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FOOTBALL '19: Quarterback Coyle headlines GP returners

John Musser is excited about a few things in Grants Pass.

First, football is back. And to make things even more interesting for the 12th-year head coach, he's got a proven quarterback and several other intriguing talents ready to roll.

All in all, Musser likes his team's chances with senior quarterback Chase Coyle leading the way this fall.

"I've been here for (a total) of 23 seasons," said Musser. "This is the best quarterback in my time here. He's a pure quarterback. ... He's the dude for us."

Coyle was second-team all-Southwest Conference in 2018.

The Cavemen, who went 6-4 last fall, bring back seven starters on offense and three on defense. They were 2-2 in the SWC, tying South Medford for second place.

Senior tailback/linebacker Jake Henricks and junior lineman Andrew Prulhiere (a 300-pounder) are two of Grants Pass' other cornerstones.

Coyle, who has drawn interest from several NCAA Division I Big Sky schools, threw for more than 2,600 yards and 26 touchdowns last season. With a 64 percent completion rate, he's shown to be a strong-armed signal-caller with a high IQ.

He'll be protected by a veteran line, with starters Cadin Barker (senior) and juniors Prulhiere, Logan Vinyard and Kai Perez all back.

Prulhiere, an all-SWC first-teamer last season, is agile for his size, Musser said. Baker made the second team a year ago

Henricks rushed for almost 300 yards on 69 attempts and scored three touchdowns while starting in a few games last year. On defense, he was a 2018 all-SWC second-team linebacker who was among Grants Pass' leaders in tackles.

Musser said Henricks has added 20 pounds and gotten faster.

Joel Valadez, a returning second-team senior cornerback, brings two years of starting experience and all-league recognition to the table.

Jett Hood, a junior free safety, started half of the Cavemen's contests last year. He's a fierce hitter and competitor who uses his center-fielding skills from baseball to be rangy and instinctual on the football field, Musser said.

Special teams players of note include Andrew Medley (a senior punter and second-team all-conference selection) and Valadez (who averaged over 25 yards per return last season).

Slot receiver JJ Watts, who is one of 21 seniors, is also a returning starter.

Other players of note include junior linebacker/tight end Dante Haven, senior lineman Peter Osipovich, senior lineman Tyson Dixon, senior offensive lineman Quentin Nieves, senior defensive lineman Lincoln Kasiah, senior defensive lineman/tight end Austin Clinger, junior defensive back/wide receiver Noah Martinez, senior defensive back/slot Cody Amaral, junior receiver/defensive back Devik Chiang, senior receiver/defensive back Anthony Maravilla, senior receiver/defensive back Keinan Alderson, junior defensive back/receiver Cameron Jipp, junior running back Spencer Sloan and sophomore defensive lineman Dredan Myers.

Sloan, with excellent speed, should pair well with Henricks in the backfield, Musser said.

Grants Pass still has question marks, the coach said. The program graduated three receivers who accounted for around 2,300 yards. Musser is hoping his group can be an equal threat on the ground and air this fall.

"We will be searching for a bit of an offensive identity early, as new receivers are broken in," he wrote in a preseason press release. "But if we can run the ball and use play action and run/pass options off of that, we feel our QB and offensive line can keep us in games. ... We need to shore up a scoring defense that has not lived up to expectations the past few years and plan on doing that with a scheme and some personnel changes in the middle of the defense."

The placekicking position is also still up in the air, Musser added.

The Cavemen have finished in third place or better the last six years in the league, which Musser said looks as wide open as ever now.

Grants Pass has recorded winning seasons since 2013 but only made it past the second round of the state playoffs once (2014) in that span.

The Cavemen open their season at Oregon City tonight before hosting Summit the following week. They kick off conference action by welcoming Roseburg on Oct. 4.

CAVEMEN GLANCE

HEAD COACH

John Musser (12th year, 64-52).

Grants Pass has had winning seasons since 2013 but has only made it beyond the second round of the state playoffs once (2014) in that span.

GENERAL INFORMATION

ASSISTANTS: Matt Kennedy (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), John Tunick (special teams/defensive backs), Bub Marval (offensive line), Brian Richard (defensive line), Kyle Swanson (running backs), Tyler York (defensive backs), John Valadez (wide receivers), Jonah Musser (junior varsity/offensive coordinator/receivers), Robbie Zaina (JV/defensive coordinator/linebackers), Nate Scott (JV), Jeret Musser (junior varsity), Stacy Morgan (freshman head coach), Jameson Davis (freshmen), Gannon Schroder (freshmen), Jake Leair (freshman).

2018 LEAGUE RECORD: 2-2 (tied second, SWC).

2017 OVERALL RECORD: 6-4.

PREDICTED FINISH THIS YEAR: Second.

2018 RESULTS

Grants Pass;Opponents

41;Oregon City 64

48;Summit 41

49;Mountain View 41

38;Southridge 21

44;Roseburg 39

29;North Medford 37

42;Westview 14

28;South Medford 7

6;Sheldon 56

State Playoffs

35;Oregon City 60

RETURNING STARTERS

OFFENSE (7): Quarterback Chase Coyle (6-2, 211, sr.), lineman Cadin Barker (5-10, 252, sr.), lineman Andrew Prulhiere (6-1, 303, jr.), lineman Logan Vinyard (6-1, 274, jr.), lineman Kai Perez (6-2, 227, jr.), slot receiver JJ Watts (6-1, 178, sr.), receiver Joel Valadez (5-11, 162, sr.).

DEFENSE (3): Linebacker Jake Henricks (5-11, 200, sr.), defensive back Joel Valadez, free safety Jett Hood (5-11, 162, jr.).

OTHER NOTABLES

Linebacker/tight end Dante Haven (6-0, 185, jr.), lineman Peter Osipovich (6-0, 221, sr.), lineman Tyson Dixon (6-4, 231, sr.), offensive lineman Quentin Nieves (6-2, 261, sr.), defensive lineman Lincoln Kasiah (6-0, 271, sr.), defensive lineman/tight end Austin Clinger (6-3, 197, sr.), defensive back/wide receiver Noah Martinez (6-0, 180, jr.), defensive back/slot Cody Amaral (5-11, 162, sr.), slot/linebacker Andrew Medley (5-8, 167, sr.), receiver/defensive back Devik Chiang (6-2, 177, jr.), receiver/defensive back Anthony Maravilla (6-1, 164, sr.), receiver/defensive back Keinan Alderson (5-6, 132, sr.), defensive back/receiver Cameron Jipp (6-2, 167, jr.), running back Spencer Sloan (6-0, 182, jr.), defensive lineman Dredan Myers (6-0, 195, so.).

2019 SCHEDULE

Sept. 6;at Oregon City, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13;SUMMIT, 7 p.m.

Sept. 20;MOUNTAIN VIEW, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27;at Southridge, 7 p.m.

Oct. 4;ROSEBURG, 7 p.m.

Oct. 11;at North Medford, 7 p.m.

Oct. 18;at Westview, 7 p.m.

Oct. 25;at South Medford, 7 p.m.

Nov. 1;SHELDON, 7 p.m.

Reach freelance writer Dan Jones at dljcards@gmail.com

Grants Pass senior running back Jake Henricks (16) started some last season and ran for 300 yards and scored three touchdowns. A second-team all-SWC linebacker as well, he’s added 20 pounds.