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Experienced Lakers expect to challenge in TRL

Lake Oswego returns a third-year QB and plenty of speed and talent at the skill positions

MATTHEW SHERMAN - Jack Haney, Mitchell Verburg, Andrew Bartley, Max Mattern, Nate Hidalgo and Griffin Roach figure to play key roles on a Lake Oswego team that hopes to contend again in the Three Rivers League and potentially make a deep playoff run.The Lake Oswego football team is coming off a quiet season by its standards, one which saw the Lakers finish fourth in the Three Rivers League and miss the quarterfinals for the the second year in a row after previously advancing that far every year since 2000. But there was plenty from last season to give the team plenty of optimism this fall. Lake Oswego was hit hard by early suspensions which saw the team go 1-2 to start the year, hampering its OSAA ranking. That forced the Lakers into a second-round playoff match-up on the road against No. 3 Grants Pass for a showdown that Lake Oswego nearly won.

“I think we left that game with a lot of 'woulda' couldas',” Coury said.

Now, Lake Oswego returns a veteran team with a seasoned quarterback and could be a big factor in a loaded TRL.

Lake Oswego should be a versatile team on offense but could look to put the ball in the air more than it has in the past few seasons.

That's due in large part to the return of quarterback Mitchell Verburg who has been a starter since his sophomore year.

Verburg may be one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the state but should get a chance to showcase his arm this year.

“We'll always try to be balanced on offense but we'll probably let Mitch do more this year in terms of deciding where the ball goes and making calls at the line,” Coury said.

Verburg will have a handful of intriguing targets at wide receiver. Drew Todd returns and, as a standout post for the basketball team, is one of the league's tallest players and a difficult match-up.

Cam Nicklos will provide the Lakers with speed on the outside.

“He can really run and get us downfield,” Coury said. Adam Brumfield, Devin King, Andrew Bartley and Jonas Lamont should all get receptions this season as well.

In the run game, Lake Oswego should benefit greatly from the return of Max Mattern following an injury. Mattern is a bruising back who also poses a threat in the passing game.

Drew Perringer and Martin Sorrelhorse should also see carries for the Lakers.

On the offensive line, Lake Oswego is experienced but a bit thin, meaning that health will be crucial to the team's success.

Tommy Underwood will anchor the line at center, alongside Gunnar Braden at right guard. A pair of sophomores in Dawson Jaramillo and Shawn Elliott will also be a big part up front along with Joe Morse, Jack Haney, Ben Shimota and Griffin Roach.

Depth will be a bigger issue for the Lakers for the first season in a while. Lake Oswego's numbers slightly down again this year and the team will do everything in its power to avoid injuries.

Lake Oswego also has an experienced kicker in Ethan Agritelley, who gives the Lakers another scoring weapon.

“It's kind of been a pattern right now. Numbers are down at the youth level and kids are playing other sports year round. It makes an impact,” Coury said.

On defense, Roach will be integral to Lake Oswego's success up front at nose guard.

“In years past, when we've had some of those really good defenses, we've had a great nose guard and I think Griffin's right up there,” Coury said.

At linebacker, both Nate Hidalgo and Haney return, giving Lake Oswego a formidable corps, along with Haden Hewes and Alex Bassett.

The Lakers also have depth in the secondary. Bartley, Nicklos, Cole Hammond and Jordan Watson will defend against the pass along with Lamont, Sorrelhorse and Garrett Warner.

“We have a fair amount of experience back there,” Coury said.

In early practices, the team has been focusing on finding players who can add to Lake Oswego's depth. It will be another gauntlet of a schedule for the Lakers. They will face Southridge to open the season on Friday and then will host South Medford before opening the TRL slate.

“Every week you have to be ready to play. West Linn, Sherwood and Tigard will all be good and you'll have to beat one or two of those teams. Newberg is a team to keep an eye on and Elvis is going to to a really good job at Lakeridge,” Coury said.