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Parkrose High is starting over in its attempt to build a competitive football program.

The Broncos will drop out of the Class 5A Northwest Oregon Conference in football, probably for the next two years, to play as an independent. The school also is looking to replace coach Mitch Neilson, who has stepped down, and beef up its athletic feeder system.

'We're examining the deeper issues of why we've struggled and coaches have not been successful,' Athletic Director Sanjay Bedi says.

Bedi and other Parkrose district leaders, including first-year superintendent Karen Fischer Gray, recently took a trip to Marshfield, a storied school in Coos Bay (Gray was superintendent of the Coos Bay School District before coming to Parkrose). The group watched a homecoming football game and learned how the 5A Pirates, with comparable enrollment of about 1,100, are able to compete year in and year out.

Parkrose also has established a task force that will meet monthly to create changes and support its sports programs. Bedi says the plan is to give the high school coaches responsibility for their sports at the middle-school and elementary levels, too.

The move to independent football status comes after an 0-10 season that included seven NWOC losses by an average score of 62-12. The Broncos have had seven head football coaches in the past 10 years and haven't won a league game since 1992. Turnout has been stable, though, with 45, 47 and 44 players in the last three seasons (frosh and varsity).

'We hope to keep our freshmen together next season and add a JV team,' Bedi says.

Parkrose, which was 2-5 as an independent in 2005, hopes to play eight games in 2008. Bedi says the Broncos already have scheduled Benson, Liberty, fellow independent Madras and R.A. Long (Longview, Wash.).

Bedi says Parkrose also hopes to be placed in a different league when the Oregon School Activities Association reviews its six classifications at the end of the 2006-10 time block.

- Steve Brandon