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Bohn gets his chance at Phoenix

PHOENIX — Justin Bohn had to wait longer than he would have liked to be the quarterback at Phoenix High.

Bohn couldn't displace three-year Pirate starter and 2009 Skyline Conference offensive player of the year Chris Kammel. So the talented 17-year-old senior made the best of the situation and became a first-team all-Skyline Conference wide receiver and defensive back.

Bohn enjoyed catching passes and admitted that playing receiver will help him in his new role. But now he's excited to be at his natural position.

"I played quarterback all my life," said 6-foot, 165-pounder native following a morning workout during the opening week of practice. "I know what receivers are looking for now."

Bohn's performance last year — catching 27 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns and making six interceptions and returning two for touchdowns — was pivotal in a reversal of fortunes for the Pirates.

Phoenix went from a winless conference season and last place in 2008 to the Skyline championship and advancing all the way to the Class 4A state semifinals in 2009 under first-year coach Toby Walker.

Bohn's transition into the Pirates' spread offense should be seamless, according to Phoenix offensive coordinator Doug Elam.

"(Bohn) is probably a little better ball carrier (than Kammel)," said Elam. "He's a guy that can tuck it and run. Some of our best plays might be broken plays."

And Bohn shouldn't have much difficulty finding the Pirates' top pass-catching option — Austin Toney.

"(Bohn) has been throwing me the ball since we were little kids," said Toney, who was a second-team all-conference selection at both wide receiver and defensive back in his first varsity season.

The lanky Toney (6-2, 170) has the height, speed and pass-catching ability to go up and get the ball over defensive backs.

"Austin Toney will be a big-play receiver," said Walker. "He's one of the fastest guys on the team. He has solid hands and runs great routes."

Bohn also has a big target in possession receiver Kyle Treadway, who stands 6-5 and weighs 245 pounds.

The bulk of the running chores will be handled by returning starter Jason Adams and senior Jason Gage. The Pirates would have even been more potent at running back but senior Matt Lapat was ruled ineligible by the OSAA because he turned 19 in May. The ruling is being appealed, but the Pirates' staff is not optimistic about a reversal.

Walker plans to take advantage of the different styles Adams and Gage bring to the offense. Adams is a slashing runner who has the quickness to find a seam, while Gage (5-10, 185) is the more powerful ball carrier.

Even though the Pirates possess a versatile cadre of skill position players, Walker is more excited about what Phoenix returns in the trenches.

"Our line — both offensive and defensive — is definitely our strength," said Walker, who doubles as the Pirates' defensive coordinator. "When you win the battle up front, that's usually reflected on the scoreboard. Last year we won our share of battles up front and it should only be better this year."

The Pirates return seniors Matt Kasten, Kameron Kaufman, Luke Richey and Albert Reynoso and junior Dalton Richardson on the interior offensive line. Kaufman was an all-conference first-team guard and Reynoso a second-team tackle.

Defensively, Kasten (6-3, 250) and 260-pound Steve Sharbono will line up at tackles, with Treadway, Kayl Grimes and Richey rotating at ends. The main linebacking trio will be Kaufman, Reynoso and Gage.

The Phoenix special teams should be in good hands with returning all-conference place-kicker Jairo Hernandez and Bohn as punter.

"We can definitely build on last year," said Walker, "but we can't expect the same thing to happen. I'm confident this group will play with intensity and lots of effort. With a year under our system, it will only help our kids."

After last season's performance, Phoenix doesn't seem to need too much help.

Reach reporter Frank Silow at 541-776-4480, or e-mail fsilow@mailtribune.com

Phoenix quarterback Justin Bohn practices precision passing drills during a recent team workout. Bohn shifted positions last year but is back where he wants to be.