Don Johnson says Milwaukie will be just as good or better in football in 2013

by:  JONATHAN HOUSE - Chris Besaw (32)Milwaukie High School’s football team had its best season since 1991 this fall — third in the eight-team Northwest Oregon Conference and a 7-3 record — and Milwaukie first-year coach Don Johnson says he expects the success to continue next fall.

“I think they’ll come back just as strong or stronger,” Johnson said. “I think we’ll have more discipline because we’ll have guys coming back who understand what it tastes like to lose and be done, when they think they should have gone further [than the first round of the state playoffs].... I’ve got forty guys in the weight room right now.”

Johnson says he expects a “huge” turnout.

“I have so many kids who want to play football now, it’s crazy,” he said. “There were kids the last two weeks of the season who said they wanted to join the team — basketball kids, and good athletes. They want to be a part of it. Our numbers are going to be insane next year.”

Not to take anything away from what the team accomplished this year.

“I’m extremely proud of the kids who played for us this year,” Johnson said. “I know a lot of people have talked about how it was two transfers [quarterback Richard Ramsey and wide receiver Kendrick Bourne] that made our team successful. But there were a lot of kids who contributed. We had five guys from last year’s team that made all-league, and [returning tackle] Jake Leary was Lineman of the Year.”

Leary, a 6-2, 290-pound two-way lineman was a first-team all-conference selection on both sides of the football. Bourne made the first team on offense and second team as a safety on defense; Ramsey made first team as a cornerback on defense and second team all-conference on offense.

Other Mustangs named to the elite conference second all-star team included seniors Trevontae Anderson (wide receiver) and Chase Blackwell (offensive line), and junior linebackers Chris Besaw and Brenton Oten.

Several Milwaukie players received honorable mention in the conference all-star balloting, including seniors Eddy Thomas (running back), Nicko Goodwin (cornerback) and Anderson (safety); juniors Elias Brezai (punter) and Robert Akil (running back/linebacker), sophomore Joe Aleshire (defensive line), and freshman Tui Tuitele (offensive line).

The Mustangs next fall will return seven players with starting experience on offense: running backs Besaw and Akil, wide receiver Tyler Spencer; linemen Brezai (center), Tuitele (guard) and Mitchell Wilcox (tackle); and sophomore Aaron Walston, who started two games at quarterback.

Six starters will be back on defense — linebackers Besaw, Oten and Akil; Brezai and Joe Aleshire in the line; and sophomore Griffin Johnson at defensive end.

“This year was no fluke,” Johnson said. “We’re going to be a team to contend with every year now....

“In the past, people have scheduled Milwaukie and checked it off as a win before they even played the game. That’s not the case anymore. They’re going to have to wait until Friday night to go out and try to get it.”

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