3A Football Preview

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Where last year featured a 3A classification completely jumbled and devoid of traditional powers at the top, this fall will see a resurgence in traditionalism and a drastic increase in depth. The door may be just as wide open as it was last year, but the amount of A-tier teams able to take advantage is much, much longer. 

SD1 – How does Banks reload?

The equation for this league is quite simple: how does Banks replace the production of Charlie White, Cooper Gobel, and Jamar Flippin? If what the Braves can put together is anything close to the production they had last fall, when they had one of the state’s best quarterbacks, best running backs, and undoubtedly the state’s best tight end on one roster, the game is over. Banks will win this league, and going away. If they take a while to get going, or the replacements are not ready to fill the shoes, the door will certainly be open. The problem is–most pressingly applying to Rainier and Warrenton–even if Banks is not quite ready, the door might not be open enough.

Rainier and Warrenton are teams to watch in the classification, but for very different reasons. Rainier, as a perennial power finding its way in the world without a Tripp or Ware on the roster, could easily find itself stumbling in the early season and prove unready to take advantage. Warrenton has a program on the rise, but they have to fill shoes of their own, i.e. replacing Hordie Bodden Bodden, and they might not yet have the physical maturity to go up against the perennial 4A power and win head to head. Both individually have a chance against Banks if the door opens, but the betting favorite would still be Banks. Both programs, especially Warrenton, have potential in the coming years to be contenders in their own right, but for the time being, this is Banks’ league to lose.

Yamhill Carlton has an outside chance to make some noise. Though a playoff berth is not expected, they are another team to keep an eye on.

Projected Final League Standings:

  1. #6 Banks
  2. #7 Rainier
  3. Warrenton
  4. Yamhill-Carlton
  5. Corbett
  6. North Marion
  7. Valley Catholic

SD2 – Does Dayton live up to the hype?

In the last three seasons, nobody has improved more as a program than Dayton. Going from losing on the road to your arrival 56-0 to end the season, the greatest margin in your series history with that team, to winning in overtime on that team’s field to win the league and advance to the postseason, and then go into the following season as a leading contender to win the title, is a turnaround of unspeakable proportions. Credit has to be given to Jacob Peterson, the community of Dayton, and obviously the players themselves. This roster is loaded with talent, both of the upperclassmen and underclassmen variety. The depth is there of a contender, the coaching is there of a contender, the A+ ‘player-of-the-year’ candidate is there in Nate Arce, and the momentum of a program meant for another day in the sun is there.

Kennedy also has the pieces to not just win this league, but win the state outright. Out of everyone 2A-4A, no one brings back the amount of production that Kennedy does. There are very few teams in the state at any level that can boast the stability in returning seniors that Kennedy fosters. If they can clear the hurdle of Dayton, it is hard to see the Trojans not making the semifinals at least. An incredible tug-of-war between two traditional powers, though usually at different classifications, will take place here, and it should be one of the better storylines in the state as a whole this year.

Santiam Christian, Amity, Salem Academy, and Newport all have unanswered questions about their long-term structure, and they have short-term holes to fill that could make transitions to new coaching staffs in the case of Amity and Santiam Christian, or new classifications in the case of Salem Academy, all the more difficult. Santiam Christian’s new coach Justin Carley is of the Santiam Christian tree, Amity’s new coach Baltazar Campuzano is an alumnus, and Salem Academy is playing largely a schedule that it has been used to in the last decade, but all have significant struggles that the top of this league does not. It is likely that whoever finds stability the quickest will claim the third, fourth, and fifth place spots in this league, though none are expected to find themselves in the contender column. 

Projected Final League Standings:

  1. #3 Dayton
  2. #4 Kennedy
  3. #9 Santiam Christian
  4. Amity
  5. Salem Academy
  6. Newport
  7. Jefferson
  8. Scio

SD3 – The biggest stage 

This is probably the most talented league the classification has to offer right now. Aside from having the number one and number two teams in the classification, there is a chancedit can produce a grand total of four teams from the top 10, possibly even four teams winning playoff games.

South Umpqua brings back the state’s best player in Jace Johnson, and around him a plethora of returning all-state talent and all-league talent that will put the Lancers firmly back in the contenders column. In the grand structure of the state right now, everyone is looking up at South Umpqua. Even though Siuslaw is technically the reigning state champions, South Umpqua returns more A-level players than anyone else in the state and has some underclassmen talent from last fall returning. With another year of development, they could end up creating a team wholly unstoppable by a 3A opponent.

Cascade Christian brings back a large amount of talent themselves–more all-state picks than South Umpqua–headlined by quarterback Keith Reed. The Challengers had one of the more efficient and difficult-to-stop offenses in the state last season, and that does not seem likely to change. Reed, not a special athlete nor generational in throwing the football, is nonetheless one of the more well put-together quarterbacks in the state at any level, and in terms of reading and progressions is certainly one of the state’s best. Jon Gettman has the weapons on his roster to make Cascade Christian a contender, possibly even the leader in the clubhouse, to make the state title game alongside South Umpqua.

Coquille and Lakeview are no pushovers as potential number threes in this league. Both in their own right have to replace phenomenal talent from last season, namely Gunnar Yates and Gavin Patterson, but both return enough pieces and maintain strong enough units within their team to be potential playoff winners in the first round. Neither one is expected to crack the top two in the league, but both could potentially crack the top 10 of the state early in the season. Success for these two programs, both of whom made the final-four in 2A last season, should not be in short supply despite our seemingly low placement of them.

Projected Final League Standings:

  1. #1 South Umpqua
  2. #2 Cascade Christian
  3. #10 Coquille
  4. Lakeview
  5. Sutherlin
  6. St Mary’s/Phoenix/North Valley/Douglas
  7. St Mary’s/Phoenix/North Valley/Douglas
  8. St Mary’s/Phoenix/North Valley/Douglas
  9. St Mary’s/Phoenix/North Valley/Douglas
  10. Brookings-Harbor

Mountain Valley Conference – Who wins the trenches?

La Pine and Siuslaw, both semifinalists from a year ago, find themselves losing massive amounts of production from their offensive and defensive lines that got them to the heights they did last season. Multiple all-state lineman, have departed both squads. What is left on both teams is a group of juniors and sophomores from last season who were not the main stars of their respective playoff runs. Though effective in their own right, skilled, and noteworthy, it is not a stretch to say that losing the generational talents that went through both of these schools in the last couple years will have something of a massive effect. Siuslaw will no doubt double down on their split-back Veer offense, probably relying less on the spread sets they had used in the past two seasons to exploit Braydon Thornton, and likewise, it is probable that we see La Pine stick in their I-formation base. La Pine, though, unlike Siuslaw, can boast the best quarterback in the league–Colton Campbell–and, as such, almost certainly has a leg up on their opponents from the south coast. These two teams will likely fight for league supremacy once again, and the tug of war could be a lesser talked about but all the while intriguing storyline to keep up on.

Creswell has some weapons that could make them formidable, but the challenge of returning to a fully 3A schedule is no joke.

Projected Final League Standings:

  1. #8 La Pine
  2. Siuslaw
  3. Creswell
  4. Sisters
  5. Elmira
  6. Harrisburg
  7. Pleasant Hill

SD4 – How good is Vale’s defense?

Make no mistake: this is Vale’s league to lose. The returning talent that the Vikings will boast on the defensive side of the ball is something few others at any level can claim. Simply projecting forward on a game-by-game basis, it is not hard to say that Vale could at the end of the regular season have the lowest points per game allowed out of anyone in the classification. The Vikings came very, very close to making the state championship game last season, a game that with hindsight they probably would have been favored in, and this season, they could return to the final four once again. The offense may not be spectacular, but with the defense that Vale could have, it does not really have to be. In the same model of Dayton, three touchdowns a game might be enough to get you in the State title game.

Nyssa is a fascinating rebuild that could burst onto the scene this season and surprise many people. There are some incredible athletes on this roster, most notably quarterback Andrew Enders. If the Bulldogs find themselves winning a playoff game, it will almost certainly be both on his legs and his arm, as the two combined make him one of the top-five deadliest weapons the classification has to offer. Nyssa, conversely from their counterparts in Vale, will put up points but might have to win games by shootout. More information and film is needed on what this version of the Bulldogs’ ceiling is, but the potential is huge.

Burns, simply from an outsider’s perspective, seems a year away from a large-scale return to prominence. This year could feature a Highlander return to the playoffs, but in this hostile league, that might be hard to achieve. 

Projected Final League Standings:

  1. #5 Vale
  2. Nyssa
  3. Burns
  4. Ontario
  5. McLoughlin

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