North Medford High wrestling coach Phillip Lopez isn't the type to get carried away.
Darren Kinyon was really looking to take over the Butte Falls Middle School football program after experiencing success coaching Upper Rogue Pop Warner youth teams for more than a decade.
But when Butte Falls veteran coach Randy Stephenson stepped down this summer after a nine-year stint, the 48-year-old Bay Area native couldn't pass up the top varsity job.
"It's something I've always wanted to do — build a sports program," says Kinyon, who grew up in a football coaching family.
Now the Eagle Point public works specialist is tackling a big challenge and getting a chance to test that desire.
After losing just one District 2 game from 2007-09, the Logger program has struggled getting enough players to field a team and posting a 4-15 record the past two years. Last season, the Loggers didn't win a game on the field but were awarded two forfeits because rival Prospect used an ineligible player.
"With smaller schools you have to get more than just the kids that are football players interested," says Kinyon. "We've almost doubled our roster and that should definitely make a difference. We've held camps to get kids involved and I welcomed the community into the program."
Kinyon has a solid nucleus with seniors Jared McGonagle and Cameron Marley and junior Alex Cool-Hunsaker.
Jared McGonagle returns as a three-year starting lineman on both sides of the ball.
"(McGonagle) is as strong as an ox," says Kinyon. "I'll put him up against anybody."
Alex Cool-Hunsaker will assume quarterback duty after playing a variety of positions in the past. Kinyon likes Hunsaker's leadership, demeanor and running skills.
Marley and sophomore Will Bateman provide a contrast and will be looked to carry the load offensively. Marley — the team's fastest player — gives the offense explosiveness, while Bateman is a power runner.
Up front sophomores Luke McGonagle and Mike McNabb provide decent size, speed and experience.
"We're going to take advantage of the strength and speed on our offensive line," explains Kinyon. "We want to control the ball, control the clock and grind it out."
When the Loggers go to the air, Evan Givins and Coltin Hanson will be the primary targets. Hanson spent part of the summer with the national guard and reported in tip-top shape.
Defensively, the same cast of characters — both McGonagles, Alex Cool-Hunsaker and Marley — are expected to be impact players.
"We've really been working on our quickness," says Kinyon. "It's a wide open field and I want my linemen to be able to reach the outside. There's no doubt we can hold our own in the trenches."
For Kinyon, it's the complete experience that is paramount.
The first-year coach is not fixated on wins or losses: "My main goal is to teach these kids to play. We're serious but it's important to have a good time. Winning will come naturally when you have fun."
Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480, or email firstname.lastname@example.org