Summer workouts have just started for some schools, and we have our eye on a few teams that we think will be front runners to capture the 2019 State Championship. Two teams that stick out immediately, due to obvious reasons, are Rainier and Cascade Christian (the two teams that faced off in the 2018 State Championship game).
They both lost key players that helped them reach the top tier of 3A football. The key guys Ranier lost were Senior’s Joey Tripp, Austin Cantrell, Logan Keizur, and 11 other seniors. Joey Tripp was one of the main reason’s Rainier was so unstoppable, but he also had arguably the best offensive line in 3A to run behind all season. Rainier loses a lot going into the 2019 season, but so does Cascade Christian. CC losses key All-League and All-State talents like Ian Fralich, John Fralich, Luke Smith and Logan Fleener. Luckily both of these teams had strong supporting casts that helped them reach this point.
Rainier will return reigning 3A Lineman of the Year Easton Crape, David Katon (1st team all-state running back), and up and coming Sophomore Kenney Tripp. Cascade Christian returns Kiegan Schaan (2nd team all-state QB and First-team all-state defensive back), they also return one of the best receivers in the state in Kristian Fralich.
The areas of improvement needed for each team focus primarily on replacing significant playmakers on the Offensive Defensive Lines. Rainier is in a better place than CC in that they are returning Easton Crape and two to three essential role players, but outside of those few players, they lack experience. Cascade Christian loses a few key guys on the line as well and will need to restructure both lines to win their league again.
We believe both of these teams will be able to put together quality offensive and defensive lines during the offseason and will both look to contend for the State Title again in 2019, as both are headed by top 5 coaches in the state.
Rainier’s competition in the league will be similar to last year. With Rainier losing 14 seniors, Amity will again be a threat to their league crown. Rival Clatskanie will be pretty good again and should provide a quality test for both Rainier and Amity from within their special district division. Cascade Christian will be looking at the same dismal league as usual, but programs like Brookings-Harbour and Hidden Valley have shown improvement, and are dark horse teams to potentially upset the Challengers.
The one thing we like about Rainier’s schedule is they play quality opponents almost every week, which should pay off both in the RPI and experience gained towards the start of the playoffs. On the other hand, Cascade Christain plays a lot of below average teams that are looking to gain respect throughout the state. They do play 4A playoff team Klamath Union early on, then they Hidden Valley before ending the season playing Brookings-Harbor and St. Mary’s Medford in consecutive weeks.
We wish both of these teams the best of luck going into the summer of 2019. They both should field good teams that have a chance to make it deep into the postseason again.