Building year? Fox football 7-4 with new coach, new roster

December 2022 Posted in sports

James Day

Last summer Dan Lever took over a Silverton High football program that won the Class 5A title in 2021. Lever, who coached Tualatin to a Class 6A runner-up finish the same season, faced some huge challenges. He essentially had to replace his entire defense. He had some offensive weapons returning – running backs Alejandro Briseno and Jackson Pfeifer and standout linemen Sam Clements and Sam Schaffers.

The 7-4 season Lever and the Foxes turned in this fall has to be viewed as a success worth celebrating. Silverton tied with Central and South Albany for the Mid-Willamette Conference title and advanced to the 5A quarterfinals before falling 39-26 at Wilsonville.

“It was a building year,” Lever said. “We were a couple of plays away from being 5-6 and a couple of plays away from being 8-3.”

This year’s starter, sophomore Sawyer Teeney, looks to be built in the same mold as some of his illustrious Silverton predecessors. He hit 11 of 15 passes for two TDs and also ran for 42 yards. It was a pattern he repeated the rest of the season on the way to being named second-team all-MWC.

“A quarterback like that is a nice thing to have coming back next season,” Lever said. “I’ve never had a sophomore start for me. He could wind up being the best.”

Pfeifer was a revelation after two years in which he had battled foot injuries. He had six TD and five TD games, finding the end zone every which way – rushing, receiving, interceptions and kick returns. He was named offensive player of the year by the league’s coaches.

Other key returnees for Lever are WR-DBs Cohen Mulick and Elijah Howard, linemen Brash Henderson, Xavier Orozco and Eli Willis, linebackers Brody Sullivan and Diego Flores and place-kicker Sawyer Enderle. 

From 2012 until this season the Foxes have advanced to the quarterfinals in all but two years, and one of those years was the COVID-19 year.

“The best part of our program is in front of us,” Lever said. “Our players need to do the work in the weight room and get out and play a second or third sport. The games are the test, but the real meat and potatoes is what you do in the weight room and in the offseason.

“Having a good attitude is essential,” he said. “I’m also very grateful that the school and players accepted me and the new coaches with open hearts. This is a great community that really supports its teams.”

Kennedy, meanwhile, is battling its way through the Class 3A playoffs, which concluded after Our Town’s presstime. We’ll have a full report on the conclusion of the Trojans’ season in my Dec. 15 column. 

Cross Country: A pair of former regional  runners, Haile Stutzman of the Foxes and Kennedy’s Alejandra Lopez, made big splashes at the NAIA national meet in Tallahassee, Florida.

Stutzman, a 2017 Silverton graduate, finished third in his final college race as a senior at Huntington (Indiana), helping lead the Foresters to a tenth-place finish in the team race. Stutzman ran the 8K course at Apalachee Regional Park in 24:05.0, 13.1 seconds off the pace set by champion Abraham Chelangam of Oklahoma City. 

Lopez, who won the 2018 state Class 3A-2A-1A title for Kennedy, took 83rd in the 5K women’s race in 18:43.2. Lopez moved up 93 places during the final 3K and helped her Southern Oregon team take ninth in the team competition.  

Former Foxes runner Jori Paradis had a strong senior season with Concordia of Irvine. Paradis took seventh in the PacWest Conference championships in 21:39.2, helping the Golden Eagles to a third-place team finish. Concordia took 12th in the NCAA Division II West Regional with Paradis taking 24th in 21:47.47.

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