Coach expects Clackamas to be as good or maybe even better than last year
The Clackamas Cavaliers in 2013 had one of their best football seasons in years, going 9-3 and advancing all the way to the quarterfinals before losing to 2013 state champion Central Catholic.
Many of the top skill people from that standout team are lost to graduation, including Dan Sherrell, who rushed for a school record 2,266 yards and 33 touchdowns; and veteran quarterbacks Cade Wilkins and Doonie Johnson, who combined for close to 2,100 yards and 12 touchdowns passing.
And the Cavaliers are in a new league, which includes both Central Catholic and 2013 Three Rivers League champion Oregon City.
But dont count the Cavaliers out. They return a veteran defensive unit, along with a host of talented athletes.
A good season for me would be to win league, said junior co-captain Bryce Dickey. And I do think we can beat Central Catholic. I dont think its necessarily who has more talent. It has more to do with who plays more physical and who plays with more heart.... Weve got a strong core of seniors who had a lot of success last year to lead the way.
I feel were right up there with Central Catholic and Oregon City and well be able to contend for the Mt. Hood Conference title, echoed Clackamas senior co-captain Brett Peterson. We just have to play to our strengths, play fast and execute, force turnovers.
Id like us to get a bye in the first round of the playoffs, which means top three in conference, said senior co-captain Nathan Kemp. The key will be practicing as hard as we can at every practice, because you play like you practice.
I would really like to beat Oregon City, said senior co-captain Hayden Kirsch. I believe thats something all of the seniors want to do. Its been awhile since weve beaten them. We lost to them last year and my sophomore and junior seasons as well.
And we want to win the Mt. Hood. Make a splash in our first year in the league. Show them what Clackamas can do.
Kirsch said of the anticipated rematch with Central Catholic, Theyre really just another team, and I know that if we prepare well and believe its something we can do, then we can do it.
Clackamas coach Joe Bushman is equally optimistic as his players.
We lost some headliners, Bushman said. But we have kids with talent who have been waiting in the wings, and now they are going to get their chance. We believe we could be as good or better than last year, and last year we had one of the better teams in the state.
Bushman is especially high on his defensive unit.
We return nine players on defense who either started or played a lot, so well be really solid on defense, he said.
Three veterans return in the defensive secondary Peterson, Kirsch and senior Nick Curtis. Kirsch made first team in the Three Rivers League all-star balloting last fall and Peterson made second team.
The Cavaliers return three experienced outside linebackers in Kemp and seniors Newton Blair and Tony Krake. Dickey returns to start at inside linebacker. Kemp made first team all-league last fall, while Dickey received honorable mention in the all-star balloting as a sophomore.
Seniors Kyle Anderegg and Cole Nimz return to the defensive front.
On offense, the Cavaliers return senior linemen Aiden Kragero and Colby Taylor, along with three experienced receivers seniors Markus Golder, Nick Gilbert and Krska. Krska, Taylor and Kragero received league all-star recognition for their play last fall.
Bushman says that he also expects Kirsch and Nathan Mumford to make an impact at receiver this fall. Mumford is a transfer from Portland Christian.
Dickey, who was backup to Sherrell last year, is the front runner to replace Sherrell at running back. But Kemp and Josh Gay, a junior up from the jayvee, are also showing promise, according to Bushman.
Bryce Dickey is not Dan Sherrell, but hes very talented for a junior, said Kirsch. I believe in him and I know hell do a great job. He showed flashes as really good stuff near the end of last season. Im excited to see what he can do.
The Cavaliers have competition for the starting nod at quarterback, with Peterson and juniors Cedric Brooks and Wyatt Hutchison in contention.
Peterson was the helmsman for Clackamas jayvee as a sophomore; Brooks is a transfer from Putnam; Hutchinson was Clackamas jayvee quarterback last fall.
I feel like theyre all giving it their best effort and Id be comfortable with any one of them at quarterback, said Kirsch. I think theyll all do a great job.
The Cavaliers will get an idea of their competitiveness this Friday, when they travel to Los Angeles area powerhouse Paloma Valley for their season opener.
Theyre a good team, Bushman said. They went 10-2 last year and they lost in the second round of their playoffs.
Bushman said the trip to California will include a trip to Santa Monica Beach, the UCLA vs. Memphis game at the Rose Bowl, and a trip to Magic Mountain.
The Cavaliers have a preseason game at Roosevelt on Sept. 12, and they open Mt. Hood Conference play on Sept. 19, with an away game with David Douglas.
They host Oregon City on Oct. 9, and they meet Central Catholic at Hillsboro Stadium on Oct. 24.