The Woodburn football team last qualified for the playoffs in 2011, when the Bulldogs finished the regular season 5-4 and lost 33-22 to Bend in the play-in round of the OSAA state tournament.
That season finished a run of unparalleled success for the Woodburn football program: 11 wins in three years, including two post-season berths. Not coincidentally, said current varsity coach Nick Federico, those were the final teams to feature players from Woodburns now-defunct youth football program.
That was the last team that played it third grade up through when they were seniors, and they were very competitive, said Federico.
Federico would like to see youth football return to Woodburn, and hes looking for anyone and everyone to help. His goal is to offer tackle football to kids from third- through sixth-grade this summer a simple plan, but one that requires a lot of work in advance and ample pay-off in the future.
It takes more than one or two people to organize such an undertaking, and Federico is reaching out to anyone who is interested in offering football to Woodburn youth. Federico has the blueprints for getting the organization started. He reached out to the former organizers who ran the last iteration of youth football in Woodburn from 2004-08 and has an idea of the work that is involved he just needs volunteers to help get things started.
Were looking for coaches, were looking for board members, were looking for maybe team sponsors, said Federico. Were just looking for people that want to help out with organization.
Federico took over Woodburn High Schools football program the season after the Bulldogs loss to Bend. In two seasons at the helm, Federico has won just two games and has yet to win a game in the Mid-Willamette Conference.
The wins will come, said Federico, who has poured his time and energy into building football culture at WHS and recruiting new athletes to the program. Federico has seen success at growing interest in football by getting high schoolers to participate in summer camps and seven-on-seven passing leagues.
But no matter how much raw talent the Bulldogs put on the field, they have been trumped by superior experience. Whereas many of Woodburns players enter their freshman year having never played a down of football, most of the teams Woodburn competes against feature players who have been playing since grade school.
A lot of kids at the high school, this is their first or second experience and have only one or two years, and thats not enough, said Federico. They need to have five to seven years.
Federico recalled taking his team to watch the Sherwood Bowmen practice toward the end of the season. Woodburns season was over, but the Bowmen were on their way toward their fourth consecutive appearance in the 5A finals, and Federico wanted his players to see how a state-championship caliber team practiced.
We took 80 guys, said Federico. We went there and talked to them, and they said their most important thing is their little kid program.
That experience pays dividends, not only on game days, but also on the practice field, said Federico. Players who have been coached and who have been practicing since elementary school have a huge advantage over athletes who are just beginning to learn the fundamentals of the game when they walk through the high school doors.
Ultimately, Federico would like to oversee the program and see the same style of coaching being implemented from elementary school, through middle school up to the high school program. The kids who stuck with football throughout their childhood would become familiar with the terminology and coaching techniques, making the transition between teams smooth and easy.
We would work very closely, said Federico. So when they become varsity, then we can really open up everything.
Federico wants to level the playing field some by gathering dedicated volunteers who can help him rebuild Woodburns old youth football league and offer the sport to kids in the area.
We kind of have an idea because the group before us did a really good job and gave us everything they had, said Federico. We just need the people.