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FOOTBALL '19: Cascade Christian rolls along

If you projected the Cascade Christian High football team for 10 wins, a league championship and a deep run in the Class 3A state playoffs this fall, you’d probably be on target.

History tells us as much. Since Jon Gettman became the Challengers’ head coach in 2010, the team has gone 91-22 overall, 30-0 in league play and 21-7 in the playoffs. The sustained prosperity has included two state titles, a pair of state runners-up and two other trips to the semifinals.

Yet, Gettman and his players never talk about this extraordinary surge of success. And that may be one of the reasons it keeps flowing forward.

“We never talk about league championships or state championships or any of that stuff,” said Gettman, whose team won the state title in 2017 and finished second last season. “The focus is always on embracing the journey. We go out on the practice field each day to grow as football players and as young men.

“That’s always been our approach, and it always will be.”

Gettman admitted he has one advantage that most small schools don’t: assistant coaches who know the ropes and stick around.

Defensive coordinator Mike Schaan has been at Cascade since Gettman became head coach. Quarterbacks coach Steve Furst and linebackers coach Jeff Olson have been with the program for eight years, while defensive backs coach Sam Carpenter and junior varsity coach Andy Scaglione have been on board for seven years.

“Our kids improve drastically from the start of the season to the end of it, and it’s because of all the individual work they’re getting from the assistant coaches,” Gettman said. “These guys invest a lot in our kids. The expectations are high.”

Such cohesiveness could be especially valuable this season because the Challengers return only nine of 22 starting positions. They were 5-0 in the Far West League and 11-2 overall, falling 44-14 to Rainier in the state title contest.

The lack of starting experience figures to be greatly mitigated by the return of second-team all-state quarterback Kiegan Schaan.

A year ago, in his first full season as a quarterback, the 6-foot, 190-pound Schaan posted some jaw-dropping statistics: 3,316 yards passing and 32 touchdowns and 743 yards rushing and 14 scores.

He broke the single-season school passing record that his brother, Haiden, established in 2017.

The younger Schaan was also a first-team all-state safety last season and was the Far West League’s MVP on both sides of the ball.

“He’s a perfectionist who sets a high standard for himself,” said Gettman of Kiegan Schaan. “He’s a kid who’s always asking questions.

“Throwing the ball isn’t natural for him, but he works at it and his completion percentage is good (59 percent last season). He gets a little better every day.”

Schaan’s favorite receiver figures to be junior Kristian Fralich, a 5-7, 150-pound speedster who had 42 catches for 611 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018. Senior Cade Sample (12 catches, 216 yards) also returns.

Sample wasn’t a big part of the offense last season, but a catch he made on his shoelaces and turned into a touchdown in a playoff win over Amity went on the highlight reel.

“Fralich is explosive and very quick out of his breaks,” Gettman said. “He’s going to make some big plays. If he matches up one-on-one, he usually wins the route.

“As for Cade, we need him to step up. He’s a bigger kid (6-2, 180) who can work the middle of the field.”

Cascade Christian’s only other returning starter on offense is guard Gabe Pierson. Leading candidates to fill the other offensive line positions are center Jacob Copely, guard Grant Couzens and tackles Christian Brehm and Bryson Cannon.

It’s a rather lean but athletic group with only Pierson exceeding 215 pounds.

“There’s definitely a molding process that needs to occur in the offensive line, but it’s an athletic group that we can take advantage of,” Gettman said. “Our screen game, traps, counter plays — those kids are quick enough to get out in front and lead the way.”

A beneficiary of the outside running game will be Elijah Smith, a 5-6, 160-pound senior who rushed for 526 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago while backing up his brother, Luke.

“He’s quick and has good vision,” said Gettman of Smith. “We’re excited to get him going. I think he’s going to have a great year.”

Defensively, Schaan is back at strong safety, Fralich returns at cornerback and Sample and Smith return at linebacker. Pierson, Michael Croy, Titus Miller and Davis Federico are battling for the other two linebacking spots in the Challengers’ 3-4 alignment.

Another battle is brewing at defensive end between Copely, Cannon and Brehm. Couzens came on during the playoffs last season at nose guard, using his 6-5, 215-pound frame to good advantage.

“We’re replacing a lot of guys but we have more depth and that’s creating competition in practice,’’ Gettman said.

Schaan likely will be the team’s punter while freshman soccer player J.T. Knobloch has been working out at placekicker, aiming to replace Ethan Hoffman, a first-team all-state selection in 2018.

CHALLENGERS GLANCE

HEAD COACH

Jon Gettman (10th year, 91-22).

With nine wins this season, Getman would join the 100-victory club in just a decade of work as the Cascade Christian head coach.

GENERAL INFORMATION

ASSISTANTS: Mike Schaan (defensive coordinator/offensive line/defensive line), Jeff Olson (linebackers), Sam Carpenter (defensive backs), Joe Hagler (running backs), Mike Haggert (wide receivers), Andy Scaglione (head JV/defensive backs/wide receivers), Steve Furst (quarterbacks), Ryan Sample (JV assistant), Tony McDougle (linebackers/running backs), Darren Turituri (offensive line/defensive line/JV defense), Ben Lofton (JV).

2018 LEAGUE RECORD: 5-0 (first, FWL).

2018 OVERALL RECORD: 11-2.

PREDICTED FINISH THIS YEAR: First.

2018 RESULTS

Cascade Christian Opponents

28 Phoenix 0

14 Klamath Union 20

52 Harrisburg 20

52 Pleasant Hill 13

51 Hidden Valley 7

52 South Umpqua 0

52 Douglas 0

59 Brookings 20

61 St. Mary’s 13

State Playoffs

49 Harrisburg 13

57 Scio 8

49 Amity 24

14 Rainier 44

RETURNING STARTERS

OFFENSE (4): Quarterback Kiegan Schaan (6-0, 190, sr.), right guard Gabe Pierson (5-9, 225, sr.), wide receiver Kristian Fralich (5-7, 150, jr.), wide receiver Cade Sample (6-2, 180, sr.).

DEFENSE (5): Strong safety Kiegan Schaan, cornerback Kristian Fralich, outside linebacker Cade Sample, outside linebacker Elijah Smith (5-6, 160, sr.), inside linebacker Michael Croy (5-10, 175, sr.).

OTHER NOTABLES:

Offensive tackle/defensive end Christian Brehm (6-0, 190, jr.), offensive tackle/defensive end Bryson Cannon (6-2, 195, so.), center/nose guard Jacob Copely (6-0, 215, sr.), guard/nose guard Grant Couzens (6-5, 215, sr.), wide receiver/inside linebacker Davis Federico (6-0, 170, jr.), wide receiver/safety Matthew McPheeters (6-2, 160, jr.), quarterback/cornerback Sam Martin (5-9, 140, jr.), running back/linebacker Titus Miller (5-8, 165, jr.), running back/linebacker Elijah Nehf (5-9, 155, jr.), wide receiver/cornerback Will Pierson (6-1, 165, jr.), wide receiver/cornerback Ethan Rathburn (5-11, 160, jr.), wide receiver/cornerback Braedon Scaglione (6-0, 160, sr.), tight end/linebacker Austin Waits (6-1, 210, so.).

2019 SCHEDULE

Sept 6 PHOENIX, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13 at Klamath Union, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Harrisburg, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27 PLEASANT HILL, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4 HIDDEN VALLEY, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11 SOUTH UMPQUA, 7 p.m.

Oct. 18 at Douglas, 7 p.m.

Oct. 25 at Brookings-Harbor, 7 p.m.

Nov. 1 ST. MARY’S, 7 p.m.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian’s KKiegan Schaan and Elijah Smith are among the leaders for the powerful Challengers.