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A freshmen class to watch

OC freshmen held their own with the best of them

It may not take that long for Oregon City to return to the quarterfinals in high school football, and it may not be that long before the Pioneers are playoff contenders year-in and year-out.

One of the reasons this year's Oregon City High School varsity football team was successful was the senior class. This year's seniors went 8-1 as freshmen.

Kenrik Lynch, who coached those seniors when they were freshmen, says this year's freshmen are just as good, and perhaps even better offensively than the freshmen team he coached to an 8-1 record four years ago.

Oregon City this season also had an eighth grade team go undefeated and a fifth and sixth grade team that lost only one game.

'Offensively, skill-wise, [this year's freshmen team] is just as good, and maybe even a little better than this year's seniors when they were freshmen,' said Lynch. 'Considering that we ran an offense [this year] that was a lot more complicated, I think we did really good. We were a little short in numbers, but if these kids stick with it, they have the potential to keep on winning as they move up.'

This year's freshmen went 5-4, but they were highly competitive after getting shut out by Tualatin 28-0 in their season opener.

'We'd had only seven days of practice [when we played Tualatin] and we were still learning our new offense and finding out who our quarterback was going to be,' said Lynch. 'Plus Tualatin ran a much simpler wing-T offense.'

After Tualatin, the young Pioneers handled David Douglas 28-7.

They then dropped a 34-33 nailbiter to Southridge, when they failed on a two-point PAT attempt after scoring a touchdown with 50 seconds remaining.

They handled West Linn 40-20, rolling to a 40-0 lead before Lynch called the dogs off.

They defeated Clackamas 39-33 and Canby 40-26, before dropping a 34-33 barnburner to Lakeridge.

'They scored with 27 seconds left and kicked the PAT to win it,' Lynch said of the Lakeridge game.

The Pioneers finished the league season with a 41-36 win over Lake Oswego, before losing to Sherwood 48-20 in their final game.

'Our offense played really well [in the Lake Oswego game],' said Lynch. 'We never punted. We got up 14-0 and never trailed.'

Lynch said his Pioneers trailed by just a touchdown at halftime of the Sherwood game, before the Bowmen pulled away with their explosive wing-T offense.

'We had all the pieces offensively,' said Lynch. 'A quarterback who was pretty savvy with his understanding of the game, four really good receivers, a decent running back, and a pretty potent offensive line.'

Lynch said that his quarterback, Austin Whitton, completed over 50 percent of his passes on the season, connecting equally well from long distance as well as from up close and middle range.

'We had four really good receivers,' Lynch said. 'They caught the ball like no freshmen team I've seen. They didn't drop many passes.'

Starting receivers were Austin Williams, Coy Vandehey, Tristan Birge and Jonathan Marquett.

'I would be surprised if [Austin Williams] didn't see varsity time next year,' Lynch said. 'He was our go-to guy. He's a kid to watch.'

Lynch said the Pioneers had a hard-running tailback in Kelton Rapattoni.

Starting in the offensive line were: Chris Mengis, Caleb Greer, Jake Yoshimura, Bradley Odle and Christian Durand.

'Chris Mengis was an exceptional center,' said Lynch. 'He's got good size (6-0, 220) and he's a good athlete. He's got good hands, good feet…. We ran the shotgun 95 percent of the time and he had one bad snap all year.'