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Football frenzy – Foxes, Trojans getting ready for openers

The Foxes lost tons of contributors from a 12-1 2021 squad that took home the school’s first state title since 1991. But the program, which has made the playoffs every year since 2011 (minus the COVID year), boasted a 25-2-1 record for its 3 teams a year ago and new coach Dan Lever clearly has a lot of talent to work with.

Three-year starting quarterback Jordan McCarty is gone, but Lever has two seniors, Carson Waples and Zachery Gubbels, and a sophomore, Sawyer Teeney, working to fill the spot.

“I like all our quarterbacks and I expect big things from all them,” Lever said.

Standout wide receivers Austin Ratliff and Vandon Fessler also graduated, but Lever is high on juniors Cohen Mulick and Elijah Howard. The running back position is stacked with returnees Alejandro Briseno, Jackson Pfeifer and Steven Powell, while veterans Sam Clements and Sam Schaffers return in the trenches.

“We’re just focused on our process right now,” said Lever, who added that “there is a lot of young talent in the program and many of them might see the field on Friday.”

Silverton opens Friday, Sept. 2 at Dallas in a Mid-Willamette Conference game. The Foxes were 7-0 in league a year ago, and except for a 28-21 win against perennial threat West Albany, Silverton raced through the other 6 league foes by a 220-31 score.

“Our mindset is that we are not going to be hunted, we are going to hunt,” Lever said. “My coaching style is that we are always the underdogs and always have something to prove.”

Dallas was 6-3 a year ago, losing to West Albany in the 5A quarterfinals after upsetting Pendleton on the road in the first round. Dallas has not defeated Silverton since 2016, although the two teams did not play in the COVID-shortened 2021 spring season. The Foxes won 42-7 last fall in a game also played at Dallas.

Kennedy: The Trojans, who came within 10 points of a Class 2A title last fall, are moving up a division for the 2022 campaign. Kennedy is one of just two Class 2A teams that chose to “play up” at Class 3A because 2A is changing to nine-man football.

“The kids are excited about it,” said coach Joe Panuke, in his eighth year as the head coach and his 15th season overall. “They wanted to play 11-man. It was unanimous. Not one of my coaches and not one of my seniors… all of them wanted to play up.”

Playing up puts the Trojans in Special District 2 with 3A teams Amity, Dayton, Jefferson, Santiam Christian and Scio as well as 2A Salem Academy and 4A Newport. On Sept. 2, Kennedy goes against 2A Stanfield, then visits defending Class 3A champion Siuslaw of Florence on Sept. 9.

Kennedy will sorely miss QB-DB Riley Cantu. But only five other seniors were on the 2021 roster. Panuke has Elijah Traeger and Andrew Cuff on hand to battle for Cantu’s quarterback slot and he has other playmakers on both sides of the ball, including Owen Bruner, Ethan Kleinschmit, Matt Hopkins and Briggs Snell.

Stanfield, the Trojans’ foe in Friday’s opener, was 4-4 a year ago but was tough on defense, only giving up 85 points in those eight games. Stanfield will be playing nine-man in its league games in Special District 5 but will play 11-man against Kennedy. Stanfield last faced the Trojans in the 2016 2A semifinals, with the Tigers downing JFK 32-13 at Liberty High in Hillsboro. 

Got a news tip? Email me at [email protected]. 

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