With what could be as many as 17 players, the Mitchell High School football team joins forces with Monument and Dayville this season, looking to make some noise at the Class 1A level and looking to improve from an 0-3 record in league and a 2-4 mark overall from one year ago.
>With three returners, the Mitchell High School football program will look to make noise at the Class 1A level this season
Ten players donned shiny blue helmets and hit the MHS field for practice Tuesday although John Misener, head football coach at Mitchell High, expects more to come out as the opening day of school gets closer.
Misener, who took over for Leon Lincoln in the middle of last season, estimates Dayville to have eight players coming out for football, with Monument having two.
The three teams will combine practices at least twice a week, with the squads rotating between Mitchell and Dayville, about 36 miles away. The season will open with a contest against Wallowa junior varsity at North Powder Sept. 8.
The team has yet to name a neutral mascot, but Misener expects one to be named this week.
"The main thing is for the kids to have fun and for them to learn to play the game," said Misener, watching his players go through conditioning drills.
Returnin for Mitchell is two-year veteran junior Jesse Powell and one-year returnee sophomore Tim Misener. Both athletes will look to play the guard position. Also returning will be Henry Pedro, a sophomore quarterback who found his way in the starting position for several games a year ago.
New to the team this year is junior Nolan Jones, a Monroe transfer who has a year of playing time under his belt. Also coming from Monroe is senior Roy Shepard, who looks to play safety and linebacker.
Freshman Dustin Cloud will be looked to as an impact player, one who could divide his time between quarterback, tailback and receiver.
"He's probably going to be the fastest one on the team," Misener said. "He's got a good arm, too."
The squad is part of the Special District 4 League, made up of mostly Old Oregon teams, with the exception of Wheeler from the Big Sky. Mitchell, which had long joined with Spray, was formerly of the Trico League.
League opens for Mitchell against Harper Huntington at Huntington Sept. 28.
Misener knows it's still early to tell, but said his main goal is to be competitive.
The Mitchell football team is known to surprise its opponents, as they did in 1996 when the Mitchell/Spray Eagle-Loggers went on a 42-8 rampage over Burnt River, a pre-season favorite to win the then Trico.
"I think we're going to have more experience on the team than last year," Misener said. "We only had one returning player last year. We also have better speed this year and more athleticism. I wouldn't say that we're going to have anything super, but I can see us having a decent season."