Thunder and lightning
Woodburn's offensive playmakers have football coach Nick Federico excited for fall
After a breakout season in 2011 in which the Bulldogs won three league games and finished 5-5 overall, Woodburn went winless last year and finished a second consecutive year at the bottom of the Mid-Willamette Conference.
Although the Bulldogs were one of three teams to score less than 100 points during last years campaign, Woodburn is not without offensive weapons. Four of the teams five returning all-conference selections were honored on the offensive side of the ball.
Anybody on this team can score, we just need to figure out how to get them the ball in space, Woodburn football coach Nick Federico said.
The Bulldogs key strength is its corps of receivers, led by seniors Nate Bosquez and Angel Carrasquillo. Small compared to their league peers, the duo possesses elite speed and the ability to do damage in the open field provided they turn the corner on end-arounds and sweeps or catch the ball with room to make moves.
Nate is pound-for-pound for his weight class he is the strongest kid on my team, Federico said.
Senior Daniel Molina returns behind center after splitting time with Cam Guizar at quarterback last season, and gives the Bulldogs stability at a key position. A mix of both size and speed, Federico expects Molina to be a dual threat from the position.
Essentially, hes a running back out of that position, Federico said. Hes our best running back who can throw the ball.
Thats not a knock on Molinas ability to run the offense. In fact, Federico has so much trust in Molina that he wants to make sure Molina had the quarterback position to himself so he could touch the ball on every possession.
Daniel is my most consistent, most loyal, most trustworthy player, Federico said. You know what youre going to get from Daniel. Hes very very solid, like a rock.
Another senior, running back Conan Baus, gives Woodburn a change of pace from its speedy receivers. Baus can be a wrecking ball with the football and turn a one-yard loss into a three-yard gain by sheer will alone.
Its kind of like thunder and lightning, Federico said of the difference in running style between Baus and speedier guys like Bosquez and Carrasquillo.
On offense, hes just a workhorse, said Federico. Hes very big and strong.
The same description applies on defense, where Baus uses his physicality to blow up plays and get into the heart of opposing offenses. Last year, Baus played defensive line for the Bulldogs, but Federico and his coaching staff have yet to settle on a defensive position for the senior that best takes advantage of his size and speed.
Woodburn offensive line will need to make big gains to make room for its offensive players. The Bulldogs lost all-conference linemen Leo Garza and Jonathan Uriarte to graduation last year, and this seasons line is a relative unknown.
The teams lone returning all-conference player on defense, junior linebacker Sawyer Barton will lead a team that needs to improve on its ability to stop big plays. The Bulldogs gave up the most points out of any 5A team last season, surrendering many of their points to plays of 20 yards or longer.
Hes kind of our secret weapon, because nobody has really seen him play, Federico said. Part of that is due to playing some time at the JV level last year, but Federico had to remind opposing coaches at last years league meeting to determine all-conference voting that when Barton did play at the varsity level, he had an impact.
I said, This kid has hit every single one of your quarterbacks, Federico said. Opposing coaches took note and gave him honorable mention status, but Federico expects Barton to bloom into a much more impactful player for his final two years with the Bulldogs.
One bonus in Woodburns favor and all the Mid-Willamette teams heading into this season is the departure of 2013 state champion West Albany to the 6A classification. The Bulldogs to the south were a perennial power, having won state titles in 2007 and 2008 in addition to being an annual threat to contend for the conference championship.
Any time you lose a state champion, it hurts, Federico continued, noting that the loss of West Albany takes away from the overall strength of the Mid-Willamette and keeps Woodburn from testing its team against one of the best in the state. To have teams like that in your league, its just great to be around and to get ready for them.
In West Albanys place, the Mid-Willamette welcomes the Central Panthers of Independence. A 4A power in their own right after having won the Val-Co Conference from 2007-11, the Panthers will have to adjust quickly to the pace of play and size/speed of players in a deeper conference.
Were getting a great team and a really well-coached team, Federico said about Panthers coach Shane Hedrick. Centrals coach is one of the best in the state.
The Panthers and Bulldogs will meet at the end of the regular season on Halloween night in Woodburn.
2014 WOODBURN FOOTBALL
Coach: Nick Federico
Last season: 0-9 (0-7 Mid-Willamette)
Key Players: Sawyer Barton, Nate Bosquez, Angel Carrasquillo, Daniel Molina, Conan Baus
Key Losses: Miguel Salinas, Damian Espinoza, Leo Garza, Jonathan Uriarte