Local prep stars ready to tackle next level
Prep Watch • Aluesi looks at new spot; Baker competes for role with Ducks
High school football officially ended for 11 top Portland-area seniors at the annual Les Schwab Bowl in late June.
If you're only as good as your last game, those players are pretty good -their North team rallied from a 24-point halftime deficit to defeat the South 42-38.
That is all in the past, though. Now, it's time for those players to look ahead to the future glory of the college gridiron.
• When watching Noa Aluesi of Jefferson High play quarterback and linebacker last season, the first thing that came to mind was the word 'athlete.' Oregon State agreed about the 6-7, 255 pounder. The Beavers offered him a scholarship, though they knew Aluesi would miss two years while he went on his Mormon mission.
Aluesi plans on getting his grayshirt college season out of the way this year. The PIL's co-defensive player of the year says he will probably try playing tight end for the Beavers.
'I kind of like tight end,' he says. 'Get to block, get to run a little, get the ball sometimes.'
• Jefferson offensive and defensive lineman Alex Mitchell got looks from smaller football schools such as Idaho and Portland State. But Mitchell wanted something more.
'D-1 or no one, that's how I felt,' Mitchell says.
And so, next season, the 6-3, 290-pounder will play.
'I know offense better; I can pick it up faster.'
Mitchell, who was co-defensive player of the year in the PIL, is looking forward to using his redshirt freshman season to become an even better athlete.
'I know I'm not going to play this year,' Mitchell says. 'But I'm looking forward to getting bigger, stronger, faster, all of that. I feel like I can get college built. There's so much potential for me, they say, and I feel like that too.'
• Demos linebacker and fullback Hemasi Mohulamu was all-league in the PIL and second-team Class 5A all-state last season. The 5-9, 230-pounder will attend Western Oregon on a partial scholarship for football. He also plans to play on the WOU rugby team.
'It's a good program,' Mohulamu says, of the Wolves in football. 'The GPA (requirement) is pretty low, so people that don't have the grades (for some other schools) can go there and play.'
• Lincoln High quarterback Peter Williams was named the Schwab Bowl MVP after he passed for three touchdowns and ran for another in the North's huge comeback.
Williams, 6-3 and 185 pounds, was the PIL offensive player of the year in 2010. He is headed to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he will play both football and lacrosse.
'The football coach said tons of people (play both sports) there,' Williams says. 'It's going to be a great opportunity to get out there and play another sport in the spring and just have fun.'
• One of Williams' favorite targets in the All-Star game and throughout the season was 6-5, 205-pound receiver Drake Whitehurst. After being named all-PIL and honorable mention all-state, Whitehurst is playing for City College of San Francisco. He hopes that his performance there will enable him to go on and play football at a four-year school.
'I'll play there for a year or two and hopefully get a look from a bigger school, a D-I school,' Whitehurst says. 'The athletes (at City College of San Francisco) are good -and if you want to be with the best, you've got to play with the best. You get seen like that. There's so many great players down there, and the coaches are great people and know what they're doing.'
• Defensive end and outside linebacker Max Jackson from Grant High was a two-time all-PIL selection. He was looking at Western Oregon and Foothill College in Los Altos Calif., and wound up in Monmouth with WOU. He'll have to work his way into a spot in the Wolves' plans and rotation.
'I have a good work ethic,' he says. 'I'll work hard anywhere I go.'
• David Douglas running back Antwan Baker was the Mt. Hood Conference offensive player of the year last season. And you can say this about the 5-7, 170- pound back: he does not set the bar too low. Baker has chosen to walk on at the University of Oregon, a team that is favored to win the Pac-12 championship and is loaded with talented scholarship running backs.
'They do have good athletes,' Baker says. 'I'm just ready to compete. I'm ready to do whatever I can. I work hard. I work as hard as anybody else on the field. And I can earn a spot on that field.'
Whatever happens on the field, going to Oregon is about more than football for Baker.
'It is bigger than football,' he says. 'I'm the first one to go to a D-I college in my family. I just want to be a Duck, to tell you the truth.'
• A large part of Baker's high school success was the blocking of David Douglas lineman Dylan Sounders. The 6-4, 285-pounder was all-league in the Mt. Hood Conference. Next season, he will be on the Park Blocks, playing for Portland State.
'They're turning the program around, and I can be a part of that and help,' Sounders says. 'I work hard. I'll redshirt this year, and next year I'll be able to compete for a spot.'
• Inside linebacker and defensive end Luke Vanoudenhaegen, out of Central Catholic High, was a second-team all-MHC defensive selection in 2009 and 2010. Vanoudenhaegen will play football and possibly baseball at the College of the Siskiyous in Northern California. The 6-3, 245-pounder says he chose junior college because he wants the opportunity to one day play football at a four-year school.
'I feel like I'm good enough to go to the next level,' he says. 'And that's what I'm going to hopefully go down there and prove.'
• Central Catholic's Evan Gannicott was an honorable mention MHC choice last season. He will play his college football at Puget Sound. The 6-3, 240-pound offensive lineman hopes to excel both on the field and in the classroom.
'My goals there are to not only be able to get a great education, but to continue playing football, get better and just become a better person,' Gannicott says. 'They have a good academic tradition, they have lots of classes that I'm interested in, and they have a football team that is heading in the right direction. They've got a lot of new coaches and are improving a lot. I wanted to be a part of that.'
• Former Rams wide receiver Greg Heath, all-MHC in 2010, signed to play football, and maybe basketball, at Southern Oregon.
Heath made the decision after taking a visit to Ashland. He liked the Southern Oregon coaches and the quaint, small-town atmosphere.
'I was talking to a couple different schools, and I went down to visit Southern and I liked it a lot. It seems like a fun place to be,' Heath says. 'They have a good coaching staff. I'm planning on starting. I'm just going to show what I've got.'