In addition to the Woodburn change, North Marion and Yamhill-Carlton have left the district and were replaced by Sisters and Sweet Home.

Randy Nyquist is in his second year leading Stayton football. The Eagles finished 4-5 overall and 3-2 in the Oregon West a year ago.


Clint Forste is the new athletic director, replacing David Plotts, who ran the sports programs from his principal slot before retiring at the end of the last
school year.

Carl Rupp, the defensive coordinator for last year’s Wolverines squad which finished 11-2 and advanced to the Class 2A championship game before falling to Monroe/Triangle Lake 36-22, takes over as head coach. Rupp replaces Dustin McGee, who took a position in Tennessee after leading Santiam for three campaigns.

Rupp will be counting on veterans Trevor Whitmire, Dustin Keys, Connor Forste, Quinten Cook and Colin Thurston to lead the way. Adding depth will be 6-2, 260-pound lineman Garret Wallen, a transfer from Scio, and skillful sophomore Gabe Lanham.

Santiam will be playing in Special District 2, with only Kennedy carrying over from its Tri-River Conference opponents. Also in the league are Chemawa, Colton, Culver, Gervais and Sheridan.

“I expect the top of our league to be highly competitive,” Rupp told Our Town, “but we believe we’re squarely in the mix.”


The Rams won the Class 2A title in 2016 but lost a lot of veterans from that squad and were just 1-8 a year ago. Coach Kyle McGrath will be counting on five seniors, quarterback Kirkland Scott, wide receiver Zach Morey, linemen Wyatt Koenig and Jonathan Webb and defensive back Glavin King to lead the way.

McGrath has nine starters returning on offense and eight on defense from the young team of a year ago, with some promising freshmen and Blanchet transfer Bryce Campbell also ready to contribute.

Regis will play in Special District 3 along with Tri-River holdover Central Linn and newcomers Creswell, Jefferson, defending 2A champion Monroe and Oakland.

“I think the Rams are in the toughest conference in 2A, again,” McGrath said. “It will be a tough task, but our goal is to take the league. Our kids are also excited about the new challenges and the new places to travel to.”

Follow me on @jameshday.
Got a news tip? Email me at

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.