By Paul Valencia
SBLive Oregon will break down every 6A, 5A and 4A team in the state leading up to the 2021 fall football season. Here’s our look at the Milwaukie Mustangs of the Class 4A Cowapa League.
Photo by Leon Neuschwander
Tim Price, first season (79-84 in 17 seasons at Jefferson, Parkrose and Roosevelt)
PAST 3 SEASONS
2021 (spring): 1-5 overall, 1-3 in 4A Cowapa
2019: 0-8 overall, 0-5 in 5A NWOC East
2018: 2-7 overall, 2-4 in 5A NWOC East
ALL-LEAGUE PLAYERS DEPARTED
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jake Cooper, offensive line/defensive line, senior
“I thought he was one of the best linemen last year in our conference,” Price said. “I’m looking for him to do bigger and better things this season.” Cooper plays both ways. Price said he sees Cooper as an offensive lineman in college. Cooper is 6-4, 275, a standout leader, and a standout student with a 3.9 GPA.
Brody Thomson, wide receiver/defensive back, senior
“He brings speed, he brings athleticism,” Price said. Thomson is a great route runner who should win any one-on-one battle he is facing with a defender. “He’s going to be a top wide receiver in our league this season,” Price predicted.
Sean Lachapelle, defensive back/wide receiver, senior
Price calls Lachapelle a “matchup nightmare.” A 6-4 strong safety, he has the speed to cover ground and the size to win 50-50 balls, and he is an excellent tackler. “He’s got some pretty good instincts back there,” the coach said.
Zane Garvey, linebacker/running back, senior
On offense, Garvey did not get the ball much during the spring season, but that’s about to change. Garvey is known more for his defense, though. He led the team in tackles and sacks last season. He was one of the incoming seniors who played in the Les Schwab Bowl this summer. “He’s one of our best athletes,” Price said. “We’re looking for him to do some great things for us his senior year.”
Kaden Harris, quarterback, junior
The starting quarterback, Harris can make every throw, he is accurate, and he’s smart. “He has an arm — a cannon, I should say,” Price said. “He is the general of our offense. He has the passing ability, with some good wide receivers, to have impressive numbers. This year, we’re going to open up the offense and let him showcase what he can do, and that’s throw the football.”
Marquies A’au, offensive line/defensive line, junior
A powerful player, A’au still is learning the game but is coming into his own, the coach said. “If he keeps improving, he should be a first-team all-conference player,” Price said. “He’s another anchor to our offense.” He needs to work on technique on the defensive side, but Price said A’au demands double teams. One player cannot block him alone, Price said.
Larenzo Dukes, running back, sophomore
Along with Garvey, Dukes will give the Mustangs a one-two punch from the backfield. Dukes played some varsity as a freshman “and did a great job for us,” Price said. Dukes is 6-1, 215, with speed. A player to watch this season … and beyond.
No one can doubt that Milwaukie has a coach who wants to be there, who wants to be the one to turn around the program, to be able to celebrate with the entire community.
After all, Price has worked on campus for 10 years. He tried to get the head coaching job on numerous occasions. Now, the position is his.
A former head coach at three schools, Price was the Mustangs’ defensive coordinator in the spring.
“My job, as a head coach, is to turn this around. We have to change the culture over here,” Price said. “I’m coming over here to win football games, to get to the playoffs.”
In theory, that could happen this fall. Price said that has to be the goal, even in Year 1.
“I think we have the talent,” he said. “I think we have the kids who can turn this program around and get this school excited about football again.”
He saw a number of positives in the spring, despite the losing record. For one, the athletes got on the field. Sure, it was difficult — bizarre, even — to play in the winter/spring. But at least they played.
And, even though he was not the head coach, he could see that what was happening in the spring would have a payoff come fall.
“Those games … a big mental release for these kids,” Price said. “It gave them something to believe in. And it got them looking forward to this season.”
“They’re looking forward to playing a full season, playing on Friday nights in front of their community and their fellow students. Getting back to the normal stuff is a benefit for these young men.” — Tim Price