Crater eyes quick transition period
CENTRAL POINT — Berk Brown could look all over the field and see senior after senior leading his team out onto the field during Crater’s spring 2021 season.
Just a few months later, things are a little different.
In their first fall season since a historic run to the Class 5A state title game two years ago, the Comets will be a young and hungry bunch rather than the senior-heavy group that had college talent all over the field just a few months back.
Despite that swing in his team’s experience level, Brown knows he has a talented group on his hands. It’s just about getting them up to speed that comes with so many players stepping into new roles.
“We’re having to replace 15 seniors, 13 of which were every-down players for us and five of those are playing college football now,” Brown said. “That’s our biggest challenge that we have to overcome — finding kids who played in the lower levels who can step up into a varsity role and be difference-makers for us. We’ve spent all summer and our kids have worked extremely hard. We’re starting to develop those roles for those guys.”
The Comets went 4-2 in Brown’s first season at the helm this past spring playing a schedule that featured four games against 6A opposition in the temporary revival of the Southern Oregon Conference, recording a 9-6 win over South Medford and close losses against Grants Pass (21-13) and North Medford (25-18).
A return to a regular Midwestern League schedule is certainly a welcome sight.
“I think the sense of normalcy for our kids provides a ton of emotional and social well-being, social health,” Brown said. “They get to be around their friends all of the time, they get to be around their teammates all the time. As hard as fall camp can be, I think they’re enjoying it because it feels like football again. It’s not something that was rushed and last minute and dumped into a six-week (schedule).
“Not that we didn’t appreciate it, but just the sense of normalcy, it helps the kids in between the ears more than anything.”
While the Comets’ senior class is small — all of six players — Brown said that each of them will be looked to for big contributions this season. Of those six seniors, it’s easy to identify Crater's foundation: lineman Jimmy Jordahl and running back/linebacker Caden Lasater, with Brown describing them as “two of the top players not only in our region but in the state.”
“Those two kids have just been unbelievable leaders and they’re just hard workers,” Brown said. “They’re the hardest working kids we have on the team right now and I’m really excited to watch them progress as they enter their final season at the high school level.”
Jordahl is the Comets’ lone senior on the offensive line, which also features returning starters Sage Wilson and Justin Brehm, who started at center as a freshman in the spring.
Rather than a senior stepping in for a senior like in the spring at quarterback, it will be sophomore Shane Wood moving up from the JV level to take over under center for the graduated Blake Eaton.
“Protection is everything for a young quarterback,” Brown said. “He has to feel as though he is safe when he takes that snap, and if he doesn’t feel safe that’s when a young quarterback can get jittery, get out of rhythm, forget his reads and responsibilities. Shane’s a good quarterback, but he’s a sophomore, so he’s going to have a learning curve.
“Shane’s potential is through the roof, but what he’s gotta do is let things slow down for him. Things are just moving a little fast for him right now.”
Jordahl and Lasater will also be key for the Comets’ defense, one that also lost over half of its starters from last season’s team.
Jordahl, an all-state pick at defensive end and one of the few underclassmen who participated in the Les Schwab Bowl this summer, and Lasater have been two of Crater’s top tacklers the last two seasons.
“Jimmy, at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, he’s just a force,” said Brown. “He’s a guy that teams will have to look to double-team. And if you don’t double-team him, you’ll have to run away from him. When the ball is snapped, Caden just finds a way to be around the ball — whether he’s gotta go through you, around you or somewhere in between, he’s going to be making plays.”
Also back defensively for the Comets is senior cornerback Miles Jennings, who Brown said “has made huge strides, understands the defense, loves defensive football.”
Brown expects junior Aidan Chenoweth to have a big impact at safety, one of the many juniors on the Comets’ roster who will be likely stepping into bigger roles compared to where they were in the depth chart in the spring.
Chenoweth will likely pair with junior Andrew Schatz, a transfer from Hug High School in Reno, Nevada.
“Aidan understands the defense and understands what we ask of the safeties — they have to be great communicators and get our defense checked into the right coverages,” Brown said. “He’s really picking that up, and I’m excited to see him develop into a guy who can make an impact on the defensive side of the ball.”
With so many starters to replace on both sides of the ball and a young quarterback getting his feet wet at the varsity level for the first time, Brown said the Comets’ coaching staff — one that also has had some holes to fill during the summer — will be tasked with making sure players continue to develop with each step of the 2021 campaign.
Brown said the cupboard isn’t bare, it’s just a matter of getting the youngsters up to speed more than anything else.
“We’re adapting our offense, and obviously with a new offensive coordinator (Trent Thompson) comes new schemes,” Brown said, “but beyond that we’re developing an offense that best fits the kids in our program. Our offense is making a shift in multiple ways.”
Berk Brown (2nd year, 4-2)
ASSISTANTS: Vinny Gay (assistant head coach/special teams/linebackers), Trent Thompson (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Brad Eaton (offensive line), David Douglas (cornerbacks), Beau Canfield (defensive line), JR Godley (running backs), David deVilleneuve (JV co-head coach/outside linebackers), Tyler Baird (JV co-head coach/wide receivers), Tyler Dean (JV defensive coordinator/safeties), Josh Middleton (offensive line), Josh Daulton (tight ends).
2020-21 OVERALL RECORD: 4-2
PREDICTED FINISH THIS YEAR: Second.
40 Wilsonville 0
56 Willamette 7
20 Thurston 20
66 North Bend 28
61 North Eugene 0
57 South Eugene 26
48 Ashland 13
56 Eagle Point 0
48 Churchill 0
49 Hillsboro 0
49 Parkrose 0
30 West Albany 24
10 Thurston 14
9 South Medford 6
13 Grants Pass 13
20 Liberty 38
18 North Medford 25
28 Eagle Point 7
42 Roseburg 7
20 Canby 14
OFFENSE (4): Tackle Sage Wilson (6-3, 230, jr.), center Justin Brehm (6-1, 280, so.), tackle Jimmy Jordahl (6-3, 230, sr.), running back Caden Lasater (5-10, 190, sr.).
DEFENSE (4): Nose tackle Justin Brehm (6-1, 280, so.), cornerback Miles Jennings (5-9, 170, sr.), end Jimmy Jordahl, linebacker Caden Lasater.
Quarterback Shane Wood (6-1, 210, so.), linebacker Ryken deVilleneuve (5-9, 205, sr.), receiver Javon Smith (5-11, 170, sr.), tight end/linebacker Kayden Gardner (6-0, 220, so.), safety Aidan Chenoweth (5-10, 175, jr.), receiver/defensive back Andrew Schatz (5-11, 180, jr.).
Sept. 4 vs. North Bend, 2 p.m., Marshfield HS
Sept. 17 CHURCHILL, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 at Springfield, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 WILLAMETTE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 at Eagle Point, 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 at Thurston, 7 p.m,
Oct. 22 SUMMIT, 7 p.m.
Oct. 29 ASHLAND, 7 p.m.
Reach Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.