Crater High football coach John Beck isn't trying to hide what strategy he'll employ Friday when the Comets open their season against Wilsonville at Dutch Meyer Field.

Crater High football coach John Beck isn't trying to hide what strategy he'll employ Friday when the Comets open their season against Wilsonville at Dutch Meyer Field.

With four returning starters on an offensive line that averages 6-foot-31/2 and 270 pounds, the Comets will attempt to overpower and outmuscle the smaller Wildcats.

In other games involving local teams Friday, Henley visits Ashland, Eagle Point journeys to Madras and Grants Pass travels to Redmond. All games start at 7 p.m.

A game scheduled between Prospect and Butte Falls Saturday has been canceled.

Crater's beefy line is anchored by 6-foot-4, 317-pound guard Anthony Timmerman and 6-5, 300-pound center Tyson Hoffman. Timmerman was a first-team all-league selection in the Southern Sky Conference last season while Hoffman claimed second-team honors.

Tackles Jake Stone (5-11, 235, Sr.) and Adam Wasniewski (6-4, 240, Sr.) also return as starters. Cody Osuna (6-5, 265, sr.) is penciled in as the fifth starter.

"We want to come out and see if we can control the line of scrimmage," says Beck, whose Comets won the Southern Sky Conference last season and advanced to the state playoffs for the first time in 21 years. "Potentially, our line could be very good. Their pad level isn't as low as I'd like and they need to maintain their blocks longer, but it's a good group and I'm excited to see what they can do Friday."

Beck hopes his up-front bunch can make life comfortable for a talented but inexperienced group of skill position players. Other than senior wide receiver Bryce Peila, a second-team Southern Sky performer last season, the Comets will have new faces at the skill spots.

Senior Nick Brothers will open at quarterback, senior Zach Boskovich will line up at tailback, junior Dario Mobley will start at tight end and either junior Garrell Staten or senior Drew Runberg will get the call at wide receiver opposite Peila.

"Brothers really looks athletic out there," Beck says. "He's replacing an awfully good kid (Cory Staniforth) but Nick has good command of the offense and he's been throwing the ball accurately in practice."

Boskovich spent most of his time at rover back on defense a year ago but will now double as the Comets' starting tailback. However, speedy junior D.J. Pree is also expected to get a large number of carries.

Boskovich will join tackle Wasniewski, free safety Peila and linebacker Marcus Havniear in spearheading Crater's defense.

In Wilsonville, Crater will be meeting a team that went 11-2 and advanced to the Class 5A state semifinals a year ago.

The Wildcats return their top skill players and could give the Comets fits with their overall team speed.

Running back Morrie Conway and wide receiver Jesse Staub fuel Wilson's double-wing offense.

"Conway is probably our most improved player," says Wilsonville coach Doug Sommers of the 6-0, 180-pound senior. "He spent the off-season in the weight room and put on 15 pounds of muscle. He's always had good speed and great feet, but now he can be a physical runner, too."

Staub is a state champion javelin thrower and all-conference basketball player who shines on both sides of the ball.

Wilsonville has three other game-breakers in wide receiver Alec Jernstedt, wingback K.J. Larsen and running back Sean MacKelvie.

"We feel like we can put five very skilled athletes on the perimeter at one time," Sommers says.

MacKelvie is also one of the best punters and placekickers in the state. He banged through five straight field goals from 55 yards in a practice earlier this week, Sommers says.

"He's a 6-4 high jumper who power cleans 260 pounds," adds Sommers. "He's a heck of an athlete."

Up front, the Wildcats are led by 6-4, 275-pound junior tackle Evan Bany, guard Jack Leineweber and center Justin Howe.

Wilsonville figures to be a much tougher opponent than Summit, the team Crater opened with and demolished last season, but Beck wants it that way.

The Comets tackle another Northwest Oregon Conference heavyweight — Sherwood — the following week.

"We've upgraded our schedule to get ready for the league season and hopefully make a playoff run," Beck says.

Ashland, meanwhile, hopes to kick-start its season with a win over Henley.

Like Crater, the Grizzlies boast a huge offensive line that's led by 6-8, 325-pound Matt Lipski.

Six of Ashland's starters played on an American Legion baseball team that traveled to Alaska for a regional tournament earlier this month. To get in the required number of practices, coach Charlie Hall had to get permission from the Ashland school district to put the Grizzlies through a Sunday workout.

The players include starting tailback Lewis Sebrell, wide receivers Charlie Sebrell and Sam Gaviglio, center Luke Jannusch and linebacker Max Gordon.

"They're some of our best players — we have to have them to be truly competitive," Hall says.

Ashland has already played a non-counting game when it met a Japanese all-star team on July 27. The Grizzlies lost 28-21 but made a strong showing.

Hall says the Grizz will run the ball extensively behind its big line, and that could mean Lewis Sebrell is headed for a big season. He ran for over 100 yards in his only start last season before breaking a leg and also went over the century mark against the Japanese All-Stars.

Henley, a Class 4A school, went 7-4 last season and advanced to the state playoffs.

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