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Having a ball on the gridiron

Former Oregon City prep standout Russ Schneider still has a passion and a talent for the game of football

Still very much a kid at heart, Oregon City 28-year-old Russ Schneider has been having a ball as he continues to play his favorite sport, football.

Schneider graduated from Oregon City High School in 2001, where as a senior he was the Three Rivers League's top quarterback in what was then a nine-team league, passing for just under 1,800 yards, while completing 54 percent of his passes.

After high school, he played basketball two years at Clackamas Community College, and he was backup quarterback to Joe Wiser and Sawyer Smith at Portland State University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in history.

For the past four years he's starred for the Portland Monarchs semi-pro team in the Greater Northwest Football Association. He's led the Monarchs to three league championships.

His first year with the Monarchs, Schneider was named the GNFA Player of the Year. The past three seasons he has been named the league's Offensive Player of the Year.

And this past season he received a national honor, as he was named the "Minor League Football News' Quarterback and Player of the Year.

'It's just another honor,' Schneider says. 'I play for the love of the game….

'I love the game. I love the game and hanging out with the guys….

'I think I made a mistake [going to PSU]. I should gone to college in California and played junior college ball, and then tried to move up from there.'

Schneider has put up some impressive numbers in semipro football, passing for 10,378 yards and 143 touchdowns in his first three seasons with the Monarchs, while completing better than 50 percent of his passes in each season.

During the 2011 season, Schneider passed for close to 3,500 yards and 48 touchdowns.

'This past season has been my best year,' said Schneider. 'My completion rate was 62 percent….

'The difference this year was normally you don't have the best receivers, but this year I had some college guys.'

Schneider said his top receivers over the past year were college graduates: Zack McGinness (Oregon), Isaiah Smith (Western Oregon), Tim Greenidge (Southern Oregon) and Ervin Simms (Montana State).

Schneider, whose semipro season takes up every Saturday from mid-February through the end of July, says he had a ball in mid-August when he played in the first annual 'Battle for the Bridge' Oregon City vs. West Linn alumni football game.

'It was a blast,' said Schneider. 'I got to play with some of the guys I grew up admiring and watching. I got to play with some of the guys I watched in the state final [Oregon City played Roseburg in the state final in 1996]. I got to play with my dad [Russ Schneider's father Rick Schneider graduated from Oregon City in 1976].

'I got to play with coach [Ed] Burton. I always wanted to do that. He's one of the guys my dad grew up talking about. I'd watch coach Burton coach in [Oregon City] alumni games and I'd always say, 'I want to play for that guy.''

Schneider says he couldn't be happier with the result of the 2011 Battle for the Bridge showdown with Oregon City's cross-river rival.

'We beat West Linn [23-14], I played for three quarters, and I threw two touchdown passes. A lot of cool things happened.

'It was the first alumni game I've played in and it was a lot of fun.'

Schneider says that unless his semipro team is playing a playoff game on the same day, he'd like to return to play in next year's Battle for the Bridge alumni game.

'We've got to defend that trophy,' he said. 'I never want to see West Linn have it.'

Schneider's Oregon City High School team was one of the last to defeat West Linn in a rivalry that began in 1921 and is the longest uninterrupted high school football rivalry west of the Mississippi. West Linn has won the last eight games in the rivalry.

Schneider, who works as an IT specialist for Portland General Electric, plays recreational basketball and slow-pitch softball when he's not playing football.

And come next February, he'll return to the gridiron, practicing for the next semipro football season.

'You pay to get beat up - you pay them to play,' said Schneider. 'But it's a lot of fun, and I'll continue to do it as long as it's fun.'