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PIL football: Complete team-by-team reports

by: MILES VANCE Lincoln's Spencer Rotenberg attempts to evade the Aloha defense after one of his 10 receptions in last week's season opener.

Here's a rundown on the Portland Interscholastic League's football teams as they head into Friday's second round of the season:

CLASS 6A

Grant Generals

With several key players returning, the Generals should be strong contenders to win their three-team district, which includes Lincoln and Redmond.

The Generals began on a winning note, rallying to beat Westview 34-31 last week at the Beaverton school.

Next for Grant is Friday night's game at Tigard.

Senior Daniel Halverson ran for a score and caught a 74-yard touchdown pass from senior QB Paris Penn in the season opener.

Junior Nate Halvorson, Daniel's brother, also is a key offensive player for Grant, but he missed the opener with an injury and isn't expected back for a few weeks because of a broken left fibula.

'We have some athleticism,' Grant coach Diallo Lewis says. 'We just have to continue to work and come together as a team. I think this group has potential.'

The offensive line is intact from last season, lending even more hope for Grant's ground attack, which helped all-league running back Trevionte Riley last season. Riley has graduated, but blockers such as 6-2, 235-pound senior center Ben Criswell should help keep things clicking for the Generals.

Grant got 121 yards rushing last week from Bryant Peek, who carried 21 times.

And there is Penn, a 6-0, 180-pound dual threat, at the controls. Against Westview, he ran nine times for 55 yards and a touchdown and hit on 8 of 22 passes for 162 yards.

One of his favorite receiving targets could be senior Jamarr Graves. At 6-4, 190 pounds, Graves already has caught the attention of several Division-I programs.

The defense got a score at Westview when Dominic Johnson returned an interception 41 yards.

Lewis says the Generals need to put everything together.

'We need to understand the importance of playing together, and how to finish out ball games," he says. 'The games we lost (last season), we were either winning or had a chance to win late in the game.'

Grant has its usual formidable schedule, including a nonleague rivalry game at Jefferson on Oct. 21, and one of the goals is to gain a high ranking and a good spot in the 6A playoffs.

'Every year, our goal is to win the state championship,' Lewis says. 'I think that has to be your goal. If your goal isn't to be the best, I think you're selling yourself short.'

Lincoln Cardinals

Coming off a 6-5 season, the Cardinals are 0-1 but still hoping for success against some top competition. Lincoln began the 2011 season with a 35-12 loss at Aloha, which won the state championship in Class 6A last year.

"Aloha was a lot faster and has a very efficiently-run offense," Lincoln coach Mike Fanger says.

On Friday, the Cardinals will get perhaps an easier foe but still face a challenge against another Metro League team, Southridge, in a 4 p.m. game at Jeld-Wen Field.

Fanger went into the new season looking for a quarterback to replace Peter Williams, who graduated and is set to play for Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Williams passed for rnearly 3,500 yards and 33 touchdowns last season.

'Those are big shoes to fill,' Fanger says.

Three players competed for the job, and 603-, 220-pound senior Koleman Vance got the nod at Aloha. Vance hit receiver Spencer Rotenberg, a 6-3, 180-pound receiver, from 24 yards for Lincoln's first touchdown.

Rotenberg totaled 10 catches for 138 yards, and Vance finished 13 of 15 in the air for 197 yards.

The other Cardinal score also came in the fourth quarter, on a 4-yard run by 5-9, 180-pound senior Andrew Ellsworth. He totaled 58 yards on nine carries.

At wide receiver, senior Alex McPhee figures to be an important part of the offense this season for Lincoln, and the Australian Rules Football player leads the PIL in punting with a 41.3-yard average on three attempts.

'We're expecting him to have a big year,' Fanger says.

Despite losing both inside linebackers to graduation, the Cardinals' 3-4 defense should be much improved. Most of the secondary is back, and the Cards have a surplus of upperclassmen bolstering the defensive front, including 6-1, 235-pound senior Mike Lind, a returning starter.

"We have a lot of work to do," Fanger says, "and our guys are really up to the challenge."

CLASS 5A

Benson Techmen

The Techmen are determined to rebound from last season's disappointing (1-8) record, but they may have some challenges with injuries. Benson took a few licks in both camp and the season opener last week, a 60-27 loss to Churchill.

Still, coach Anthony Davis found a lot of positives going into Friday's first home game for the Techmen (at Marshall, versus Summit).

"We were extremely physical (against Churchill), which I was glad to see," Davis says. "We ran around and hit. Even though (the Lancers) scored some points, we won the turnover battle, and very seldom do you do that and lose by that amount.

"We threw the ball really well, and our pass protection was good."

A couple of seniors return to the Tech backfield, including QB Dylan Haupt (6-2, 180), although speedy running back Khari Hanna (5-11, 195) sprained his ankle before the opener.

'Khari could be ridiculously good,' Davis says. 'If he plays like he works, then he could be a pretty big-time guy.'

The Techmen also welcomed back another talent in two-way standout Kendrick Bourne. The receiver-free safety started as a freshman but missed last season. He scored three touchdowns against Churchill, two on offense and one on a fumble recovery. He also made 10 tackles.

"He really lit it up on both sides of the ball," Davis says, of the 6-1, 175-pound junior. 'He's crazy athletic. He does stuff that makes athletic kids look not as athletic.'

Benson figures to score well on offense with its up-tempo, spread approach.

'Right now, we're focused on getting our tempo where it needs to be,' Davis says. 'If we play our tempo, I don't think a lot of teams can play with us. We emphasize playing faster every day.'

Defensively, there are some question marks. Former team captain Matt Dodier and fellow shutdown cornerback Nate Carter have moved on to play college football for Pacific and Western Oregon, respectively. And one of Benson's best defensive players, senior defensive lineman Tatafu Moeaki, hurt a knee on a kickoff return in the Churchill game. At last report, Benson was waiting on results of his MRI.

Davis admits that the team's run defense may get tested. This could be a cause for concern in the PIL, where teams featuring athletic running backs can be successful using a heavy dose of plays on the ground.

'We look a lot faster defensively. We ran really well this summer and can defend the pass,' Davis says. 'I just want to see how we stack up when a team is really pounding the ball at us.'

Cleveland Warriors

The defense stood out last week, as the Warriors opened the 2011 season with a 6-0 home loss to Milwaukie.

Cleveland began the game with a goal-line stand, after the Mustangs returned the kickoff to the 3-yard line. Milwaukie drove 45 yards moments later for its only score.

"Our defense gave us every opportunity to win the game," Cleveland coach Gary Sletmoe says. "Our offense just couldn't get it done."

The offense had two touchdowns, both on runs of nearly 70 yards by Jake Peterson, called back on holding penalties.

But the passing attack produced just five yards on one completion, and the offense put the ball on the ground too often and was hampered by four turnovers, three on fumbles.

Peterson, a 5-10, 185-pound senior, and Brandon Riesterer, a 6-0, 215 senior, combined for 126 yards rushing against Milwaukie.

"They're a one-two punch in the backfield. Both played well," Sletmoe says.

Riesterer also plays defensive end, and Peterson has the speed to break open on offense. 'He has a good change of direction and a really good burst,' Sletmoe says.

Junior quarterback Ryan Senior takes over the offense this season and will look to control the underneath passing game. His most capable downfield target is likely to be John Brant, a 6-1, 180-pound senior who has led the team in receiving for the last two seasons.

'Last year, we were very anemic, so we're working hard in that area," Sletmoe says, recalling an 0-9 season in which the Warriors lost their top skill player to injury right before the opener. "Defensively, I think we'll be pretty solid," Sletmoe says, noting some experience up front and at linebacker. "We have a lot of guys who played there last year.'

At defensive end opposite Riesterer is athletic junior Reid Williams, 6-4, 215.

Cleveland looks to reach the win column Friday at Hood River Valley, which held off the Warriors 9-6 at Cleveland a year ago.

Sletmoe acknowledges that the PIL is talented throughout, but he says the Warriors are taking a positive outlook into the rest of the season.

'The players worked really hard in the offseason, and hopefully the results will follow,' Sletmoe says. 'We know that most games we'll be going in as the underdog, but I would like to think that we'll come out every night and play really hard. Hopefully we'll get some better results.'

Franklin Quakers

The Quakers will look to square their record at 1-1 on Friday when they welcome Reynolds for Franklin's home opener.

Last week, the Quakers fell 39-20 at St. Helens.

Franklin is coming off a 6-4 season that included a 4-1 mark against PIL 5A competition, with the only defeat to league champ Jefferson.

Quakers coach Richard Lex says his team came out of the St. Helens game with some things to focus on and some things to build off on offense.

"We didn't have any clear identity of what kind of football team we had for that first game," Lex says. "We left with the impression that we're certainly athletic enough offensively to score enough points to win."

One other observation from the loss to the Lions: "They blocked better than we did, and they tackled better than we did."

The Quakers have some weapons, notable in senior Damian Woods, a 6-1, 185-pound senior who plays receiver and can take on a running back role, as well. Woods, who was second-team all-PIL last fall, picked up 101 yards receiving on six catches and 63 yards rushing on three attempts against St. Helens.

'He would have been first-team (all-PIL last year) if it weren't for such an extraordinary group of receivers,' Lex says.

At quarterback, the Quakers have senior Josh Nine bulked up to about 6-4 and 195 pounds and ready to embrace his new role as the starter. Nine threw for 439 yards last week, completing 31 of 53 and passing for three TDs. He played defensive back last season while backing up PIL co-offensive player of the year Cameron Bratcher at QB. Nine also will see duty at free safety for Franklin this season.

Other standouts in the St. Helens game included recievers Jacob Lusby, a 6-2, 185-pound senior, and Cody Harris, a 5-9, 165-pound senior. Lusby caught eight passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns, while Harris made 10 receptions for 120 yards and a TD.

Defensively, the Quakers may find themselves a little short for a while. They began the season with some holes to fill, especially those left by all-league players Jon Bickmore and Brendan Epley. Gerard Holodak, 6-0, 195-pound senior linebacker, will be called upon to help lead the defense back to form.

'We lost a lot of seniors from a very good team,' Lex says. 'We have a lot of capable kids, but they're going to get their experience on Friday nights.

'We have a young team, so we're not talking about winning the state title. We have a very experienced coaching staff, though, and I think if our kids respond. Those (other coaches) that are saying we're the sleeper - they're probably right.'

Jefferson Democrats

In recent years, the Democrats have been a force out of the PIL, especially since joining the 5A ranks. Last season, the Demos finished 10-1 and successfully defended their league title.

This year, Jefferson could be the top dog again, but the Demos need to rebuild, and their growing pains showed in last week's 31-6 opening loss at home to Crescent Valley.

Game two for Jeff comes away, at 1-0 Bend.

Jefferson lost a ton of talented seniors from the 2010 squad, including PIL defensive player of the year and starting QB Noa Aluesi and PIL defensive player of the year Alex Mitchell up front.

Josh Neal, a two-way all-league performer, also was among the losses to graduation.

Coach Anthony Stoudamire hasn't pushed the panic button, however.

'You should probably just put us down for last place,' says Stoudamire, laughing.

The Democrats' returnees include Deio Guice, a 6-3, 235-pound senior tight end. He was second-team all-league last year.

Richard Ramsey, South Eugene's starting running back last year, moved to Portland and will be called upon for some big plays with his new team. He netted 69 yards rushing and one touchdown on 12 carries versus Crescent Valley.

And at receiver, 5-9, 160-pound sophomore Vontrail Mills has Stoudamire's vote of confidence for a breakout season in 2011.

'He's a game-breaker,' Stoudamire says. 'You get the ball in his hands, and he'll make things happen.'

A few key seniors who earned PIL all-star honors last year have returned on defense, too: back Mike Ferguson, 5-10, 175; linebacker Tony Unga, 5-10, 170; and versatile Mitchell Todd, 5-11, 215.

Overall, though, Jefferson will field a relatively young team.

'We'd like to win the PIL and get to state,' Stoudamire says. 'But we're going to be really young, with a tough schedule.'

Madison Senators

The Senators finished 4-5 last year and are 0-1 after falling 41-13 to Putnam last week.

Madison hits the road Friday for a game at The Dalles-Wahtonka.

The Madison offense features a promising group of wide receivers, led by junior standout Landi Coleman. Coach Adam Skyles says Coleman, 6-2 and 195 pounds, is still growing. Coleman produced seven catches for 123 yards against Putnam, and he doubles as an outside linebacker. Coleman made four tackles and was named Madison's defensive player of the Putnam game.

'He's becoming a student of the game,' Skyles says. 'He's got great hands and is becoming a tremendous leader in our program. We're really expecting big things from him.'

Senior baseball standout Jon Doyle battled junior Charles Riga for the starting quarterback spot, and the 6-0, 170-pound Doyle passed for 220 yards in the opener.

Coach Skyles says Riga, 6-1, 205, is a player with multiple talents. In seasons past, Riga played linebacker and running back. In the Putnam game, Riga had 23 carries for 125 yards as an RB in Madison's no-huddle style.

Madison lost several good linemen to graduation and hopes to fill in this season with newcomers, including some wrestlers.

'This year on offense we're looking to be a little more explosive. We're definitely faster up front,' Skyles says. 'We've got some depth, we're just not as big as we were last year.'

Three starting linebackers returned, and Skyles says he has been 'excited' by the amount of depth on the defensive line and in the secondary.

The loss to Putnam doesn't dampen his enthusiasm.

"The kids kept fighting the whole game, so we walked away feeling confident about the rest of the season," Skyles says.

Wilson Trojans

Coach Ken Duilio essentially was working from scratch this offseason.

'Every starting position except for two or three was a senior (last year),' he says. 'I haven't had a team return as few people as this since probably my first year of coaching. That being said, I'm excited about the kids who are out this year. I think there's some potential."

The Trojans opened last week with a 27-14 loss to North Salem.

Wilson will play its home opener Friday against Century.

Duilio coached Madison for four seasons before accepting the job last year at Wilson. The Trojans went 3-6, with wins over North Salem, Cleveland and Benson.

The Trojans lost their biggest offensive threat and a defensive mainstay when Duilio's son, Jacob, graduated last spring.

Hoping to fill the void as an impact player is senior defensive end-fullback Brian Wojahn. Coach Duilio is counting on the 6-1, 195-pounder for physical play.

'He's a returning starter and one of our team leaders,' Duilio says. 'He'll be one of our best players. Good kid, good work ethic.'

Wojahn led a three-pronged running attack in the opening game. He had 12 carries for 139 yards and a touchdown, Cory Hincks added 15 attempts for 109 yards and a score, and Anthony Foster chipped in with nine rushes for 55 yards.

At quarterback, the battle for the starting job has been waged between 6-0, 160-pound senior Robbie Wilson and 6-4, 170-pound junior Michael Reid. Wilson got most of the work in the passing game last week, as the Trojans went 1 for 10 in the air for 11 yards.

The wide receiving corps figures to be led by junior Josh Hagge, 5-10, 150.

The rest remains to be seen, Duilio says.

'We're so young, and we have so few returning starters, it's really hard for me to say what our strengths will be," he adds. 'There are a lot of unknowns.'

CLASS 4A

Roosevelt Roughriders

Roosevelt had a breakthrough season in 2010, snapping a long losing streak and going 4-6, but that already is a distant memory for a team that returned eight varsity starters on each side of the ball and has even higher aspirations.

Although coach Christian Swain and his staff are excited about a new prospect at quarterback in freshman Kimane Domena, the starter at QB again is Juan Montoya, a 5-10, 160-pound senior.

'Montoya has great command of the offense, and he worked really hard in the offseason,' Swain says.

Both QBs saw action in last week's opener, a 62-40 loss to LaSalle. Montoya completed 15 of 33 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.

The Roughriders' second game is Friday night at Gladstone.

A big key for Roosevelt is the returning of senior running back Isiah Jones, 5-7, 170 pounds. Last year, Jones ran for 900 yards and scored 13 touchdowns to earn second-team all-PIL honors. Against LaSalle, he went for 171 yards on 11 carries and had two touchdowns rushing. He also returned a kickoff 91 yards for a score.

The combination of a talented backfield and a handful of speedy wide receivers will provide the foundation for Swain's quick-tempo offense. In the opener, Alejandro Vance gained 112 yards on five carries, ran for a score and had two receiving TDs, with 60 yards on his pair of catches.

'We definitely want to run-and-gun, because we have some athletes at receiver and running back,' Swain says. 'But we also feel like we can get under center and pound it. We have big, strong running backs and offensive linemen, so we'll be a little bit of both.'

Defensively, the Riders expect to be solid. They lost a couple all-PIL players to graduation, including second-team linebacker George Taulanga and honorable mention nose tackle Sosaia Tomoelupe. Expected to step into more of a leadership role are Antonio Bella and David Garcia. Bella, a 5-9, 165-pound junior, was all-league at defensive back last season. He also came through with six receptions for 61 yards in the LaSalle game. At defensive end, Garcia is a physically gifted 6-1, 245-pound senior.

The Roosevelt defense forced six turnovers by LaSalle.

'We feel really strong defensively. (Garcia) broke all of our lifting records this year; he benches about 365 pounds,' Swain says. 'We feel like we're going to be pretty stout up front, and we also picked up some athleticism.'

Swain says the Riders have improved in the classroom, as well.

'I'm proud of our progress,' he says. 'We went from a 1.84 team grade-point average my first year here to a 2.55 last year. Our goal for this year is a 3.0. Beyond all the stuff about state championships, we really stress those things first.'