Cascade Christian was a team last season defined by its substantial bulk.

Cascade Christian was a team last season defined by its substantial bulk.

That won't be the case this season.

"We're going to be quick," says Challengers' head coach Andy Maurer, now in his 18th season. "That's why us old coaches have decided to come back because you can't coach speed. We graduated all the big heavy guys we've had for two or three years. The speed game is what we will rely on."

The Challengers lose all but one from their starting offensive line, which averaged 250 pounds and helped the offense average around 45 points per game.

The lone returning starter is 6-foot-3, 223-pound senior tackle Matt Bohn.

First-team Class 3A all-state tackle Jacob Ayala, first-team all-Sunset League center Nick Zimmers, second-team all-Sunset tight end Justin Duchien and guard Ryan Palmer have graduated.

Tackle James Humphries, a three-year starter for Cascade Christian, is one of five players to recently transfer and will play at Phoenix.

Another hit for Cascade Christian came when three-year starter Daniel Kinney, a first-team all-league performer on both sides of the ball as a running back and linebacker, transferred to South Medford for his final season.

Gone, too, is assistant coach Brandon Boice, who is taking a year off from coaching.

"We've got to replace those guys and we are doing fine," Maurer says. "When people leave, it gives others an opportunity to play. We are very pleased with who we have."

Helping to ease the burden of those losses include offensive and defensive lineman Ryan Pech, who returns for his senior year after missing last season.

The Challengers speed begins with wing back Tyler Stickler, a sophomore, and junior Connor Kirkpatrick, both track athletes. Junior quarterback Colton Cochran and junior end Ben Joffer also return to guide the Challengers' run-oriented, double-wing offense.

"The philosophy is you have a good simple program and good athletes make it better," Maurer says.

Brandon Grissom, a 5-10, 160-pound junior outside linebacker, is the standout defensively on a unit that returns just four starters. Despite an injury-plagued season, Grissom made the all-Sunset League second-team list and will help ease the loss of a very productive linebacking corps from a year ago.

"He (Grissom) is quick and thinks quickly," Maurer says. "He plays linebacker like he's supposed to."

Bohn will lead the defensive line from his end position.

"Very seldom does he get out of position," Maurer says of Bohn.

A major concern for Maurer and Cascade Christian is depth and developing many of its younger players to contribute, which may determine if the Challengers make a return trip to the state playoffs.

Last season, Cascade Christian went 8-3 overall and 5-1 in the Sunset League, its first year at the Class 3A level.

"We're going to start at ground zero," Maurer says. "What we accomplished in the past was a different group. We have a new atmosphere and they are trying to establish their identity."

Reach sports reporter Luke Andrews at 776-4469, or e-mail landrews@mailtribune.com