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Southridge stacked with returners, ability

by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Southridge wide receiver Jordan Morgan leads a Southridge offense thats senior-heavy and experienced at key positions.

Southridge- the defending outright rulers of the Metro- have all the ingredients to not just guard their league crown but go for the golden jewel-the 6A state championship.

A mammoth, knowledgeable offensive line? Check.

Turbo-charged, big-play producers who can score from anywhere on the field? Check.

An experienced quarterback? Southridge has that too, to accompany a fearless defense.

On the surface the Skyhawks seem ready to soar to JELD-WEN Field and claim a state banner.

Still, Southridge doesn’t want to be state champs on Aug. 31. They want to be the last team standing on Dec. 7, the day of the 6A title bout.

“The thing to understand is you don’t win games on paper,” said second-year head coach Doug Dean. “We might be stronger at the start or we might not. That’s why we really need a game under our belts to find out where we’re at and what we need to improve. We have a better sense of what our kids are capable of because we were a brand new staff last year.”

Defense

Junior 6’1”, 180-pound Andrew Ripley-Miles was third-team all-league defensive back last season. Maleke Nathman-Valentino, Derek Parnell, Jared Baskin, and Isaiah Rio will see playing time at cornerback. Senior Logan Sackley was moved from outside linebacker to strong safety and Jacob Gomez is starting at free safety.

Senior linebackers Mike Varadi and Pepe Tanuvasa started last year. Outside linebackers Daniel Rico and Michael Sparks are a little more inexperienced as juniors but Dean said they’ve improved tremendously from the start of the summer. Defensive tackle Willie Eteaki is a monster at 330 pounds who started at Southridge as a freshman, moved out of the area but is back in Beaverton.

“It’s nice to have a guy who by girth can take up two gaps,” said Dean. “Right now he’s working himself into shape and we’ve told him if he gets into great condition he can be legit. He’s got great feet, size and strength. We’re real excited about his potential.”

The tall and swift Jordan Taula’I will start at left defensive end. Tyler Saunders and Daniel Tanabe are battling for the right defensive end spot.

Offense

Southridge’s talent and ability on offense is akin to Jesuit’s curt clique of defenders on the other side of the rock. Starting with the smooth-moving, gummy-fingered wide receiver Jordan Morgan who committed to the University of Arizona this summer, the Skyhawks are well-heeled in the playmaking department. The 6’2” Morgan was first-team all-league and second-team all-state last season despite catching passes from three different quarterbacks.

“We have kids on the perimeter who have a lot of game experience and they’ve been fire tested,” said Dean. “That should equate to some better execution, especially earlier in the year. I’m biased, but I think they’re some of the best athletes in the state.”

This year Morgan has a stable signal caller in senior A.J. Woodin who started seven games last year and helped lead a 26-21 come-from-behind win against Jesuit.

“He’s improved an awful lot since last year,” said Dean. “But, now the proof is in his performance on Friday nights. He’s earned the starting spot and now it’s his time to go shine and lead this team. It’s his team.”

Junior 6’2” 220-pound left guard Jeremiah Everett, senior running back Jacob Pruit, and senior place kicker Alex Beekman were all second-team all-league nods. Senior 6’4”, 220-pound right guard Tyler Cox returns with a third-team selection under his belt after a standout junior season. Running back Devin Martinez was also third-team as a junior. He and Pruit form a united one-two punch in the backfield that few Metro teams can match. Ironically, the 5’8” Martinez is more of power runner while the 6’3” Pruit is shifty and likes to make guys miss in the open field.

“They’ve done a phenomenal job of supporting each other and we view both of them as starters,” said Dean. “One guy will hit you in the mouth and the other guy’s trying to miss you.”

If you’re counting at home, that’s six all-league returners, just on offense alone, the most in the Metro.

Everett, Cox, right tackle Walker Lukens, center Jim Weber, and left tackle Nick Stahl all started at some point along the line of scrimmage last year.

“In my opinion, you win and lose games at the line of scrimmage,” said Dean. “We’re way ahead in terms of what we have inserted in our playbook. We’re more experienced this year and that’s a big difference.”




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