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Youthful Cavaliers hope to mature in a hurry

They'll need to cut down on miscues to be a factor in the TRL this season

It was tough sledding for Clackamas' varsity football team last year, as the Cavaliers went winless in 10 games.

The Cavaliers return a good nucleus of players from that team, along with a talented sophomore class; and they are determined to do better than last year.

But unless this year's sophomores and juniors mature in a hurry, the Cavaliers (1-3) may have to wait a year to make an impact at the 6A level. They'll have to do better than they did last Friday, when they turned the ball over six times in a 27-6 loss at Gresham.

'I feel so much better than last year,' said senior running back Oliver Farnes. 'The team chemistry is much better, and we've got a young group with a lot of talent….

'The sophomore class is very strong. My little brother's part of that group and they've been winning championships since grade school. Not just in football, but in basketball and baseball too….

'By the time they are juniors and seniors, they are going to be a heck of a team.'

'We want to make the playoffs [this year],' said senior defensive captain Taylor Becker.

'We want a winning season,' said Farnes.

'We want a successful run in the playoffs - at least the quarterfinals,' said Farnes.

The Cavaliers have already shown vast improvement over last year, when they scored a total of just 105 points in 10 games. They've scored 107 points in their first four games this season.

Farnes and Becker are part of a varsity lineup that includes six returning starters on offense and seven returning starters on defense.

Despite Clackamas' abysmal win-loss record a year ago, five Clackamas underclassmen received Three Rivers League all-star recognition in 2011, including Farnes.

A 5-10, 180-pound running back, Farnes has been pretty impressive in preseason, rushing for 191 yards and four touchdowns in a 50-6 rout of McKay, 178 yards and a touchdown in a tough 42-37 loss to Barlow, 89 yards in a 34-14 season-opening loss at Centennial, and 84 yards and a touchdown in last Friday's loss at Gresham.

No less impressive has been Cade Wilkins, a 6-1, 165-pound sophomore who has earned the starting nod at quarterback. Wilkins passed for 541 yard in Clackamas' first three games, completing better than 50 percent of his passes. He was an impressive 16-of-20 against McKay.

'He's a good quarterback,' said Becker. 'And he's only going to continue to get better.'

David Reese, a 6-7, 225-pound sophomore lineman, has also been starting on offense for the Cavaliers. And a number of other sophomores are getting a good deal of varsity playing time.

The Cavaliers have another underclassman who has been making some noise in junior Erick Douglas III. In Clackamas' first four games the 5-9, 155-pound receiver had 27 catches for 345 yards, and he'd also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

Among other offensive starters for the Cavaliers against Barlow were: seniors Kalani Nerveza (6-1, 200, wide receiver), Erich Manion (6-3, 210, lineman), Kyle Hadeed (6-1, 230, lineman) and Josh Servo (6-0, 230, lineman); and juniors Jacob Iverson (6-2, 175, wide receiver), Ryan Gilbert (5-8, 160, wide receiver) and Jonathon Kenion (6-3, 240, lineman).

Defensive starters against Barlow included: seniors Becker (6-1, 170, defensive back), Marquese Brown (6-0, 150, defensive back), Nick Chancellor (6-12, 180, linebacker), Nerveza (6-1, 200, linebacker), Hadeed (6-1, 230, linebacker), Joey Christensen (6-0, 200, linebacker), Chris Harris (6-3, 265, lineman) and Ben Watzig (6-1, 200 linebacker); and juniors Douglas III, Jonathon Kenion (6-3, 240, lineman) and Cody Lutz (6-2, 200, lineman).

Hadeed, Watzig, Christensen and Hayes all received all-league honors for their defensive play last season.

The Cavaliers (1-3) host Lakeridge in this Friday's TRL opener.

Lakeridge quarterback Tommy Knecht completed 67-of-98 passes (68 percent) for 961 yards in the Pacers' first four games.