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Greyhounds wrap up season with several all-league picks

Six Gaston players earn all-league football honors after a third-place finish

Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Gaston senior quarterback Nate Lewis was chosen as an honorable mention pick to the Northwest League all-star team, which was announced earlier this month.Gaston’s football season didn’t end quite the way the team’s players and coaches had hoped, but the Greyhounds were still honored at the end of the year with a number of selections to the Northwest League all-star team.

Gaston went 4-4 overall and 2-2 in league play to finish in third place, narrowly missing the Class 2A state playoffs for the second straight year following a string of three consecutive postseason appearances.

That didn’t dampen the team’s accomplishments, however, as a total of six players were named to the all-league team.

Dylan Clark and Ryan Sweet both earned first team all-league status on both sides of the ball, while Joey Marquardt was a first team selection on the offensive line. Dylan Clark, Ian Mann and Ryan Sweet earned second team honors, and Nate Lewis was an honorable mention pick.

“It was a nice way to end the season,” Gaston coach Reeve Woodward said. “I was very happy. Everyone we were allowed to put up for all-league honors received something. The other coaches in the league definitely respected what we’ve done.

“I thought we had a really good year. We ended at 4-4, but we were one bad call against Nestucca and one freak play against Willamina away from making the playoffs.”

Woodward was referencing a 21-20 nonleague loss to Willamina in Gaston’s season opener and a 28-20 loss to Nestucca on Oct. 10 that ultimately allowed the Bobcats to lock up second place and the league’s final playoff berth.

“You know, that’s life. Things happen and you have to recover from that. The guys didn’t let that get them down,” Woodward said. “This is a good group. They’re not going to be throwing their helmets and doing stupid stuff. They handle things like grown-ups for the most part, and I think they were still pretty proud of what they accomplished this year.”

Ryan Sweet was honored for his all-around play this season, earning first team all-league status as a running back, defensive back and punter. On offense, the senior accounted for 1,548 total yards (912 rushing, 316 receiving and 320 passing) and 14 touchdowns. Defensively, he had one interception and averaged 38 yards per punt.

Clark was another versatile weapon in Gaston’s arsenal, earning first team status as a wide receiver and defensive back. Offensively, the junior had 789 rushing yards and six touchdowns, and he added 347 receiving yards and three more scores. He also had one kickoff return for a TD and two others of 50 yards or more. On the defensive side of the ball, he led the team with two interceptions.

Marquardt was Gaston’s other first team all-league selection. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior was honored for his standout play on the offensive line.

Clark earned second team all-league status as a kick returner, while Mann was a second team pick as a running back and Alex Sweet was chosen as a tight end. Lewis got an honorable mention award as a quarterback.

Mann was Gaston’s leading rusher this season with 917 yards and eight touchdowns. Sweet was the team’s leading receiver with 471 yards and four TDs, and he also added 108 yards on the ground. Lewis, meanwhile, passed for 677 yards and six touchdowns.

“I think we got as much as we could out of everybody this season,” Woodward said. “They played as hard as they could every game. They played with maximum effort.”

Gaston’s five seniors this year were Lewis, Marquardt, Alex and Ryan Sweet, and lineman Cody Jeffries, who played 10 different positions this fall while filling in for a variety of injured teammates.

“It’s pretty tough to lose all those guys,” Woodward said. “This group of seniors really grew up this year. They’ve always been the babies and had older groups ahead of them. They were always followers and never had to be leaders.

“It was a challenge for them, but they really stepped up this year and did a great job of being leaders for the younger guys.”

While this year’s team didn’t reach the same heights as previous squads, Woodward still had nothing but praise for his players.

“We look at it as kind of an unsuccessful season because we were one game out of the playoffs,” he said. “But in the end, I’m very proud of this group and how hard they worked. They learned this year how to battle through adversity and I think they learned some important lessons along the way.”

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