Clackamas fifth and sixth graders rule in the Harrison TRL Division

by: SUBMITTED - Clackamas fifth and sixth graders proved themselves one of the best youth football teams around in 2012. They went 8-2 on the season, avenging their only losses with wins in postseason play and capturing the Harrison Three Rivers League Division championship.A group of young men from Clackamas have a bright, bright future playing football.

They practiced hard, listened to their coaches, and got better as the 2012 season went along. And by the end of the season they had proven themselves the best in their Tualatin Valley Youth Football League fifth and sixth grade division, toppling a couple of teams that they had lost to earlier in an end-of-the-season championship tournament, and finishing as champions.

“This group of kids really learned from their mistakes,” Clackamas-Red coach Jay Yates said. “They got better every day, every week, every practice, every game....

“They learned and they executed the philosophies we had as coaches. And they played as a team.”

Seeded third, they dropped top-seeded Centennial Blue 46-38 in the Harrison Three Rivers Division championship game, after knocking off second-seeded Sandy-Red 52-33 in the semifinals. Centennial entered the championship game undefeated on the season.

The wins over Centennial and Sandy avenged earlier losses, and they earned the young Cavaliers an impressive 8-2 record on the season. The Cavs put a lot of points on the scoreboard, averaging 37 points a game in their ten games.

“They could pass and run equally effectively,” Yates said. “We had several games where we passed a lot, and others where it was mostly rushing. It depended on the opponent.”

During the regular season, they earned wins over Molalla-Orange (36-12), Barlow-Blue (26-0), Estacada-Black (26-0), Gresham-White (30-7) and Century-Black (46-13), while dropping close games to Centennial (48-40) and to Sandy (34-33).

Much of the Cavaliers’ offense was run through quarterback Austin Atkeson, who rushed for over 1,400 yards and 29 touchdowns, and passed for over 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Wide receiver Daniel Mahler had 45 receptions for close to 900 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Inside linebacker Dane Jones led the defense, with 80 tackles and three fumble recoveries.

Defensive end Andy Shireman had 48 tackles and four fumble recoveries; free safety Zach Yates had a team-high four interceptions.

This wasn’t the first time the fifth graders on the team had experienced success. Last year, as fourth graders, they were part of a team that went 6-2-1 at the third and fourth grade level, defeating Sherwood in the end-of-the-season medal game.

Vying for the standout Clackamas fifth and sixth grade team were: Rich Kennewell, Parker Modjeski, Dylan Anderson, Trenton Melton, Daniel Mahler, Austin Atkeson, Ethan Collins, Derek DiGregorio, Zachary Yates, Spencer Olson, Mark Lindsten, Elliot Adams, Zachary Melchior, Blaire Cyphers, Aidan Wachhaus, Carson Craig, Dane Jones, Issac Charlton, Jaden Holland, Andy Shireman, Isaiah Lozano, Alex Boyd and Jacob Carsten.

Assistant coaches were: Jeff Miles, Mike DiGregorio, Jerry Atkeson and Rob Kennewell.

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