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Southern Oregon football signs nine players

ASHLAND — Six high school seniors and three transfers have signed national letters of intent to play football at Southern Oregon University next Fall.

Prep standouts Zach Barge (South Medford), Tim Pinkerton (Grants Pass), Justin Avriett (Amador Valley), Brett Trimble (San Ramon Valley), Cole McKenzie (Red Bluff) and Wade Kittle (Red Bluff) all signed today.

Transfers Chad Draper (Modesto Junior College), Kevin Boden (Santa Ana College) and Ben Running (Eastern Oregon) will also join the Raiders in 2009.

Today is the first day that high school football plays can sign national letters of intent.

"I think this a great first step in our recruiting season," SOU head coach Steve Helminiak said. "We went out and signed a good group of quality people that are also quality athletes. The coaching staff did a great job of addressing some of our needs and being able to get that many high school seniors on the first day was huge for us."

Barge and Pinkerton both will stay close to home to play for the Raiders.

Barge, a 6-foot-7, 330-pound defensive lineman, was key to South Medford's playoff run and Southwest Conference championship.

He was an honorable mention Class 6A all-state selection in just his second season with the Panthers.

"His best football could be ahead of him if he desires that," South Medford coach Bill Singler said. "If he would have played football longer, he would have been more highly recruited. From the standpoint of knowing the game, he's still learning. He has unlimited potential."

Pinkerton (6-3, 250) earned all-conference honors last year at Grants Pass and is slated to fit in at defensive end for the Raiders.

McKenzie and Kittle come to SOU after successful playing careers at Red Bluff.

McKenzie (6-3, 180) finished his career as the second greatest receiver in school history. McKenzie went for 978 yards as a junior and 959 yards on 48 catches this past season. McKenzie was named all-section and all-league both years. Kittle (6-3, 260) played three years of varsity football for the Spartans at a variety of positions along the offensive line.

Trimble (5-9, 190) earned second team all-East Bay League honors last fall as the star running back at San Ramon Valley, while Avriett (6-5, 230) will play tight end for the Raiders after starting for Amador Valley his junior and senior seasons.

Draper (6-4, 230), who will be a junior, may be SOU's answer at quarterback. He had a celebrated career at Modesto Junior College where he played his freshman and sophomore seasons in 2006 and 2007.

Running (6-4, 240) will give the Raiders another option at quarterback. He graduated from North Medford in 2005 and signed to play at Eastern Oregon out of high school. Running played for the Mountaineers as a freshman in 2005 and, after taking some time away from school, is back in classes at SOU.

Local Recruiting Report

  • NORTH MEDFORD: Wide receiver Isaac Silafau is considering Southern Oregon, Western Oregon and Willamette, coach Jeff Olson said. Quarterback Jordan Ellis will likely field offers for basketball, instead of football, Olson added.
  • SOUTH MEDFORD: Wide receiver/defensive back Mitch Singler is still undecided between Linfield or walking on at Oregon State or Oregon. Running back/defensive back Daniel Kinney is set to visit Portland State this weekend and is also considering Southern Oregon and Western Oregon as well as University of Redlands in California. Running back Patrick Thibeault has visited California Lutheran University and met with coaches at Southern Oregon and Western Oregon. Steve Adams, the Panthers' starting right tackle, has fielded interest from Linfield and Southern Oregon University. Coach Bill Singler said other players may sign late with junior colleges.
  • ASHLAND: Coach Charlie Hall said quarterback Talon Haggard is looking at attending Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. Joe Hatch, an all-conference offensive lineman, is considering Southern Oregon. Hall added that wide receiver/defensive back Charlie Sebrell and brother Lewis Sebrell, a running back/linebacker, will mostly likely opt to play baseball at the next level.
  • CRATER: Running back/linebacker Kenny Fahndrich has fielded interest from Willamette, University of Redlands and Whittier College in California. Coach John Beck said Fahndrich is leaning toward Willamette. Tight end/linebacker Darrio Mobley and wide receiver Danny Mitchell are considering Monterey Peninsula College in California and Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif. Quarterback Josh Lokeno is meeting with coaches at Western Oregon on Friday and offensive tackle Cody Osuna is interested in Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas.
  • EAGLE POINT: Standout wide receiver/defensive back Garrett Davis would like to walk on at Oregon State and is in contact with Western Oregon, Willamette and Linfield. Coach Jacob Schauffler said Davis is also considering Azusa Pacific University in California. Lineman Austin Rowley will likely choose between Linfield and Willamette. Running back Anthony Jose is considering College of the Redwoods in California, as is linebacker Brian Martinez.
  • OTHER NOTABLES: North Valley lineman Paul Gutzman signed with Western Oregon.