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Tornado juniors on elite list of prep stars

Getting on Tom Lemming's Top-100 list doesn't necessarily guarantee you're one of the top 100 football recruits in the country.

But you've got to figure you're better than the average all-conference pick if Lemming -ESPN's prep recruiting guru - has your phone number.

Two North Medford juniors - Dan Johnson and Travis Poulton - met with Lemming as he breezed in and out of town late last month on his nationwide tour and they were mentioned in the May 26 Recruiting Road postcard posted on the ESPN Web site.

Oregon's top prospect is running back Derry Jackson (6-foot, 187 pounds) of Jesuit in Portland, who compiled more than 2,000 rushing and receiving yards last season and is being nationally recruited. Other top prospects, along with Johnson and Poulton, are offensive lineman Derek Duff (6-3, 265) of Reynolds in Troutdale and tight end Joe Newton (6-7, 225) of Roseburg.

On the ESPN site, Johnson is noted for having an incredible SAT score, and Poulton is hailed as one of the hardest-hitting players in the state.

Lemming met with the two Tornadoes at the Holiday Inn Express.

"He asked us what we thought made us good football players," Johnson says. "Mostly, Travis and I talked about each other."

Lemming took photos of the duo in their jerseys, went over information passed on by college recruiters and then hit the road for the Bay Area.

Lemming's Top-100, which is regularly revised, appears on the Web. Come August, his Prep Football Report magazine will include Johnson and Poulton in its Top 200.

"I know it doesn't mean a whole lot - those magazines," Johnson says. "But it's pretty cool. Usually linemen don't get a whole lot of recognition, and that's neat in itself."

For the record, Johnson's SAT score is 1,520. That's good enough to draw attention from Northwestern University, which is ranked in at least one preseason football top 20.

May is the early contact period for NCAA recruiting and the Wildcats - who are the academic kingpins of the Big Ten much like Stanford is in the Pac-10 - wasted no time in sending a coach to talk with North Medford coaches about Johnson.

"They have to recruit all over like Stanford because it's tough to get kids admitted and to keep them (academically) eligible," Johnson says. "But I can handle that."

Clemson has also called Johnson, who admits that he'd like to hear from Cal and Stanford before the recruiting process is over.

Last Saturday and Sunday, Johnson and Poulton took part in the Nike and Oregon camps, both in Eugene.

"I did real well in the Nike camp and Travis got noticed at the Oregon camp, the day after," Johnson says. "Some Oregon coaches were talking to him, and that's really cool, because he'd like to stay in Oregon."

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TWO MORE Southern Oregon Conference softball coaches have stepped aside.

South Medford coach Duke Mondale has ended a 12-year tenure leading the Panther program, while Rick Anderson resigned after three years at Klamath Union.

"I think it's time for a change for both me and for South," says Mondale, who teaches at McLoughlin Middle School.

Mondale had two state playoff teams. His team won the SOC title in 1992 and was second in 1994. Prior to that, Mondale coached Sweet Home to the Class 3A state title in 1988.

"I think it's time to find somebody that can take the program in a different direction," Mondale says, "although I think we were building things back up."

He points out that the Amateur Softball Association feeder team, known as the Blue Aces, has solid clubs in the 12-and-under division and at ages 14-16.

Mondale says that he wanted to be more involved with what his two sons and daughter are doing.

"My own kids are going in three different directions, and it was tough for Tina, my wife, to do it all," Mondale says.

He plans to help out with his daughter Jessica's ASA team.

"I haven't lost interest in softball," he says. "And I haven't put to rest the idea that I may want to come back some day."

South Medford vice principal Paul Cataldo says interviews for a new coach should be wrapped up by the end of the week.

Anderson coached Klamath to a competitive level in his three years with the Pelicans.

But he was unable to duplicate the success he had at cross-town rival Mazama, where he coached the Vikings to the state playoffs four times and won the 1993 Class 4A championship.

* * *

ANDERSON'S DEPARTURE is just one of five head coaching changes at Klamath Union.

Marty Ledgerwood replaces boys soccer coach Garrett DeGroot, who left after 18 years.

Assistant coach Brandon Jensen succeeds Jack Sharp in the girls basketball program.

One of retiring baseball coach Dave Steen's assistants is expected to be announced as the new head coach today.

Klamath Union athletic director Barry Gottula hopes to name new cross country and softball coaches soon.

One position that won't turn over is football, even though coach Wayne Amos underwent quintuple bypass surgery in March at Rogue Valley Medical Center.

"My heart's fine," Amos said. "I just had bad arteries."

* * *

FORMER NORTH MEDFORD baseball coach Jim McAbee and current Grants Pass coach Stacy Morgan will pilot the state stars this weekend in the annual State-Metro Baseball Series at The Dalles.

Reach reporter at 776-4483, or e-mail