By René Ferrán
The Oregon high school football season kicks off this week. Here are one writer’s preseason Class 6A power rankings.
Read more about each of these teams at the following link:
Photo by Taylor Balkom
Also qualifying for the playoffs: Roosevelt (PIL), Jefferson (PIL), Nelson (Mt. Hood), David Douglas (Mt. Hood), Beaverton (Metro), Sprague (Central/Southwest), Glencoe (Pacific)
25 Oregon City (2-8 in 2021)
The Pioneers look to make headway in the Three Rivers, yet again the state’s toughest league, but they should make enough hay in the nonleague portion of their schedule to contend for a home game in the Columbia Cup.
24 Newberg (3-7)
The Tigers graduated 10 all-conference players, including several two-way standouts, but with the reigning Pacific defensive player of the year in senior LB Hudson Davis, they should be able to grab the conference’s final automatic playoff berth.
23 Grant (5-6)
The Generals will contend for another PIL championship, but the litmus test for the team’s success will be in the OSAA playoffs as they seek their first postseason win since 2017.
22 North Salem (7-4)
The Vikings are loaded with skill position talent, but the question marks they have on both lines could mean a Columbia Cup berth is their fate in their return to 6A.
21 Sandy (7-3)
The Pioneers last season beat rival Barlow for the first time in the past 21 years, but a first playoff win since 1998 eluded them. They should be one of the top seeds in the inaugural Columbia Cup.
20 Roseburg (9-2)
Roseburg will be hard-pressed to match last year’s magical season, when the team started 7-0 and reached the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Led by senior DL Tiger Black and junior RB Cayden Eckel, though, Roseburg will remain a tough team to beat.
19 Sunset (5-5)
The Apollos will count on many newcomers, especially on the offensive and defensive lines, to contend for one of the Metro League’s automatic playoff berths and a spot in the 16-team championship bracket.
18 South Medford (2-8)
The Panthers took their lumps with a youthful roster last season. They’re now seasoned veterans led by a stacked receiving corps, and they’ll battle for one of the last spots in the championship bracket.
17 Liberty (6-4)
The injury bug hit at the worst time for the Falcons last season. Avoid it this year and find a quarterback to replace three-year starter Hiro Diamond, and they’ll challenge for the Pacific Conference title and a spot in the championship bracket.
16 Barlow (6-5)
Assuming the Bruins stay healthy, making a fourth consecutive playoff appearance appears highly probable. Reprising their surprise run to the 2019 semifinals? That might be a little more challenging.
15 South Salem (6-5)
The Saxons already had one of the most dynamic passing games in the state, led by senior QB Daschel Smith and WR Tini Tinitali III, and they added transfer senior WR Zach Wusstig from nearby 2A Jefferson. This is a team that none of the 6A heavyweights will want to face in the playoffs.
14 Mountainside (6-5)
The Mavericks enter the season with question marks at quarterback and linebacker; answer those successfully, and they should be well-positioned to battle for a spot in the championship bracket.
13 West Salem (9-2)
The Titans graduated all 11 starters on offense. They’ll hope their success on Thursday nights at the JV level translates to Friday nights as they fight for a spot in the 16-team championship field.
12 Tigard (3-7)
The Tigers’ linebacking corps matches up with any in the state. How well the rest of the defense jells as a unit likely will determine whether they crack the championship bracket or end up in the Columbia Cup.
11 North Medford (4-5)
The Black Tornado added transfer senior QB Caiden Lacey from Eagle Point and boast an impressive receiving corps. With 12 starters back, they’ll be a tough out for any Special District 1 and state playoff opponent.
10 Lake Oswego (10-2)
Graduation took its toll on last year’s No. 1 playoff seed, but the Lakers have enough talent returning to contend for a home game in the championship bracket.
9 Sherwood (7-5)
New coach. New quarterback. Same expectations for a program that reached the quarterfinals last season, becoming the first team to do so after starting 0-4. Don’t expect the Bowmen to start 0-4 this time.
8 Westview (9-2)
The Wildcats last season earned their first playoff win since 2016. They’ll need to break in a new quarterback, but led by senior RB Jordan Fisher and the Sager brothers, they should contend for a first-round home game in the championship playoffs.
7 Clackamas (10-2)
The outlook for the Cavaliers in coach James Holan’s third season is strong. There’s no denying the talent and experience the program lost after last season’s run to the second round, but there seem to be capable players ready to step forward and carry on.
6 Lakeridge (8-4)
The Pacers last fall reached the quarterfinals for the second consecutive postseason. They won’t have an easy road to make it back, but they have 10 all-leaguers returning and a couple of high-profile transfers.
5 Central Catholic (14-0)
The Rams look to reload, not rebuild, as they seek a third consecutive state championship, doing so around junior QB Cru Newman, the reigning Mt. Hood offensive player of the year.
4 Sheldon (9-2)
Few teams have more returning stars than the Irish, and they added an impact transfer in senior DL Teitum Tuioti as they bid for their first state championship since 2012.
3 Tualatin (12-1)
The Ricky Bobby offense needs time to motor. It’ll be up to an offensive line replacing four starters to come together quickly enough for the Timberwolves to rev into fifth gear.
2 Jesuit (11-2)
A loaded nonleague schedule should prepare the Crusaders in their quest for a ninth consecutive Metro League title — and possibly a seventh state championship, which would be their first since 2015.
1 West Linn (11-2)
The offensive line must replace all five starters, but first-year coach Jon Eagle is confident the newcomers will provide the time needed for a loaded offense led by transfer senior QB Sam Leavitt, a Washington State commit, to overwhelm opponents.