Three headlines dominate eight-man District 2 football: Camas Valley gunning for its third straight Class 1A state championship, Triad moving on without its record-breaking star Gabe Ovgard and everybody else in the busy nine-team league trying desperately to lasso one of just two playoff spots.
District 2 coaches agreed that Camas Valley will win the league crown and advance to a fourth consecutive state championship game. The Hornets return a buffet of all-state talents, including senior running back/wide receiver/defensive back Caleb Lindsey, junior running back/receiver/linebacker Kai Wolfe, senior receiver/running back Weston Tilton and senior defensive end Matt Thompson.
Thompson is the only member of the team who has competed in the last three 1A championship contests, playing every position on offense except quarterback last year. That role was filled by Josh Mattox, who returns for his senior campaign under center.
The squad graduated a couple of key players, including all-state linemen Kila Peck and Eli Wolfe.
Triad will be without the services of Ovgard, the standout quarterback/running back who transferred to Klamath Union. That said, the Timberwolves appear a good bet to secure the other playoff spot with seven seniors with starting experience. Returning impact players include senior quarterback/linebacker Austin McGrew, senior wide receiver/cornerback Zach McCarty and senior lineman Blake Trumbull.
"We wish the best for Gabe, but we have to move on," Triad head coach Kyle Petrick said. "Yes, we did lose a great player, but we have a number of players who are great. We'll be just fine."
The Timberwolves gained some fame last fall when they beat Elkton, 106-66.
After Camas Valley and Triad, it is anybody's guess how the others may fare. Three state playoff berths were available last year, but just two this season.
"It is going to be a dog fight with the middle-pack teams," Camas Valley head coach Eli Wolfe said.
Powers is a junior-loaded squad with plenty of starting experience and a strong freshman class. Standouts include junior quarterback Ty Jackson, freshman running back/quarterback Jackson Stallard, senior running back Clayton Stallard and center Jaron McDonald.
At Elkton, the Elks will be led by fourth-year starting quarterback John Evoniuk, who passed for 2,000 yards last year. Senior running back/linebacker Robbie Done is another player to watch.
Traditionally strong, Hosanna Christian is inexperienced this year with 11 freshmen. Senior running back/linebacker Trent Balin, junior wide receiver/free safety Austin Trembley, senior center Chris Duton and right guard Joey Roundtree will guide the way.
The North Lake roster includes nine sophomores and four freshmen.