ASHLAND — For someone who didn't play football as a high school junior, Derek Hogenson has come a long way in a short time.

ASHLAND — For someone who didn't play football as a high school junior, Derek Hogenson has come a long way in a short time.

The recent Crater High graduate, who earned second-team all-state honors at the Class 5A level and played in the Les Schwab Bowl last Saturday, signed a letter-of-intent to play at Southern Oregon University on Wednesday.

"He's one of those kids who goes full-speed ahead at whatever he does," said Crater coach John Beck. "He was our hardest worker in the weight room last season, and on the football field he had a motor that never slowed down."

Hogenson, a rover back who will likely play safety at SOU, was overshadowed by Crater's golden set of skill position players last fall: running back Charlie Reina, wide receiver Tyler Davis and quarterback Cory Staniforth. But the 5-foot-10, 180-pound defensive back unceremoniously logged an outstanding season, leading the team in tackles (138) as the Comets won their first conference title in 21 years and advanced to the state playoffs.

"I think my work ethic and my heart are my biggest assets," said Hogenson. "Whether it's practice or a game, I'm going out there with a great desire to succeed.

"It's the same way in the classroom. I'm not the smartest guy but I worked my tail off to get good grades."

Hogenson held his own for the South all-stars at last Saturday's Les Schwab Bowl in Portland, even though the North all-stars romped to a 42-13 win.

"I felt like I played one of my better games," he said. "The game was faster than anything I've seen — probably similar to what I'll be seeing at Southern Oregon — but I thought I did some good things.

"And it was just a great atmosphere. The players were first-class guys."

Hogenson didn't play football at Crater when he was a junior, opting instead to get a job seal-coating parking lots.

"I got caught up with making a bunch of money but I knew it was a mistake as soon as the season started," said Hogenson. "I missed playing football."

Hogenson made up for lost time in the spring of his junior year, attending off-season conditioning workouts and hitting the weight room. Over the next year he tied a record for power cleans, lifting 285 pounds, and hoisted 195 pounds over his head for a snatch mark that only one other player exceeded.

"I hate losing — even in the weight room," Hogenson said.

Hogenson was recruited by Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., College of the Siskiyous in Weed, Calif., and Lindenwood University in St. Charles Mo., but elected to stay close to home. His career goal is to become a firefighter.

In the short term, he hopes to spark a rebuilding Raider football team.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail dhunt@mailtribune.com