PREP FOOTBALL

Returning stars give hope to Crater


Mail Tribune
August 26, 2012

COMETS GLANCE

HEAD COACH
John Beck
(Ninth year, 43-42; career 71-49)
No team in the Southwest Conference returns as many starters as Crater, which earns its highest preseason placement since moving to the 6A level in 2010. The Comets last conference title in the largest classification came in 1985 when it shared the SOC crown with Medford and Roseburg.
general information
ASSISTANTS: David Douglas (offensive coordinator), Brad Eaton (offensive/defensive line), Jim Bosworth (linebackers/tight ends), Ben Running (quarterbacks), Austin Cantrell (defensive backs), Dave Eldred (kickers), Dave Delgado (football operations), Jim Powell (head JV coach), Josh Mcomber (JV), Paul Sweeny (JV), Damian Schubert (JV), Darren Turituri (JV), Eric Perrson (JV), Tommy Malott (JV), Greg Haga (head freshman), Sam Carpenter (freshman), J.R. Godley (freshman), Shane Young (freshman), Travis Holden (freshman).
2011 LEAGUE RECORD: 3-4 (fifth, SWC).
2011 OVERALL RECORD: 6-5.
PREDICTED FINISH THIS YEAR: Third.
2011 results
Crater Opponents
54 McNary 15
48 McMinnville 0
27 Thurston 46
14 South Medford 42
62 South Eugene 7
0 Sheldon 42
68 North Medford 13
27 Grants Pass 7
35 Roseburg 55
State Play-in
36 Beaverton 7
State Playoffs
22 Oregon City 45
returning starters
OFFENSE (9): Tight end Derrick Turituri (6-2, 230, sr.), quarterback Chase Mackey (6-4, 185, sr.), running back Ty Wolf (6-0, 210, sr.), receiver Kory Bennett (5-10, 170, jr.), receiver/placekicker Dakota Massey (5-8, 150, sr.), receiver RJ Morgan (6-2, 215, sr.), tackle Micah Thomas (6-3, 205, sr.), tackle Mac Mega (6-2, 215, sr.), left guard Chase Hamilton (6-1, 218, sr.).
DEFENSE (7): Outside linebacker Derrick Turituri, safety RJ Morgan, linebacker/punter Ty Wolf, noseguard Sal Flores (5-7, 215, sr.), defensive end Eduardo Duran (6-0, 195, sr.), defensive end Michael Crippen (5-10, 230, sr.), cornerback Andrew Horton (5-9, 160, sr.).
other notables
Center/defensive tackle Mitch Lawson (6-1, 220, sr.), running back/linebacker Carlos Higuerra (6-1, 200, jr.), running back/linebacker Blake Fahndrich (6-1, 198, jr.), cornerback Hector Villa (5-10, 145, sr.), safety Davey McCollum (6-1, 190, jr.), quarterback/linebacker Ty Fox (6-2, 200, jr.), receiver/placekicker Austin Crider 6-9, 150, jr.).
2012 schedule
Aug. 31 at Tualatin, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 OREGON CITY, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 ROSEBURG, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 at Grants Pass, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 NORTH MEDFORD, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 at Sheldon, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Thurston, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 SOUTH EUGENE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 at South Medford, 7 p.m.

CENTRAL POINT — No team in the Southwest Conference returns as many starters on each side of the ball as the Crater Comets, but that's not stopping head coach John Beck from downplaying his team's outlook for the football season.

"We're just kinda hoping to be competitive and try to play hard every game and see how we do," said the ninth-year Crater coach. "You never know in this league."

Whatever concerns Beck may foster — and there truly aren't many — they're not shared by the rest of the SWC coaches, who have picked the Comets to finish third behind Sheldon and South Medford in the preseason coaches poll.

Headlining the list of returners for Crater are senior two-way performers Derrick Turituri and RJ Morgan, who have each given verbal commitments to the University of Arizona. Both expect to spearhead a defense that brings back seven starters and boasts quality depth at each level.

Turituri is a 6-foot-21/2, 230-pound force at outside linebacker, with the power to overwhelm linemen in the trenches and the speed to gain ground on any ballcarrier. He was a first-team all-SWC selection on both sides of the ball last year.

Morgan worked hard to improve his status in the offseason and comes in at 6-2 and 215 pounds as a safety that can also roll down and play linebacker.

While both players are excited about their futures, Morgan said neither is interested in concentrating on those prospects just yet.

"Every time I talk about (Arizona) I get excited and stuff but I'm not going to say now that I have that scholarship I'm not going to play my hardest because that would take away from my team now," said Morgan. "I'll think about what's going to be in the future. Right now I know I need to be the best athlete I can be to help my team. I'm just so focused on ending my high school career on a good note."

With so much talent surrounding the future Wildcats, such aspirations are entirely possible for the Comets.

Senior Ty Wolf (6-0, 210) returns at linebacker and the defensive line is in good hands with senior returners Sal Flores (5-7, 215), Michael Crippen (5-10, 230) and Eduardo Duran (6-0, 195). In the secondary, senior cornerback Andrew Horton (5-9, 160) returns to the starting lineup.

Rounding out a defense that aims to improve on last year's 330 yards and 25 points allowed per game will be linebackers Carlos Higuerra, Blake Fahndrich and Ty Fox and safety Davey McCollum.

"We've got a couple guys returning and a couple kids that are pretty decent," Beck said of his defense. "We can run around a little bit."

Quarterback Chase Mackey will get back behind the center after a junior campaign that was rocked by bouts with mononucleosis and tonsillitis and cost him about half of the season. Even with the lost time, Mackey was still able to run for more than 150 yards and two scores and complete 44 of 80 passes for 576 yards and five TDs.

"He's a pretty good athlete and he doesn't let things affect him," said Beck. "He's pretty calm and cool. We're hoping he's through with all those illnesses and can stay healthy for us."

Wolf's presence will certainly help provide balance to the Crater attack. He was the fifth-leading rusher in the SWC with 536 yards on 75 carries (7.1 yards per carry) during a regular season that saw six Comets eclipse 100 yards rushing.

"He's a physical runner and has got pretty good speed," said Beck. "He's a very intelligent runner."

Higuerra and Fahndrich will provide backfield depth to help move the chains, with Turituri and fleet-footed receiver Kory Bennett also capable of gaining large chunks of real estate at a time. Turituri and Bennett will be joined on the perimeter by returning starter Dakota Massey to give Mackey plenty of options when he chooses to air it out.

All things on offense will be made possible thanks to the return of starting senior linemen Micah Thomas (6-3, 205), Mac Mega (6-2, 215) and Chase Hamilton (6-1, 218), with senior center Mitch Lawson (6-1, 220) also charged with helping push back the defense.

Special teams could also be considered a strength for the Comets thanks to the return of Massey and Wolf, who were also second-team all-SWC selections last season at placekicker and punter, respectively.

With almost two dozen varsity returners — nine starters on offense and seven on defense — Beck said the main ingredient for his team to take the next step in its third season at the 6A level will be in taking care of the little things that matter most.

"We need to execute better on both sides of the ball to be competitive with the teams we're going to face," he said. "No matter who we're playing, in our conference or outside of our conference, for us just to be competitive with these teams we've got to really execute at a super high level."

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry