Renegades ready to rock

Southern Oregon ranked seventh out of 28 teams in the GNFA preseason poll
Running back Andre Smith (10) looks for room during a recent Southern Oregon Renegades practice. Smith is a returning player for the Medford semi-pro team that opens its season Saturday in Hillsboro.Larry Stauth

Their website looks sparkling new, but the Southern Oregon Renegades' roster appears fairly familiar.

Rockne DeMello, the head coach of Medford's semi-professional Pacific Football League team, is pleased with his online and on-field situations.

SOUTHERN OREGON RENEGADES

WHO: Medford's semi-professional Pacific Football League team.

  • UP NEXT: Season opener: April 13, Southern Oregon vs. Bellingham. Home opener: April 20, South Lane at Southern Oregon, 6 p.m., Spiegelberg Stadium.
  • INFORMATION: www.southernoregonrenegades.org.

"We are looking good right now," he said.

The squad includes mostly returners, including several starters, and intriguing newcomers. In the Greater Northwest Football Association preseason poll, the Renegades were ranked seventh among the 28 teams in the PFL, Western Washington Football Alliance and the Washington Football League.

As for the website, southernoregonrenegades.org? DeMello and his wife stayed up until 3 a.m. for three straight nights working on it. The page features a countdown to Southern Oregon's season opener (Saturday) and a Twitter feed.

The team itself is a work in progress.

"We're still putting the puzzle together," said DeMello, whose squad begins the 2013 season against league runner-up Bellingham at the Border Wars in Hillsboro. "But we've got a lot of athletic ability on the team."

Southern Oregon will play the South Lane Buzzards in its home opener at Spiegelberg Stadium on April 20. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

Last season, the Renegades lost to the Portland Monarchs 28-0 in the playoffs and finished 6-3.

The squad's proven returners include explosive running backs Alvin Thornton, Leon Ireland and Andre Smith and wrecking ball fullback Mike Robinson II. New quarterback Dylan Lubonski and last year's starting signal caller, Anthony Gonzalez, will be in a two-quarterback rotation.


They'll operate in a different offense — the pistol — this year. DeMello said the club needed a change.

"We've been in the same offense all these years and decided to go with a different look," DeMello said.

Lubonski, who is about 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, is a 2010 North Eugene High graduate who has local roots.

Key receivers include Isaac Wilson, Weston Gibson and Daniel Welcome. Antoine Williams and Steve Adams play tight end.

Providing the protection on the offensive line will be players like Kyle Gaines and Chava Haro.

Standouts on defense include ends CJ Reyes and Adams, tackle Mike Bishop, linebackers Sean Johnson, James Snyder and Ireland and defensive backs Johnny Jones, Gage Jacobson and Bruce Franklin.

Thornton has healed up well from a serious leg injury and Ireland — one the league's offensive leaders — returned with even greater strength after tough offseason conditioning, DeMello said.

All of them paid $300 to participate, with half going toward a uniform that they get to keep and the other half toward officiating and stadium maintenance costs. They carpool to most road games, eat fast food often and frequently adjust their work and home schedules to accommodate the season.

In short, there is very little that is glamorous about this brand of ball.


First up is the Border Wars, which pits three Washington teams in the PFL against three Oregon squads.

The Renegades will continue their annual tradition of honoring former player Kris Butler — who died in a car accident when he was 21 — with the K41 Skittlez Bowl. A date for the philanthropic game has not been determined.

The regular season wraps up with a home contest against the Portland Raiders on June 15 and road contests against the Seattle Stallions and the defending league champion Portland Monarchs.

The first round of the playoffs begins July 13, with the PFL title contest set for July 20.

The Monarchs are ranked first in the preseason poll, followed by fellow PFL squads the Seattle Stallions, Bellingham Bulldogs and Yakima Mavericks.

Admission for a Renagades home game is $8 per person or $15 for a family of five or more. Those who are 7 or younger get in free.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com



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