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Ashland to honor Grizz with parade

ASHLAND -- Ashland High's Class 4A state championship football team will be honored with a downtown parade on Friday.

All players and coaches from the team, which won the school's third state title since last Saturday with a 29-23 victory in overtime over Roseburg at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, will be in the parade. It's scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. from the high school.

The parade will wind up and down Main Street and return to the school approximately 45 minutes later.

A few minutes later, players and coaches will be available for autograph sessions, photos and to meet their fans in a reception in the school's new indoor commons area.

The reception will start at 4:30 p.m., and the public is invited to attend. Punch and snacks will be served.

Prior to the parade, a member of the Oregon School Activities Association will join with Ashland's players and coaches in presenting the school's student body the state championship trophy, according to Ashland assistant athletic director Jerry Hauck.

The presentation will take place during a school assembly, which will start at — p.m. in the main gymnasium at Ashland High.

I think it's great we get a chance to thank all the fans who have been so supportive, says Ashland senior center Roger Walsh. They were behind us all season, and this is a chance to say thank you.

I remember when the 1989 team had a parade and reception after winning the state championship. I was a little kid then, and I was in awe of those guys, like Chad Cota and Matt Wells.

Matt came to our school and talked to us a few days later, says Walsh. He told us if we worked hard and dedicated ourselves to the football program, it would pay off for us some day. He was right.

Hauck says the Grizzlies are being treated as celebrities in the hallways of the school.

They can't seem to stop smiling, says Hauck. It's great to see.

This is special for these kids because nobody really expected them to do much. But they kept getting the job done and winning. They found a way to win every week.

The parade, reception and pep assembly are scheduled for Friday because Ashland head football coach Jim Nagel is in Las Vegas at an athletic director's conference. Nagel also coached Ashland to state championships in 1989 and 1991. His teams finished as the state runner-up in 1993 and '94.

They're a bunch of laid-back kids who wouldn't lose on the football team, says Hauck. I know they drove Jim (Nagel) crazy sometimes because they were laid back. But when it came time to play, they stepped up every time.

We didn't have a lot of easy games this year, says Ashland assistant coach Tim Brown. But you have to love these kids. They played hard and got it done.

I thought my most special state championship would end up being the one in 1991, because my son (Scott) played, says Brown. But this one is more special because these are great kids and nobody expected them to do much. Except the coaches and the kids.

Ashland wide receiver Jay Kuester, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass against Roseburg in the championship game from quarterback Jimmy Werbin in overtime, has been in a festive mood all week.

Somebody told me to quit smiling, says Kuester, smiling. But it's hard to stop. It's a great feeling.

I was coming out of a Seven-Eleven store the other day with a coke in my hand, and I ran into a guy I had never seen before. He knew me. He said, `Nice catch, man.'

I said thanks. I've been saying that a lot this week. It's fun.