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Spotlight on S.O. Renegades for 2012

The Southern Oregon Renegades are the only minor league adult football show in town this season, and they're hoping to stage a championship play.

Neither the Rogue Warriors nor the Klamath Crusaders are fielding a team this year, leaving the Renegades — who made a run all the way to last year's Pacific Football League title game — squarely in the spotlight.

That's just fine with Southern Oregon, which gained some additional depth when those other squads disbanded.

With their full roster of football-loving prospects, veterans and journeymen, the Renegades are aiming to build off the momentum of last season's championship push. So far, they are 1-1.

Southern Oregon beat the South Sound Shockers 17-13 to kick off its year and fell to the Grays Harbor Bearcats 24-21 last Saturday.

Last season, the Kitsap County Bears defeated the Renegades 28-14 in the conference title game in Bremerton, Wash. To get there, Southern Oregon topped the Springfield Buzzards 21-6 in the South Division championship.

The Renegades wrapped up the season 11-2.

This year, head coach and offensive coordinator Rockne DeMello guides a group that appears to have both a solid ground and aerial attack. The team returns veteran running backs Alvin Thornton and Andre Smith, along with former Crusader Leon Ireland — who led the league in rushing last year — and former Warriors Mike Robinson II, Tanny Flowers Sr. and Martin Mares.

"We have even more weapons this year," Thornton said.

Southern Oregon has several standout receivers, including Titan Mann, Ryan Lougheed, Isaac Wilson and Almeir Barlow.

Antoine Williams brings experience at the tight end spot.

Passing to them will be first-year player Anthony Gonzalez, a 23-year-old who played in Los Banos (Calif.). Thornton described Gonzalez as a "quick learner who has studied the game." Gonzalez has thrown four touchdown passes this season.

Ireland, who is also a standout defensively, will serve as the backup quarterback.

Nate Ellis, a North Valley High graduate who started at QB last year, went on to play at Gavilan College in Gilroy, Calif., and will transfer to College of the Siskiyous, DeMello said.

The defense is led by linebackers James Snyder, Garry Colbert and Sean Johnston, end Ruben Jones II, cornerback John Jones and safety Rylan Ancog.

The Renegades play in the six-team PFL South. The other members are the Portland Monarchs (2-0), South Lane Buzzards (2-1), Portland Raiders (2-1), Clark County Vipers (2-3) and Oregon Outlaws (1-1). The top four teams in each division will make the postseason, with the top North and South teams vying for the PFL crown and advancement to nationals.

"We've got the talent to make a run at the championship again," DeMello said.

Southern Oregon's home contests are played at Spiegelberg Stadium, with kickoffs at 6 p.m. The Renegades next host the Outlaws on Saturday.

The cost to attend a home game is $15 for a family of five, $8 for singles and $5 for those who bring two cans of food (which are donated to ACCESS).

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com