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Rogue River moves forward without Reyes

ROGUE RIVER — He's the new head coach of a program that just lost one of its most prolific running backs to graduation.

Mike Maguire gets that his situation is far from ideal, but he's not about to back down from the challenge.

And actually, the first-year leader really likes his Rogue River squad.

"Christian was a great kid, a great student and great teammate," Maguire says of Christian Reyes, who accounted for most of the Chieftains' offense during his sparkling career. "I think there were times when the team would look to Christian to do everything because he had those capabilities to do those things. Life without him won't be easy. You don't replace a Christian Reyes."

But Chieftain fans can at least take comfort in this thought: Maguire is a man with a plan.

"We want it to be powerful and in people's face and have a simple passing game, with power runs inside and a simple read-passing game," the 28-year-old says.

Prior to taking on the head coaching gig, Maguire had been the offensive line coach the past two seasons at Rogue River. In 2007 and 2008, the 2001 Cloverdale (Calif.) High graduate served as the junior varsity defensive line coach at North Medford.

Maguire replaces Marvin Grover, who was 9-19 overall at Rogue River during his three years there. Maguire was hired as a full-time coach on Aug. 1.

The Chieftains were 3-6 overall and 1-3 in the Southern Cascade Hybrid last fall.

Junior Andy Valencia and sophomore Sebastian Escobar will attempt to fill Reyes' large running shoes. Valencia, Reyes' backup last year, "is a great athlete," Maguire says. At 145 pounds, Valencia will provide some smooth moves and speed at running back, while Escobar, at 180 pounds, will do more of the bowling and bruising.

Valencia will also play an important role as one of the key members of Rogue River's secondary.

Dylan Devish has emerged as Rogue River's leader at quarterback. The 5-foot-8, 142-pound freshman has already won his teammates over, Maguire said.

"He came into team camp and picked up the offense," says Maguire, who has 23 players. "He's an older freshman, he's 15 and will be 16 at the end of the school year. We didn't want to put too much on him at team camp, but he showed a real control of the offense. He doesn't say much, leads by example, but we gave him a playbook after camp, and he kept asking for more and more.

"He's a hard worker who gets on himself and corrects himself."

Devish will likely guide the Chieftains using around 14 total plays.

Seth Gretz, at 6-foot-3 and 155 pounds, will start at receiver with reliable senior route runner Dylan Gomez.

Junior Shawn Donahue may see time at the wide receiver and running back positions, and will play outside linebacker on defense.

The Chieftains are hoping to have another player available this season, too.

Doug Francis, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound nose guard, needs to receive clearance from the OSAA before he can practice with the team or play. The senior lineman, whose eligibility was complicated due to a family situation, has lost 20 pounds since April and has refocused, knowing that several NCAA Division I programs have shown interest, Maguire says. The team may not know if Francis can play until Sept. 11 at an OSAA appeals meeting.

"There is a lot of evidence for him to play," Maguire says.

But for now, Francis is the Rogue River team manager, maybe the biggest in school history.

"He's our stud," Maguire says. "Portland State has been recruiting him hard, Montana State and some smaller schools. He went to some combines and they were telling Doug, 'You are a heck of an athlete, a D1 kind of talent, but you need to get in better shape.' He finally took it serious after we told him that for about a year. He's quicker out of his stance now."

Other defensive standouts at Rogue River include senior tackle Matt McVeigh, hardworking junior middle linebacker Andrew Smith, junior defensive end Josh Anderson and sophomore end Garrett Dees.

The Chieftains open their season against Oakland.

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