The 2012 season was a year of the good, the bad and the ugly for the Knappa football team.
The Good: Knappa was 4-1 in Northwest League play (which included a win over state runner-up Portland Christian), and finished in a three-way tie for first in the league standings. The Bad: A 16-6 loss at Gaston in the last regular season game cost the Loggers a chance at winning the league title outright. The Ugly: Knappa was 0-5 against teams from outside the NWL, which included four close losses in the preseason (by a combined 15 points) and a 14-8 loss at Gold Beach in the first round of the state playoffs.
Second-year head coach Aaron Barendse is hoping for more of the good in 2013.
Portland Christian is the perennial league favorite, but the Knappa Loggers have owned the Royals since 2008. Portland Christian will get its last shot at the Loggers this year, as the Royals are reportedly moving to the Class 3A level in 2014.
P.C. is going to be the front runner, Barendse said. They have a lot of guys back, and obviously everybody knows what they did last year. They have both Mumford kids (Steven and Nathan) back, and a few of their linemen and some linebackers.
I would say theyre probably a top three team, he said. Well have our hands full. This will be their last year (in the NWL), from what Ive heard. Hopefully they go out with that loss we gave them.
Barendse puts his team right in the mix to be in the second-third place spot, like last year.
With Vernonia, Nestucca and Neah-Kah-Nie, theres some wild cards there, he said. They had the oldest rosters last year, but you never know. Youre always a couple injuries away from having a really bad year.
The Loggers were a little lower on the numbers, as they entered the 2013 season, Barendse said. Knappa graduated some quality seniors off last years roster, while a few key players have elected to play fall baseball.
On the bright side, we have a really large freshmen class, Barendse said, which is good for our school.
Key losses to graduation included linemen Jeff Benthin and Arashi Pierre, along with quarterback/do-everything player Kyle Kelly.
Losing the line guys was huge, and Kyle is the type of player that doesnt come around very often, as far as athletic ability and mentality on the field, Barendse said.
Filling some of those roles will be junior Justin Dragoo, who takes over at quarterback, and senior Koleby Vaughn, who will be one of Knappas ball carriers, along with senior Codey Pember and junior Ryan Simpson.
Those guys will step up and do their jobs, and we have some really tough freshmen there, Barendse said. And we have (senior) Austin Palek, whos a handful at tight end and wide receiver.
Simpson will get a heavier load, with Tyson (Burnard) being gone. But hes fast and quick, and will be a good one.
Junior receiver Chris Cruz returns for his junior season.
The line includes seniors Keith Dunaway, Logan Patterson and Chris Whitworth. Logan and Patterson were both all-league.
Barendse said a few freshmen will get a good look at varsity action, including receiver/running back Austin Dragoo, and linebacker/running back/receiver Andrew Goozee.
Barendses coaching staff includes Chris Spencer (defensive backs and receivers); Chris Geisler (line); Gary Doughty (linebackers, running backs) and Chad Harrington (quarterbacks).