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FOOTBALL '19: Prospect has new coach, new look

Veteran coach Scott Baker speaks with an air of mystery while describing the offensive system he has brought to Prospect.

The 48-year-old has 15 years of experience, including stops at South Eugene, North Douglas and South Umpqua, but he’s never led an eight-man program until now.

“That was challenging at first,” said Baker, who takes over the Cougars after Jimmy Slaton’s three-year stint as head coach. “I have an advanced offensive system. It’s hardcore with a big emphasis on attention to detail. We’re running a similar offense that I’ve been putting together for years. The transition was more for me than them. (I’m used to) three extra guys. But I think we’ve got it dialed in.”

Prospect returns seven starters from the 2018 season, when the Cougars went 1-8 and 0-5 in Class 1A District 2 play.

Junior tight ends Aaron Linam and Nick Strahan, junior running back Nathan Glover, senior guard Matthew Nelson, junior running back Kyle Ghirardo, junior guard/running back Jadon Taylor and junior center Kohl Kusel are all back.

Defensively, Linam (linebacker), Strahan (nose guard), Glover (linebacker), Nelson (tackle), Ghirardo (linebacker), Taylor (linebacker) and Kusel (tackle) are all returning starters.

And then there is Baker, who graduated from Washington State University. He’s coached at a pair of Washington schools to complement his Oregon resume. For the last several years, he was out of coaching and living in Alaska.

He jumped when the Prospect gig opened.

“The kids we have have been awesome to work with,” Baker said. “Very coachable and eager to get the new system going. I think they’re excited about it.”

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Nelson and defensive end Joseph Williams are the team’s lone seniors. Nelson is a veteran and Williams is new to football.

Passing and rushing are Prospect’s strengths now, Baker said, adding that the team’s line play is still inconsistent.

The Cougars’ victory last year was a season-ending 24-14 triumph over Myrtle Point, providing some motivation to returning talents.

“Each day we get better,” Baker said. “We’ve had practices where we say, ‘Wow, this is impressive.’ Our real strength is our kids’ attitudes.”

Logan Gordan, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound sophomore, gets the nod at starting quarterback.

“He has quickly established himself as one of the team leaders,” Baker said. “He is one of our strengths.”

Linam and Taylor are two leaders on the 12-man Prospect roster, Baker added.

Ghirardo and Glover provide good speed in the backfield and Taylor and Strahan are utility players who can succeed anywhere, Baker said.

Freshman running back/linebacker Ricky Combs-Cripps, junior defensive tackle Tristan Haskell and freshman offensive guard/defensive tackle Jonathan Larsen are other players to watch.

The Cougars begin their season hosting Days Creek on Sept. 13. An opening-night matchup with Butte Falls was canceled because Prospect would be without five or six players who had already committed to a youth camp, Baker said. There is a chance the game may be rescheduled, Baker added.

Prospect kicks off league play by hosting Bonanza on Sept. 27.

COUGARS GLANCE

HEAD COACH

Scott Baker (first year).

Baker offers 15 years of coaching experience in Oregon and Washington.

ASSISTANTS: Andrew Nelmes, Drew Nelmes.

2018 LEAGUE RECORD: 0-5 (sixth, District 2 West).

2018 OVERALL RECORD: 1-8.

2018 RESULTS

ProspectOpponents

30Butte Falls/Crater Lake 42

0Days Creek 46

14Myrtle Point 22

14Chiloquin 49

22Bonanza 62

8Triad 50

8Hosanna Christian 64

20North Lake 42

24Myrtle Point 14

RETURNING STARTERS

OFFENSE (7): Tight end Aaron Linam (6-0, 150, jr.), tight end Nick Strahan (5-11, 165, jr.), running back Nathan Glover (5-10, 170, jr.), offensive guard Matthew Nelson (6-1, 230, sr.), running back Kyle Ghirardo (6-0, 180, jr.), offensive guard/running back Jadon Taylor (5-8, 215, jr.), center Kohl Kusel (5-9, 190, jr.).

DEFENSE (7): Linebacker Aaron Linam, nose guard Nick Strahan, linebacker Nathan Glover, defensive tackle Matthew Nelson, linebacker Kyle Ghirardo, linebacker Jadon Taylor, defensive tackle Kohl Kusel.

OTHER NOTABLES

Quarterback/safety Logan Gordan (6-3, 175, so.), running back/linebacker Ricky Combs-Cripps (5-3, 120, fr.), defensive tackle Tristan Haskell (5-8, 185, jr.), defensive end Joseph Williams (6-1, 175, sr.), offensive guard/defensive tackle Jonathan Larsen (5-7, 195, fr.).

2019 SCHEDULE

Sept. 13DAYS CREEK, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20MYRTLE POINT, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27BONANZA, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4at Triad, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11at Hosanna Christian, 7 p.m.

Oct. 18at North Lake, 4 p.m.

Oct. 26at Chiloquin, TBD

Nov. 1 TBD, 7 p.m.

Reach freelance writer Dan Jones at dljcards@gmail.com.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneProspect's offense is raring to go for 2019.