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Meet the new stars of Oregon high school football: Quarterbacks

Which players broke through at the quarterback position in 2022?

By René Ferrán | Photo by Soobum Im  

Early this season, we took a position-by-position look at some of the top players in Oregon high school football:

QB | RB | WR | TE | C | G | T | DE | DT | LB | CB | S | K/P

Late in the season, we asked coaches to tell us about players who weren’t on our original lists but who stepped up and became major contributors this fall. This week, we will highlight those players. 

Statistics are as of Week 8

QUARTERBACKS

QB/FS Connor Crum, Mountain View, Jr.

Cougars coach Brian Crum turned to his son after a broken collarbone sidelined all-conference QB Jakoby Moss midway through last season. Connor took big strides in his second season, leading the team to a 5-2 start while completing 65% of his passes (102 of 157) for 1,295 yards and 16 touchdowns with just one interception — one fewer than the two he’d made defensively. “I knew he was good, but Connor has turned into the driver of our offense and one of the best quarterbacks in the region,” Brian Crum said. “He makes great decisions and makes plays while getting us into what we need to be in. Makes my job easy.”

QB Liam Davis, Lake Oswego, So.

Davis started the season as the backup to junior Max Brauner, but he took over the job in Week 4 and threw for 627 yards and six touchdowns through three-plus games, and he rushed for 185 yards and two scores.

QB Jackson Gibeau, Marist Catholic, Sr.

Gibeau beat out Blake Herring for the starting job this season and made the most of his opportunity, leading the Spartans to a 6-1 start, throwing for 822 yards and 11 touchdowns with just one interception while completing more than 71% of his passes (50 of 70).

QB Kaden Hale, Forest Grove, Jr.

Hale became a starter last fall, but it was during this season that he broke through to become the focal point of the offense. He led the team in rushing through seven weeks with 382 yards and six TDs on 100 carries, and he completed 61.9% of his passes (117 for 189) for 1,430 yards and 15 touchdowns. “Kaden is a dynamic dual-threat quarterback who defenses are having a hard time trying to contain,” coach Cam McFarland said.

QB/DB Wyatt Holliday, Colton, So.

A year ago, Holliday watched from the sideline after knee surgery as Colton finished a 4-4 season. This year, he nabbed the starting job behind center and led the Vikings to their first league title since 1984, accounting for 24 touchdowns and rushing for 180 yards through seven games. “He runs and throws the ball like nothing ever happened,” coach Jason Stewart said. “He’s a remarkable kid.”

QB Alex Ingalls, Mountainside, Jr.

Mavericks coach John Mannion had high hopes that Ingalls could take over for his son, Brian Mannion, who started for three seasons behind center. Ingalls delivered, throwing for 979 yards and 12 touchdowns during their 7-0 start.

QB Tyler Knapp, Enterprise, So.

Knapp was amid a breakthrough season through five games, completing two-third of his passes (64 of 96) for 1,123 yards and 17 touchdowns (two interceptions) before suffering a season-ending injury on the third offensive snap of the Outlaws’ Week 6 loss to Crane. Still, coach Josh Harman expects big things from him when he returns for his final two seasons. “Tyler has a big arm and excellent vision, and his emergence really opened up our offense as he was distributing the ball to 7-8 different players per game,” Harman said.

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QB Christian Lyda, Banks, Sr.

Lyda, an all-league defensive back for Banks last season, took over as the starting quarterback following a solid second half in Week 2 against Tillamook. The 5-11, 165-pounder has blossomed, completing 53 of 83 passes for 916 yards and nine touchdowns with four interceptions in his first four starts.

QB/LB Kaden Muir, Philomath, Jr.

Muir took over as the starting quarterback this year and had a solid first season, throwing for 645 yards and six touchdowns with seven interceptions. The 5-11, 195-pounder also starts at middle linebacker and is the team’s punter (29.1-yard average). “Kaden is the heart and soul of our offense,” coach Alex Firth said. “As a quarterback, he provides a steady hand and executes the offense. He is the son of a coach, so he sees the field and understands the game in total. On defense, he is a relentless linebacker, and the same qualities that make him successful at quarterback make him successful defensively.”

QB Max Nowlin, Scappoose, So.

Nowlin started the season sharing time behind center with junior Leland Boswell, but after Boswell suffered a season-ending injury in Week 3, Nowlin took over full-time duties and guided Scappoose to a Class 4A playoff berth. Through seven games, the 6-4, 175-pounder completed 105 of 153 passes for 1,097 yards and 15 touchdowns with five interceptions. “Max has done an excellent job in picking up the offense and leading the team,” coach Sean McNabb said. “I have been very impressed with his poise and leadership.”

QB Drew Nees, Sunset, Jr.

The 6-1, 180-pounder emerged from a three-way quarterback battle, and through seven weeks, he justified coach Damien Merrick’s decision with solid play behind center, completing 68% of his passes (139 of 204) for 1,425 yards and 12 touchdowns. He rushed for 212 yards and two TDs, averaged 30 yards per punt on 20 punts, put eight of 27 kickoffs into the end zone and kicked 17 PATs and a field goal. “He has become the leader we coaches knew he could be and that this team needed him to be,” Merrick said. “We ask a lot of him in terms of reads at the line of scrimmage, and he never appears overwhelmed.”

QB Trevor O’Leary, Glencoe, Jr.

O’Leary took over the starting job this year and while his passing numbers were so-so (37 of 83, 487 yards, four touchdowns) through seven weeks, he was second in the Pacific Conference with 947 yards and seven touchdowns on 152 carries. “Trevor has been a great runner for us,” Crimson Tide coach Ian Reynoso said. “He has been solid with his decision-making for the season and has done a great job spreading the ball to those that he feels can help our goal as a team.”

QB Athan Palmateer, Sprague, Jr.

Palmateer transferred from South Salem in the summer and took over the starting job for the Olympians. Through seven games, he’d completed more than 60% of his passes (58 of 96) for 736 yards and eight touchdowns. “He has progressed quite a bit from the time he came in,” coach Jay Minyard said.

QB/LB Colby Parosa, Sheldon, Jr.

Parosa has become a starter in the secondary for the Irish (14 tackles), but it’s his potential as a quarterback that has intrigued coach Josh Line and his staff. He backs up all-state senior Brock Thomas but works daily with quarterbacks coach Jordan Johnson, awaiting his turn to take the reins. “Colby has really improved this season as a quarterback,” Line said. “We are really excited about what Colby will bring to the table next season.”

QB Diego Rodriguez, Ontario, So.

Rodriguez (6-1, 170) made the all-Greater Oregon League team at receiver as a freshman but transitioned back to quarterback this year, throwing for 1,755 yards and 19 touchdowns with just five interceptions through six games. “Any coach can tell you that an enormous part of a team’s success comes from the leadership and play of the quarterback,” coach Greg Simmons said. “Diego has done some great things for our team in both of those aspects so far, and he’s benefited from some tremendous athletes around him.”

QB Gavin Sandoval, Crook County, So.

Sandoval wasn’t ticketed to start at quarterback when camp began, but slowly, surely, he forced coach Pard Smith’s hand, and by the season opener, he’d moved last year’s starter, Palmer Smith, to running back and taken over behind center. Through seven weeks, Sandoval had thrown for 1,020 yards and six touchdowns, completing 61.7% of his passes (71 for 115), and had the Cowboys in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2015. “He throws the heck out of the ball,” Coach Smith said. “He is calm and level-headed, makes good reads. He makes plays and can make the hard throws.”

QB Ben Schneider, Oregon City, So.

Schneider entered the season with only a handful of varsity snaps after directing the freshman team last year. The 6-0, 180-pounder has hardly looked like a newcomer this season, leading the Pioneers to their first Three Rivers League victory since 2018 in Week 7 and completing 68% of his passes (120 of 177) for 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns with just three interceptions through seven games. Coach Shane Hedrick explained how Schneider met weekly during the offseason with his son, quarterbacks coach Grant Hedrick, discussing the offense and the ins and outs of playing quarterback, also working on mechanics when the weather permitted. “His efforts on and off the field have made him a very good quarterback on a much improved team, and we are very excited about his future,” Shane Hedrick said.

QB Sawyer Teeney, Silverton, So.

Teeney had the unenviable task of replacing 5A offensive player of the year Jordan McCarty at quarterback, and through seven games, he’d handled the pressure, throwing for 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns with just three interceptions. “He shows a ton of poise and has made some clutch plays in critical moments,” Foxes coach Dan Lever said. “He has a really bright future.”

QB/CB Cruz Veliz, Woodburn, So.

A year ago, Veliz was directing the JV team, biding his time behind Kaleb Robles. While Robles returned this season, Veliz’s potential proved too much to hold back, and he directed the Bulldogs to a 6-1 start. Besides accounting for 600 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns in the wing-T, he also has 18 tackles (three for loss) and three interceptions at cornerback, averages 36.5 yards per punt and is 24 for 26 on PATs.

QB/LB Seth Wehinger, Tillamook, Jr.

Wehinger backs up junior Tanner Hoskins at quarterback, serving as a change-of-pace player behind center who has run for 204 yards and five touchdowns on 29 carries. The 5-11, 195-pounder also has made 14 tackles as a backup linebacker. “He runs the football well, has good command of the offense, can throw — he can do a little bit of everything,” Cheesemakers coach Kye Johnson said. “He’s really crafted a role for himself as being a hard-nosed runner and plays a ton on special teams and when we're in certain defensive sets.”