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Powell takes over as Crater coach

Jim Powell was not looking to alter his status quo.

Powell, 45, was content being a two-sport assistant coach at Crater High.

But his status changed when long-time Comet baseball coach Chuck Dominiak unexpectedly resigned late last year.

At first, Powell was reluctant to apply for the opening.

He was concerned about balancing the added demands of being a head coach with his responsibilities to his wife, 13-year-old son and fourth-grade daughter.

But after encouragement to throw his hat into the ring from Crater staff, community members and Comet players, the former Marine helicopter pilot was selected as an interim replacement last week.

I did not want to be the head baseball coach at Crater, says Powell. I'm not sure if I'm ready to do that for more than this year. It's a huge undertaking.

Another one of Powell's reservations about taking the job on a permanent basis is his first love ' football.

The big thing is I want to coach football, says Powell. If I did take the head coaching job in baseball, I would have to drop football. I don't think I want to do both.

Crater Athletic Director Dan Speasl said Powell agreed to do what was best for the program at this time.

He had the JV program, which was real successful, said Speasl. He knows how to develop kids, and the kids love him. There won't be a big change in how baseball is taught. The kids are happy there's continuity.

Powell understands it will not be easy following Dominiak's successful 19-year coaching reign. Under the 53-year-old Dominiak, Crater reached the state playoffs 15 times, winning the state title in 2000. The Comets posted six consecutive 20 win seasons from 1996 to 2001.

I know what I'm stepping in to, says Powell. Coaching under Chuck for 10 years, I've seen what it takes. Probably the biggest benefit I picked up from him is how to run a practice.

Powell, a graduate of David Douglas High in Portland and Linfield College, was the head football and baseball coach at St. Mary's from 1989 to 1993. He began teaching and coaching at Crater in the fall of 1993.

While at St. Mary's, Powell modeled himself after Dominiak ' watching Crater's practices and incorporating those techniques in his Class 2A program.

Powell plans to keep the present Comet system in place.

I've seen the kids prepared by Chuck, says Powell. I don't know any different way than the way Chuck has done it. I'll bring consistency. There will be no big changes.

Colin Schoonover is one of four returning core varsity players Powell inherits. Schoonover, who played for Powell as a sophomore, was the starting shortstop on last year's 17-10 team, which finished third in the SOC before losing in the opening round of the state playoffs to Canby.

Schoonover is positive with the choice of Powell taking over the program.

I actually prefer him coming in because we won't have to change a whole lot of the things that we do, says Schoonover. He's a little more laid back. When you're at the field, he only expects hard work. He's a fun guy to be around, but when you come to the field, it's all business.

Ray Smith, a former North Medford baseball standout, returns as an assistant coach and 1995 Crater graduate Aaron Allen is a new member to the varsity staff.

Powell has been so busy with detail work ' preparing the field, getting equipment sorted and dealing with paper work ' that the pressure of the job really hasn't hit yet.

I don't have big goals for this season because it's inherent in the program that we expect to get to the playoffs, says Powell. The kids in the program know what it takes. I have to get them ready. I'm fully aware that the tradition needs to be maintained.

At least for one more year.

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 776-4480, or e-mail