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- Written by Jon Mitchell--The News Review
- Last Updated on June 27, 2012
- Published on September 1, 2006
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“I can’t begin to say how nice this is going to be,” the Yoncalla High football coach said. “We’ll get to play schools that are a lot closer which are a lot closer to our size. I’ll tell ya, I’m not going to miss that six-hour trip to Gold Beach.”
The reclassification of Oregon’s high schools formed the new league, which consists of schools which were in the old Big Fir (Oakland, Yoncalla and North Douglas), Tri-Co (Monroe, Oakridge and Central Linn) and Southern Cascade (Glendale and Riddle) leagues last season. It took plenty of travel time off for most schools, matching each of them up with other schools of similar size.
And from what most coaches are saying, that includes similar abilities, too.
“We were fortunate enough to get out of that league,” Glendale Athletic Director and football coach Steve Prock said of being in the old SCL. “And if you’re fortunate enough to get out of this league, you’ve got as good a shot as any to be a state champion.”
Monroe could be considered an odds-on favorite headed into the 2006 season, which begins with endowment games on Sept. 2. Monroe, after all, won the Tri-Co League title nine of its last 10 years in the league.
And despite a roster which will play a different set of teams, have just six seniors and a slew of underclassmen, expectations haven’t changed much for the Dragons.
“We never change that much,” said Max Wall, whose team went 8-2 a year ago but lost in the first round of the 2A state playoffs. “No matter who it is that’s in the league, we still expect to contend for a league title.”
Glendale hasn’t reached the postseason since 2001 when it won the last of its six consecutive Big Fir League championships. But after a 1-8 campaign in 2002, the Pirates have been just a win away from reaching the playoffs the past three seasons.
“I really don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be in the mix at the end of the season,” said Prock, whose team finished 6-3 a year ago.
Three teams from the league will reach the 2A state playoffs, scheduled to begin Nov. 10.
Both the Oaktowns in the league — Oakland and Oakridge — bring run-and-shoot type offenses into the league and have proven capable of some high-scoring outputs.
In northern Douglas County, traditional rivals Yoncalla and North Douglas, which combined for a co-op the past two seasons under the Yoncalla flag, have split into separate programs. Still, the Eagles went 0-9 last year and have won just one game in the past three seasons.
Riddle will have its third new coach in four years in Russell Hobson, who has been an assistant coach the past four seasons. He takes over a program which snapped a 22-game losing streak with a victory over St. Mary’s last October.
The Central Linn Cobras, who like the Irish are coming off a 1-8 campaign and have a new coach. But their new coach, Jim Keizur, has run the programs at Pleasant Hill (14 years), Harrisburg (six years), Elmira (three years) and McKenzie (one year).